Easy on the wallet and capable of quality prints, the Ender 3 and successor models, the Pro, V2 and S1, are also ripe for DIY upgrades.
Today’s guide focuses on one of the most popular Ender 3 add-ons – rounding up the best Ender 3 enclosures.
From pre-made, buyable enclosures to creative DIY options you can fashion from various easily obtainable materials, there are plenty of options you can pick.
We’ll highlight the best among them and also provide a few top Ender 3 enclosure buying tips to keep in mind.
Buyable Ender 3 Enclosures
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Official Creality Ender 3 Enclosure
- Price: Check price at Creality store / Check here on Amazon
- Assembly: Easy-to-assemble iron pipe/three-way connector frame
- Printer Access: Large front door with zip
- Print Visibility: See-through front screen with zip, velcroed side and top opening
Although Creality opted not to equip the Ender 3 with an enclosure, the company offers its very own official-vetted enclosure for the Ender 3 in all its incarnations.
The enclosure’s biggest strength is that it’s designed specifically for the Ender 3, so no faffing around checking dimensions – the Ender 3 just fits, with room to spare.
It also offers sufficient top space to squeeze in a spool of 1kg filament.
With toolless, easy assembly, the official Creality enclosure consists of a rigid iron pipe frame held together by three-way connectors, on top of which sits a heat-containing cover to prevent drafts.
The inner layer is made of an aluminum film, while a flame retardant fabric coats the outer layer.
The official Creality Ender 3 enclosure can maintain temperatures far better, ideal for printing with ABS, ASA, PC, and other heat-sensitive materials. Creality says the enclosure helps muffle printing sounds and has also thrown in a handy side-mounted tool pouch.
A zipped window that runs almost the front and top of the enclosure offers easy access to the printer and a good-sized viewing window.
Smaller right side and top openings with velcro covers grant two additional angles to access the printer without removing the entire enclosure.
3D UpFitters Ender 3 Enclosure
- Price: Starting at $200.00
- Assembly: Fairly involved, comes with high-quality, well-guided assembly instructions
- Printer Access: Hinged front door with magnetic latch and left-side door
- Print Visibility: Acrylic see-through panels on all sides
If you’re looking for a sturdier alternative to Creality’s tent-style enclosure above, 3D UpFitters’ Ender 3 kit is a solid option.
The company specializes in 3D printer enclosures and levies that expertise to offer some of the best options on the market.
The enclosure is made of high-quality acrylic panels held together by ABS connector brackets. This means complete visibility of the printing process from all angles and the ability to maintain internal temperature above 30°C.
A hinged front door with magnetic latches and a side-mounted two-panel swing door means easy access to the printer.
The kit even comes with a custom mount and extender cable to position the Ender 3’s power supply outside the enclosure.
It also features cable routing holes to position the printer’s display outside the enclosure for easy print control. 3D UpFitters’ Ender 3 enclosure starts at around $200.00.
The company offers a range of add-ons, including a carbon air filter, temperature gauge, spool holder, vent system with fan/dryer hose adapter, interior LEDs, etc.
You can shave off a few dollars by opting to print the connectors yourself using ABS, something the company facilitates by providing STL files.
Assembly is reasonably involved and takes some time, but 3D UpFitters’ high-quality instructions are good enough for those usually daunted by DIY assembly to follow.
Wham Bam HotBox V2 Enclosure
- Price: Starting at $120.00
- Assembly: Pre-assembled, effortless two-minute set-up
- Printer Access: Large zipped front/top door
- Print Visibility: See-through front panel
It comes fully assembled with a setup involving no more than two zippers.
The HotBox V2 is made up of a semi-rigid, lightweight polymer honeycomb insulating structure with a high-grade Nylon 600D outer layer and metallic heat-containing internal lining.
These materials keep out drafts and maintain a steady internal temperature.
A large front-facing velcro panel allows you to view and access the printer, while dual side-mounted zippers see the front and cover open up completely for even easier access to the printer.
