Checking in with my Ender3 pro

I picked up a: SainSmart x Creality Ender-3 PRO 3D Printer from woot over black Friday. Figured the entry price point was low enough for me to tinker with, and not something I would be angry at if I left on the curb. ($155)

Assembled it over Christmas, and have been dickering with it ever since.

Upgrades to it:
- Creality 3d upgrade kit of new springs, better tube couplers, metal extruder, and capricorn tubing. ($20)
- BIGTREETECH SKR Mini E3 V1.2 (new main board) ($35)

All the upgrades have gone in.. the mainboard has better firmware support and silent steppers so a plus.

The springs were super to keeping the manual bed leveling less of an issue, couplers to keep the tube in, metal extruder because the plastic one will wear out with filament rubbing on it, and tubing for heat/retraction issues.

I also picked up some digital calipers and ferrules crimper but the latter was overkill as the pro's power supply and mainboard were pretty rock solid.

I use Cura for my slicer. Never thought how much time it sucks to print. .that may be the death of my love for this project.

My boss picked up a Sovol3d on his friend's recommendations. It has a lot of nice upgrades for an Ender3 over mine, and wouldn't be a bad entry model.

After a lot of futzing, swearing, and drinks I think I have this thing tuned in for PLA. The cube and level verifier helped quite a bit.

Oh geeze, and yes.. CALIBRATE THOSE ESTEPS! That seemed to be the last blocker to get this really humming.

Things I've printed:

The makerbot fidget gear was especially a great moment. After failure and failure and more failure I finally have things tuned enough withing tolerance to print functional gears - in their housing! Super neat.

I am off to inspect 'OpenCad' to see what I can come up with on my own.
Yeah my tail for my 1/8 scale Little Boy took 36 hrs.


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Viper16 - that's a rough one to puzzle out. Is it layer shifting always to one specific direction? Like always back or always forward?

Any wonky acceleration issues?

Is the gantry arms for-realsies square and not loose? That the spacing between the vertical arms are the same when the gantry is at the bottom as compared to when it's at the top? The arms are not twisted by a wee amount or having any play?

Depending on the printer age it very well may be just a y motor swap.

Acceleration issues I haven't noticed. I will try to reduce speed to 90% and see if I get same results. the failure always appears to be offsetting the same direction (towards the back the printer) . I will check for square. The printer has been in service from 4/19.

What modi said, also I would also check wiring. You might have a connection that is weakening and it is causing a couple skips on your motor.

And sometimes the nozzle can impact a high spot in the model where there was a z-hop and retraction, it can leave a peak. This can make the motor skip if the bed adhesion is good.

I will definitely check the wiring. I will check my failed prints for any anomaly. The bed adhesion is outstanding, I am using the flex plate, and I have to work hard to separate my prints.
Has anyone here with the Ender 3 had success with using the USB port on the front when connecting to a computer? No matter what I have tried, the software can never find it
obviouslytom - no I haven't. Just been using the SD card. Have you considered using octoprint instead of tying up a whole computer?
You have to download the right drivers for Windows. I've run mine from a PC but now run it from a Raspberry Pi on Octoprint.
Christmas present for my son who's a big Portal fan.

Built using a design I found on Thingiverse. But I didn't like the mains powered bulb, so I changed things up. It's powered by a USB wall wart and cable that runs up the back leg. That goes into a 5 -> 12v DC booster to run strings of white 12v LEDs on the sides and red ones around the "eye". It also powers a bluetooth receiver and amplifier with a speaker at the bottom pointing up, and one at the top pointing down. To do all this I had to take the original files and add some rectangular cutouts for the PCBs, some complicated semi-cylindrical ones for the speakers, and design some side plates for the LED strings. I also used the optional "eye" details, but just made a circular piece of acrylic instead of printing it out of PETG. The whole thing is PLA+.


Lights on!


Oh yeah. It has a freakin' laser beam! 5v laser module wired in as well.
This is off an Ender 3 v2. Purchased new @ Amazon. This was chosen based upon the /r/3dprinting, based off of widespread community support and going into it, I knew that this wasn't going to be a turn-key experience.

Retraction Distance: 3mm
Retraction speed (both Retract and Prime) is 25mm
Extra Prime amount is 0mm
Retraction minimum travel is 3mm
Maximum retraction count: 10
Minimum extrusion distance window is 6.0mm
Combing mode : "Within Infill"
Max combing distance with no Retract: 30.0mm
Retract before outer Wall is : Checked
Z Hop When Retracted is : Unchecked

My temperature setting is 200c for the white hatchbox PLA. I ran the orange PLA+ @ 205c Both were determined with a temperature tower. The Hatchbox looked good from 190-210c, so I arbitrarily picked 200 "in the middle."

My original problem I had all pointed to a bowden tube gap, presumably caused by improper initial assembly. I had this awful problem with filament underextruding after about 2.4mm height into a print, causing this dreadful "click-click-click-click-click-click-click" sound at the extruder knob. The gear was slipping across the filament, gouging the heck out of it, to the point where it would not feed. Steps taken to "fix" that issue, involved changing to all-metal extruder (Crealty brand), capricorn tube and upgraded couplers, new nozzle.
What finally got my under-extrusion fixed was to thoroughly clean the pre-heated hot-end with spare tubing, and a new nozzle, installed flush, backed off, tube installed, then tightened back up.

