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Guide to Creality Ender 3 Different Models and Upgrades
For many 3D printing hobbyists, the Ender 3 has become well known for producing high-quality prints. This has made it one of the most popular 3D printers of all time. Not only that, the 3D printing community has found it to be not only affordable but easily hackable too.
Creality has produced several Ender 3 models since the original model in 2018, so one of the questions I’m most frequently asked is ‘which model Ender 3 should I get?’.
This article will dive deeper into what differs between the various Ender 3 models and their upgrades. You’ll also learn how each model was upgraded from the last.
What Are the Differences Between the Different Models of Ender 3 Printers?
Across the three Ender 3 models, there are several distinct differences incorporated into each of these machines. Let’s dive into details to explain the differences noticeable across the different Ender 3 printer models.
Creality Ender 3 (original model)
The original Ender 3 was launched in 2018 and has since become one of the most popular 3D printers of all time among 3D printing enthusiasts. The main factor attributed to its high demand is its affordability, with it often being available for less than $200.
This, alongside the fact that it’s highly upgradable, made it stand out from many of its competitors, such as the CR-10 and Anycubic i3 Mega.
For optimum performance, all you need to do is apply some basic adjustments and fine-tuning, and you’ll be able to print high-quality prints over and over again.
This 3D printer’s many appealing aspects made it the most in-demand 3D printer for those on a tight budget.
The features integrated into the Creality Ender 3 include a BuildTak-like heated build plate, a 220 x 220 x 250 mm build volume, a short filament pathway, and a power recovery mode.
Therefore, you shouldn’t struggle when printing a variety of materials, including flexible materials, which even other premium models can’t achieve. It can also print different filaments, including ABS, PETG, PLA, and exotic filaments.
The Ender 3 is easy and straightforward to assemble, despite needing some manual calibration. However, this whole process is made a lot more convenient due to the enlarged bed leveling knobs, a common upgrade on the Ender 3’s spiritual predecessor, the CR-10.
After perfecting the calibrations, you won’t see any difference in print quality between this 3D printer and more expensive models priced over $1000.
The Ender 3 does have some downsides, as you would expect from a budget 3D printer. One issue you’ll quickly realize is that the PSU can be lacking in power, which makes waiting for the heated bed to reach operating temperature an exercise in patience.
It can also suffer from an uneven base and print bed, which requires some tweaks and shimming to rectify.
The main problem with the Ender 3 and most other budget 3D printers is a problem of reduced quality control. This means many Ender 3’s will be 100% perfect with no issues, but some will slip through QC checks with issues such as warped beds.
However, these drawbacks can all be resolved thanks to Ender 3’s hackability. This means there are multiple ways this printer can be fixed and upgraded, from buying a new glass bed to printing optimized fan ducting.
Ender 3 Technical Specs
Here’s a breakdown of the technical specifications of the Ender 3:
- Print volume: 220 x 220 x 250 mm
- Technology: FDM
- Maximum layer resolution: 0.1mm
- Heated bed: Yes
- Filament: 1.75 ABS, mm-PLA, TPU
- LCD screen: Yes
- Connectivity: USB SD Card
- Nozzle: 0.4 mm
- Maximum print speed: 200mm/s
- Min. layer height: 0.1 mm
- Print precision: +/- 0.1 mm
If you’re not looking to spend a lot of money on a 3D printer and still perfecting your 3D printing skills, Ender 3 is a great choice.
Creality Ender 3 Pro
The Ender 3 Pro was designed to address all the shortcomings the Ender 3 had. Creality saw what owners were doing to improve their printers and applied the most common upgrades to their new model to their credit.
Hence there isn’t a lot of variation from the original model. Instead, this model incorporates several welcome changes that make it an evolution of the original Ender 3.
The following upgrades turned the Ender 3 into the Ender 3 Pro:
- More stable chassis with 40mm Y-axis extrusion
- Upgraded Meanwell brand PSU
- Board Fan moved for reliability
- Magnetic printing bed
The first thing Creality looked to address was the 3D printer’s build quality. They did this by redesigning this printer with a more robust 40 x 40 aluminum extrusion positioned on the Y-axis base.
This simple, albeit important feature integrated into the Pro model is designed to enhance the printing surface’s overall stability to give a more stable and therefore reliable and accurate 3D printer.
The Ender 3 Pro also features an upgraded Meanwell Power Supply (PSU) that’s quieter, thinner. It offers an all-around improved performance compared to its predecessor, the Ender 3.
Another upgrade you’ll notice is the board fan being positioned at the printer’s bottom instead of the top, unlike the previous model. This decision was made because the board fan being located over the printer’s base exposed it to falling bits of filament, which could jam or damage the fan.
The Ender 3 Pro build plate also features a C-MAG magnetic printing bed. This sheet is flexible and removable making, meaning you don’t have to struggle to remove finished prints from the build surface. It also includes a textured surface that improves the adhesion for every kind of filament, thereby removing the need to use hairspray, glue sticks, and tape.
Other than those features mentioned above, all other specifications are similar to the Ender 3 Pro, including the design, overall functionalities, and volume. If you instead decide to add these upgrades on the Ender 3 yourself, you’ll have to spend several hundred dollars. This goes to show the Ender 3 Pro’s retail price of $299 is an excellent price.
Creality Ender 3X
Despite being lesser-known than the Ender 3 and Ender 3 Pro, the 3X also belongs to the Ender 3 family. Nonetheless, it isn’t that much different from its predecessors, Ender 3, albeit with some modifications which make it a better choice. It can also be argued that some of its upgrades make it an improvement to the Ender 3 Pro.