There are metal-lined filament passages mounted throughout, with plugs to seal them when not in use.
Cable passages and velcro retainers feature on all sides, along with an air vent port, and even an in-built thermometer for monitoring. The top panel features a velcro panel for the Ender 3’s spool holder to sit outside the enclosure.
Other notable features include loops for a pair of LED light bars on the front panel should you fancy the upgrade along with a useful tool pouch on the enclosure’s side.
It folds up flat for easy transportation and storage.
DIY Ender 3 Enclosures
Exercise and Kids Mats
- Price: $20.00-$30.00
- Assembly: Very easy, interlocking puzzle teeth
- Printer Access: Easily remove one of the mats to access the printer
- Print Visibility: Poor
Although not the first thing that comes to mind, foam exercise and kid’s play mats constitute a viable DIY option for an Ender 3 enclosure.
In particular, mats that have interlocking puzzle teeth on the sides can be combined easily and quickly to create a cube large enough to house an Ender 3.
No need for tools or screws – simply push them together.
While their material (usually ethylene vinyl acetate) may not be known for its insulative properties, and the imprecise, toothy cuts may be prone to letting through small drafts, these mats prove surprisingly competent at maintaining a steady temperature.
Due to manufacturers having to stick to rigid standards, they are generally non-flammable.
They are also comparatively cheap when stacked up against pre-made enclosures. Expect to pay as little as $20.00 to $30.00 for the six panels required for a six-sided cube enclosure.
There are, of course, downsides.
Unless you carve out an opening and install an acrylic panel, there’s no way to monitor a print without removing one of the mats. Depending on the mat’s thickness, fitting in an opening for the filament spool might be troublesome, too.
IKEA LACK Table
- Price: $13.00 IKEA LACK table, $60.00 panel kit, cost of filament to 3D print brackets
- Assembly: Complex
- Printer Access: Hinged front door
- Print Visibility: Excellent, see-through front, back, and side panels
A favorite among seasoned makers, the IKEA LACK table enclosure is a classic DIY option.
Though not initially conceived for the Ender 3, it works a treat to transform any small-ish open-design printer into a machine capable of handling even the most temperamental filament types.
The basic idea is to take a cheap, sturdy, and readily available IKEA LACK side table, then mount acrylic panels on the front, back, and sides with 3D printed brackets to create a toasty thermal environment for ABS, Nylon, PC, and more to thrive.
You won’t need custom-cut acrylic panels as you can buy kits from Amazon and the like.
These include cut-to-size acrylic panels with cabling holes, magnets, and hardware. STL files for the 3D printed parts are also available on sites like Thingiverse.
Visibility is unsurprisingly excellent, with views of the printer from the front, back, and sides.
Kits also generally include a hinged door or a removable front panel for printer access.
You can even stack multiple LACK tables to create storage space or fashion and attach all manner of creative add-ons like lights, a thermometer, or an external spool holder to the side table’s wooden frame.
Whatever way you look at it, this is a DIY project, so assembly is very much hands-on with a good dose of problem-solving if you don’t go down the kit route – one for the experienced DIYers or motivated beginners out there.
- Price: $100.00-$200.00 depending on the cost of wood
- Assembly: Medium-hard difficulty
- Printer Access: Optional hinged front door or removable panel
- Print Visibility: Potentially excellent if using four acrylic panels
Similar to the IKEA LACK build, a wooden enclosure is a viable alternative to a pre-made option, especially if you’re good with your hands and have some woodworking experience.
Generally, those who’ve gone down this route build a wood frame and then attach wood panels and one acrylic panel on the front for visibility to create an enclosed space for the Ender 3.
Assembly can vary in complexity depending on your plans.
Wood is one of the more workable materials, but you need the right tools – a circular saw, drill, etc. The lack of precise guides means you’ll need to measure the correct dimensions yourself.
The whole project could cost next to nothing if you can gather up any spare wood lying around and 3D print the brackets for the acrylic panels.
