If you’re just getting started with 3D printers, Creality’s Ender 3 series is well worth a look, and has plenty of upgrades available — both paid and open-source — so there’s a way to modify your 3D printer to suit any budget.
3D printer modification may seem like a daunting task for beginners, but it’s much simpler than many would assume. There are plenty of upgrades for the Ender 3 available and many of them are far less expensive than you’d think — and there are many you can print yourself at home.
Starting small is sensible, especially as a first-time modifier. Using smaller, simpler modifications not only ease you in, but also give you the freedom to expand as you get more comfortable with upgrading your Ender 3.
The Creality Ender 3 – Why is it a Good Choice for Upgrades?
The three main models in the Ender 3 series are the original Ender 3, the Ender 3 Pro, the Ender 3 V2, and the Ender 3 Max.
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If you haven’t bought your Ender 3 yet, you can buy them at Creality’s store:
We also have an article comparing every Ender 3 model.
Also: Ender 3 vs Ender 5 compared.
The Ender 3 is a great choice if you have high-school-age children who are looking to get into 3D printing, or are taking your own first steps in 3D printing.
Sent partially assembled, with tools and instructions included, the Ender 3 is engaging, easy to understand, and affordable.
Ender 3 printers are also easy to upgrade, allowing your printer to grow and develop along with your skills.
Best of all, the Ender 3 range is fully open-source, further simplifying the modification process. 3D printing modifications allow you to be sure you’re getting exactly the parts you need, from board covers to cable chains.
3D Printing with the Ender 3 V2
While it’s good to go straight out of the box, the Ender 3 V2 can be made even better with some simple upgrades.
From the basics, such as making your 3D printer less noisy, or more efficient, to the engaging complexities of 3D printing in a wider range of materials, a few simple mods and add-ons can make all the difference.
This means that STL files for your own hardware mods, accessories, and simple upgrades can be found for free on sites like Thingiverse.
Why Upgrade Your Ender 3 Printer?
If you’re just starting out with 3D printing, you may wonder whether you need to worry about upgrades and mods just yet.
Upgrading an Ender 3 printer isn’t complicated, even for a beginner, and it’s well worth it. Boosting your printer’s performance capabilities from the start means you won’t find yourself becoming frustrated with limitations as your 3D printing skills improve.
Ender 3 Upgrades You Can Buy
While 3D printing your own Ender 3 upgrades is a fun way to improve your 3D printer’s capabilities, you can also buy improved performance.
Purchasing an affordable 3D printer and then buying pro mods as you need them is easier and cheaper than spending money on a more professional 3D printer, which you may never use to its fullest potential.
The Ender 3 range of 3D printers are widely compatible as far as upgrades are concerned. Full compatibility exists between the Ender 3 and Ender 3 Pro for the most common upgrades, while the Ender 3 V2 has some differences, and isn’t compatible with all Ender 3 upgrades.
There are a wide range of upgrades that will help you get a better-finished print product. From glass print beds (supplied as standard on the Creality Ender 3 V2 model) to the Raspberry Pi board which gives you all the benefits of OctoPrint, improving your 3D print quality has never been easier.
However, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure top-quality prints for a long time to come.
Here are the three upgrades we’d suggest giving serious thought to if you’re looking to quickly boost your print performance.
- Price: Depends on model — Available on Amazon here
The Raspberry Pi circuit board allows you to run OctoPrint, a browser control interface that lets you monitor and control every aspect of your 3D print experience.
Installing a Raspberry Pi is a simple process, and mainly involves printing a case, the size of which depends on which Raspberry Pi you’ve purchased. Since Raspberry Pis range from $20 – $140, so you’ll want to think well about which one you want to upgrade your Ender 3.
With the case built and the Raspberry Pi installed, all you need is a firmware update before you can see and alter the print temperature, get print status feedback, and even stop and start your print job from anywhere there’s an internet connection.
E3D Titan Aero Extrusion Mechanism
- Price: $120-190 — Available on Amazon here
Featuring a tight filament path, this extrusion upgrade allows you to use a wider range of filaments, including specialty filaments. The all-metal design of the Creality printers means it can be used even when printing temperatures over 300℃.