The most apparent change is a glass print bed that can be positioned over the heated aluminum plate. This comes already cut to fit on the 220 x 220 mm build platform perfectly. With this type of print bed, you’re guaranteed to get a better material adhesion, plus it becomes a lot easier to detach models after the cooling process is finished.
The Ender 3X also features other modifications, including an MK-10 hotend that greatly minimizes uneven extrusion and the possibility of clogging. Also, it comes with a V-slot with POM (polyacetal) wheels, which reduces the noise produced by the printer while it’s running. Another handy extra is five extra print nozzles included in the package, so you can try out some different nozzle diameters to fine-tune your printing to speed or detail, depending on your needs.
Creality Ender 3 V2
The latest in the Ender 3 family is the V2 model introduced in 2020. This model is aimed to further improve the printing experience of Ender 3 Pro.
The first upgrade is a new sheet metal chassis design with a detachable screen and control unit. This design is ideal. It gives this 3D printer an aesthetically pleasing look. It has a new, unique design that makes it look a lot more professional than a kit.
The V2 also comes with a cable management solution that ensures the cables are all hidden and neatly organized. Together with the new frame design, these exciting features give it a great look and make the Ender 3 safer and more reliable to use.
This V2 3D printer model features a tempered glass platform that offers improved adherence, meaning you can easily take out the model without causing any damage. The Ender 3 V2 also features a 4.3-inch HD color screen, which gives it a straightforward UI that not only appears more up to date but is easier to use. You can detach the screen, making it easier to operate. However, I have to say in practice, this is more a gimmick as it doesn’t offer much advantage unless you have a specific use.
It also features a hidden toolbox integrated on its base, where you’ll find a useful tool storing box underneath. You’ll find handy tools such as pliers, needles, and any other needed tool inside the box.
The Ender 3 V2 also has a 32-bit silent motherboard, which ensures the fans and motors make the least amount of noise possible by intelligently controlling their operation.
It also comes pre-installed with X and Y-Axis belt tensioners, a feature that enables you to adjust tensions for optimum accuracy.
All in all, the Ender 3 V2 is an excellent 3D printer and is essentially the best version of the Ender 3 available.
What Upgrades Can You Buy or Make for The Ender 3?
While the Ender 3D printers are designed to provide you with superb print quality, they can be unreliable at times. You can also improve the quality of your prints further.
There are endless upgrades available both to buy and make or print, thanks to a passionate community of Ender 3 owners eager to share their designs.
Here’s an overview of some of the best modifications you can make to improve each of the different Ender 3D printers’ performance.
Polypropylene Build Plate
This part is designed for the Ender 3 and is designed to provide more stability and rigidity to the stock bed. As a result, it’s an upgrade that’s worth making to make your Ender 3 more robust and stable during use.
After installing this build plate, you get to enjoy a better adhesion for numerous materials, including ABS, PLA, and many more. You’ll be able to effortlessly remove this part once your 3D printer has cooled down without having any concerns about burning yourself. Also, cleaning the polypropylene build plate is very easy.
ED Titan Aero Extruder
The AED Titan Aero Extruder package features a V6 HotEnd, and this extruder pairs well with the modular Ecosystem of the E2D. In addition to this, it’s robust yet lightweight. Suppose you’re hoping to better the quality of prints and performance of your 3D printer. In that case, you should consider mounting the E3D Titan Aero drive extrude straight to your Ender 3 and Ender 3X printer.
It comes with a very tight filament path; hence the subsequent specialty and flexible filaments are picture-perfect. This upgrade also significantly lowers the impact of bumps and knocks on your print’s quality.
While Ender 3, Ender 3 Pro, and Ender 3V2 are available at an affordable price, none of them incorporate the auto-leveling feature. Because of this, you’ll need to manually do the calibration, and this quickly gets very tiresome. The BLTouch auto-leveling sensor upgrade was developed precisely to address this shortcoming.
This upgrade, which can be installed in a broad range of 3D printers, incorporates self-testing techniques, smart functions, alarm, test mode, and alarm release. After incorporating BLTouch auto-leveling, you’ll spend less time and have less hassle trying to level the print bed.
Although this upgrade’s programming and assembly can be fairly time-consuming, it will be worth it in the long run if you usually use the 3D printer for an extended duration.
Raspberry Pi 4
Suppose you don’t have the time to monitor and control your Ender 3 while it’s printing. In that case, the OctoPrint allows the remote control of your 3D printer. With the OctoPrint, you can control and watch the 3D printer from within the web browser. Nevertheless, when operating the great web interface, you must buy a Raspberry Pi board.
The programming of the OctoPrint is open source, leading to many unique plugins to be created by users of the Ender 3. If you’re using an Ender 3 Pro, Ender 3, or an Ender 3 V2, you should consider getting the Raspberry Pi 4. Making the connection is straightforward, and you can find all the needed details on the OctoPrint site.
Which Is the Best Ender 3 Model To Buy?
If you’re stuck between which of these 3D printers to get, the Ender 3 V2 undoubtedly stands out as the best choice. This is because it features many of the upgrades that Ender 3 owners like to carry out, making it significantly more reliable and easier to use.
The Ender 3 Pro is almost always worth getting over the standard model if you can find it at a similar price. This is often the case during sales, such as Black Friday and New Year.
However, the original Ender 3 is still a fantastic 3D printer to buy for its price, so if you are on a limited budget or would enjoy carrying out your own upgrades, I still recommend the original Ender 3.
When searching for a 3D printer that guarantees you exceptional performance, the Ender 3 options from Creality are without a doubt all worth considering. The best part, you don’t have to pay a premium while still ensuring the prints are of exceptional quality.
But due to the various options offered by Creality, you might have had a hard time deciding which best suits your needs. This shouldn’t be an issue anymore after reading this in-depth guide on the different Ender models. The best Ender 3 is the latest V2 model.