Otherwise, expect to pay anywhere from $100.00 to $200.00, depending on the cost of wood in your area.
Plastic Sheets and PVC Frame
- Price: $20-$40
- Assembly: Medium complexity
- Printer Access: Door cut into sheet with velcro holds or removable sheet
- Print Visibility: Poor, unless you use see-through material
It’s possible to piece together an inexpensive, rudimentary Ender 3 enclosure with no more than a sheet of plastic, a basic frame made of PVC, for example, and strong adhesive like duct tape.
The process is pretty intuitive.
It involves assembling a frame, draping the sheet over and holding it down with tape. The printer then sits underneath, benefiting from the right controlled thermal environment to handle heat-sensitive filament.
In terms of equipment, we recommend any non-flammable and heat-resistant plastic sheet; the thicker, the better, as extra width generally pumps up the insulative properties.
Depending on your visibility preference, you may also want to go for see-through sheets.
As for the frame, a popular option is PVC, as it can be combined without tools, relying instead on friction to hold it together. This makes it easier to build and disassemble for transportation or storage.
Another popular alternative is to 3D print the frame yourself, further reducing costs.
Assembly shouldn’t be too taxing but could vary depending on the frame material you go for.
For printer access, you can either remove a section of the sheet as needed or cut out a door and attach velcro dots to the frame to keep it closed during printing.
Advantages of an Enclosure for Your Ender 3
An enclosure creates a stable thermal environment.
Without an enclosure, the Ender 3 is subject to ambient temperature fluctuation caused by natural shifts and factors like drafts.
An enclosure allows for a consistent environment, essential if you need consistent and reliable results when reproducing the same model and part.
Fumes, Odors, Noise Reduction
An Ender 3 enclosure contains the fumes created when melting certain filament types.
These fumes can have hazardous consequences when breathed in. Similarly, many heat-sensitive filament types produce unpleasant odors, which an enclosure can help reduce, which is useful if you can’t set up the printer in a well-ventilated area.
A further benefit is noise reduction. An enclosure can help muffle stepper motor and fan noise.
An enclosure offers a protective cocoon around the Ender 3 to shield it from accidental knocks and bumps, and also protect users, children, and others from injuring themselves on the hot nozzle or heated bed.
An enclosure protects a printer from dust and debris when not in use, extending its lifespan and minimizing the need for regular cleaning.
Buyer’s Guide – Things to Consider When Choosing an Enclosure For Your Creality Ender 3
Material Choice and Potential Issues
Pay close attention to the properties of the material used to make an enclosure.
Non-flammable and heat-resistant materials are a must-have as they drastically reduce the potential for fires. You’ll also want to consider their insulative properties, favoring those that naturally trap heat, such as acrylic.
For parts like brackets that you can 3D print yourself, we suggest avoiding PLA due to its low melting point in favor of ABS, which can withstand the higher temperatures created by an enclosure.
Although not essential, you may want to consider an enclosure, whether DIY or pre-made, fitted with a vent/exhaust and air filtration system.
These can help filter out toxic fumes and funnel hot air away from the Ender 3’s more sensitive components, such as the power supply and other electronic parts.
Effects of Temperature of the Ender 3’s Hardware
Although trapping in heat does wonders for 3D printing ABS and other filaments, it can wreak havoc on the Ender 3’s components.
In particular, too much heat can affect the lifespan and performance of electronic parts such as the power supply, display, and mainboard.
We recommend enclosures that offer well-placed vents to move air away from these components like on the 3D UpFitters enclosure or allow you to house them outside the enclosure or away from the heat sources (nozzle and bed).
Assembly and Storage
Consider how easy an enclosure is to assemble and disassemble, especially if you don’t plan on having a permanent setup.
For example, an IKEA LACK Table enclosure is more or less impossible to disassemble quickly. On the other hand, a tent-style option like the HotBox V2 folds away for storage in seconds.
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