CR Touch Auto Bed Leveling Kit
- Price: $39 — Available on Amazon here
While Ender 3 models don’t have auto-leveling features by default, you can cheaply upgrade the Ender 3 to auto-level with the CR Touch upgrade kit.
Manual leveling adds extra time, hassle, and generally having auto-leveling makes your 3D printing experience more pleasant. Having to re-level the printer every few prints is an annoyance, and human error can affect prints.
- We also have a ranking of some of the best auto-leveling 3D printers.
Glass Print Bed (Upgrade for the Ender 3, not V2)
- Price: ~$20 — Available on Amazon here
The main problem that keeps cropping up with Ender 3 models is print bed warping. Fortunately, this has been resolved with the Ender 3 V2, which comes with a glass print bed as standard.
If you have the Ender 3 Pro, or an original Ender 3, then replacing the original aluminum print bed with a tempered glass version means you never have to worry about warped print beds again. It also gives you a smoother print finish on the bottom of your printed items.
It can be difficult to get the print bed level on Creality Ender 3 printers. A set of bed leveling wheels takes the effort out of this part of setting up your Creality 3D printer, and makes your 3D printing journey an instantly smoother experience.
A small component with a big impact! Offering greater stability on the print bed, a stronger spring mitigates the swing impact of printing at higher speeds.
Print Your Own Upgrades
The obvious place to start upgrading an Ender 3 3D printer is with printable mods. As all models of the Ender 3 series are fully open-source, the designs for a range of upgrades and mods you can print at home are readily available online.
Ender 3 V2 users have found that there are some common printable mods that immediately improve its performance.
Here we’ll take a look at the best printable upgrades, all of which are available for free on Thingiverse.
Board Fan Guard
A board fan guard prevents pieces of filament coming off and falling into the build plate, where they could damage the mainboard or fan.
Filament Guide Tubes
Filament guide tubing protects your filament material from being exposed to the air, as well as ensures the filament transfer process is as smooth and efficient as possible. This reduces the waste filament in 3D printing, and gives you a better-finished print.
A near-essential little piece of operational organization. Also known as cable carriers or drag chains, cable chains help prevent your cables getting tangled, and ensures they run smoothly through your 3D printer.
An important design element for 3D printed drag chains is strain relief; this can be achieved through spiral wrap build, additional support where the cable joins the connector, and using thin cables in a wide radius, rather than thicker cabling on a tighter radius.
A quick and simple way to protect your 3D printer’s printed circuit board from impact or spill damage, as well as corrosion from moisture in the atmosphere. You can find free files to print your own here.
Adding tubing to the Bowden extruder allows you to print with flexible filaments such as TPU. Flexible filaments give a higher quality print finish, and open up a wider range of printing possibilities.
A particularly annoying aspect of the Ender 3 V2 is that it emits beeping sounds throughout the printing process.
If you’re doing a lot of printing, working late into the evening, or have to share your space with those who are not necessarily 3D printing fans, this noise can quickly become quite intrusive.
A simple bleep silencer is an easy printable upgrade, and one that will improve your quality of life and save your ears.
Firm Up Your Firmware
In 3D printing, firmware is what enables information and instructions to be sent through the various elements of your 3D printer.
Ender 3 V2 3D printers use Marlin 2.0 firmware, which is much more efficient than the firmware on earlier Ender printers. Upgrading firmware might sound way above your tech level, but it’s actually pretty straightforward, with easy-to-follow steps
3D Printing: Step In, and Step Up
The range of possibilities 3D printing offers should feel exciting, not overwhelming. With the solid, reliable entry-level performance of Creality’s Ender 3 printer range, and easy upgrades and mods you can either buy online or print at home, excitement definitely takes the lead.
If you already own a Creality Ender 3D printer and are keen to improve on an effective starting base, or you’re completely new to 3D printing and evaluating all possible options, upgrading your 3D printer is far easier and cheaper than many assume.
Other articles you may be interested in:
- Ender 3 vs Ender 3 Pro vs Ender 3 V2 vs Ender 3 Max: compared
- Ender 3 vs Ender 5
- Ender 3 dual extruder – all your options
- Ender 3 laser engraver options
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