I'll try the temperature settings. The orange stuff, was intended for some more "durable" products, the white Hatchbox was purchased by reputation only, as a high-quality premium filament. I wanted to remove some doubt.

I am, Cura 4.10.0 with 4 plugins (Calibration Shapes, Custom Supports, Cylindric Custom Support, and OctoPrint Connection) and the default "Crealty Ender-3" printer profile.
I’m sure you have figured it out by now, but just for reference for anyone else reading, your issue was probably the minimum retraction count settings.
This setting sets how many times the extruder will retract within the Minimum extrusion distance window. So you were setup for 10 times within 6mm, which will work for simple prints, but more detailed prints will need to retract the filliment more than simple prints. Once you get past 10 retractions in 6mm of fillement, the extruder stops retracting and you get stringing. This setting is meant to keep the extruder gear from eating into the fillement with too many extractions. But a good filament go through the extruder gear way more than 10 times. I have mine set to 100, and haven’t had an issue yet.
Hadn't had a reason to print anything in a bit, but this sure looks awesome!
It was a bit more of a pain than I was expecting. Snapped a few skin parts, filed a TON, and even used a bit of glue.

PETG blue skeleton, white PLA skin. The leg skins needed a lot of filing for me, and I ended up gluing the skin things for the hands on as well as the head.. but dang, it was a fun one to hyper focus on.

I feel it was about 3hours for the skeleton plate as a whole, and like 2 hours on the skin plate.

So would anyone say that the Ender 3 Pro would still be a decent buy for $99 new?

I'm looking at a $99 Microcenter coupon this morning. I have been tinkering with the idea of a 3d printer.
For $99 it's a steal, IMO.

However...I've put a fair amount of money into mine because there are just little things I find that can be better. A new solid metal hotend for higher temperature plastics, changing the default loud fans, adding a Raspberry Pi for OctoPrint, adding a glass plate, spare teflon tubes and hardened nozzles, etc. I might even get a silent driver board some day. I've probably spent $100-200 in upgrades. Plus, I've spent hundreds of dollars on filaments, so really the base model printer ends up being just the start. It's a good start to see if it's for you. I've almost outgrown my printer, I really want something with about 50% more build area in each dimension, the 220x220x240mm size has become constraining.
Considering a v2 is still around $200, I'd say $99 is still a great price for a Pro.

They have the Neo series out now, but I'd steer clear because the smooth extrusions will limit a lot of upgrades that were designed for open extrusions.

Same with the S1. Ended up sending it back partially for that reason. Other reason is it didn't print all that much better than the $55 aquila I got...
It's nice to know it can be modified and improved. I think this weekend I'm going to grab it.
It'll give me the week to see what essential upgrades can be done to it.
It's nice to know it can be modified and improved. I think this weekend I'm going to grab it.
It'll give me the week to see what essential upgrades can be done to it.
So much of the Ender 3 can be modified, it's more or less the standard for getting into 3D printing. There are several articles online about upgrading things. Start with the upgrades you can print yourself, that will give you experience printing while making something actually useful. Here is some of what I've printed (in no particular order):

Fang cooling fan shroud
Power supply cover
Raspberry pi enclosure
Spool holder
Filament guide similar to this but I eventually designed my own to incorporate a filament runout sensor
Spatula holder

You can upgrade the hot end if you want to get into higher temperature plastics like PETG. I just used a cheap one off of Amazon and it seems to work well enough. I also bought an Ender glass plate from Amazon.
There's a Twitter account I keep tabs on that posts some great deals on 3d printer stuff (literally the only thing I use Twitter for)

Good way to save a significant chunk on parts/filament/etc

For instance, a few posts down there's a microswiss all metal hotend clone for 80% off on Amazon.
My ender 3 (regular not pro) is one of my faves. It is modded to hell and back but even so it printed great out of the box. If you enjoy tinkering the ender is a great platform, not needed but it is nice to have the ability. And plenty of resources out there to learn from. The microcenter deal has caused 5 people to start in 3d printing here at work.

And any questions feel free to post in the forums, lot of folks here print so someone has an answer for ya.
So would anyone say that the Ender 3 Pro would still be a decent buy for $99 new?

I'm looking at a $99 Microcenter coupon this morning. I have been tinkering with the idea of a 3d printer.
Definitely , no question.
And don’t upgrade anything until you’ve gone through several rolls of filament and get the hang of things and can hone in on what you really need, and stuff you don’t need.
Definitely , no question.
And don’t upgrade anything until you’ve gone through several rolls of filament and get the hang of things and can hone in on what you really need, and stuff you don’t need.

I agree with this statement so much... so many people buy a 3d printer along with most new parts and really not much other than the shell is left... then they say.. I cant figure out why this piece of crap isnt working right..

I have an ender 5+ and love it. Albeit, paid more than the ender 3 price tag but it has made me tons of stuff....

just fired it up but it is cold in my basement and the print started lifting.. I have to so make an enclosure....
Some days ya wake up and make something. I saw a 10mm socket key ring holder using a nut, a bolt, and a washer. Pfffst. An hour on a lazy Sunday to get the right friction fit, and another dialing in. 13 minute print and $0.03 of filament!
I should do something like that for a 6mm socket for changing out nozzles...
Finally called it quits on the 3d modeling, and yeeted that shit into a printer.

RDR2 'Legend of the East' satchel parts.


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