The Ender 3 series from Creality are one of the most sold and used 3D printers around but assembling it can be a little tricky, depending on which Ender 3 you have. I decided to write this article with the main ways to build and assemble different types of Ender 3 machines.
Keep reading to find out how to get this done.
How to Build the Ender 3
Building up the Ender 3 is quite a long process because it doesn’t have much pre-assembled and there are many steps to take. I’ll be taking you through the basic process of building up the Ender 3 so you can know what the process is like.
These are the parts that come with your Ender 3:
- Screws, washers
- Aluminum profiles (metal bars)
- 3D printer base
- Allen keys
- Flush cutters
- Spool holder pieces
- Extruder pieces
- Stepper motors
- LCD screen
- Micro-USB reader with SD card
- Power supply
- AC power cable
- Z axis limit switch
- X-axis pulley
- 50g of PLA
- Bowden PTFE tubing
I’ll be referring to many of these when detailing the step by step of mounting it. These pieces are mostly the same for the Ender 3 Pro/V2 as well, just the S1 model will differ as we will talk more in another section, but they have different levels of being pre-assembled.
Once you remove all the items from the Ender 3 package, you can start to build up the machine.
Here’s a general overview of how to build the Ender 3:
- Adjust the Bed
- Install the Metal Frame Pieces (Uprights) to the Base
- Connect the Power Supply
- Install the Z-Axis Limit Switch
- Install Z-Axis Motor
- Build/Mount the X-Axis
- Fix the Gantry Frame at the Top
- Connect the LCD
- Set Spool Holder & Test your Printer
Adjust the Bed
The bed should be pretty stable to have the best operation. You can adjust the stability of the bed by turning the eccentric nuts at the bottom of the bed. These are basically wheels on the 3D printer base that moves the bed back and forth.
Simply turn the Ender 3 base on its back, take the wrench that comes with the 3D printer, and turn the eccentric nuts until there is little to no wobble. It shouldn’t be too tight, and you should turn it counter-clockwise to do this.
You’ll know it’s done properly when the bed stops wobbling and the bed slides back and forth easily.
Install the Metal Frame Pieces (Uprights) to the Base
Next step is to mount the two metal frame pieces, also known as the uprights, to the base of the Ender 3. You’ll use the longer screws, which are the M5 by 45 screws. You can find them inside the bag of screws and bolts.
The manual recommends to mount them both at this stage but a few users suggest focusing on mounting the one on the electronics side as it is the main upright that the arm and stepper motor will be connected to.
These need to be mounted perfectly straight so you should use some kind of tool to help you level it, like a Machinist’s Square Hardened Steel Ruler, which you can find on Amazon, to make sure that the upright is mounted nicely.
One user mentioned that it was perfect for helping him put his 3D printer together.
Once you mount the first metal frame piece on the electronics side, you can just repeat the process for the one on the opposite side. Users suggest turning the base of the printer on its side to make this a little easier.
Connect the Power Supply
The power supply needs to be attached to the right side of the 3D printer. It should sit on the 3D printer base and attach to the aluminum extrusions with some M4 x 20 screws.
Install the Z-Axis Limit Switch
You want to connect the Z-axis limit switch to the 3D printer using your 3mm Allen key. It’s mounted on the left side of the 3D printer base with some T-nuts. You have to slightly loosen the T-nuts with your Allen key, then fit the limit switch into the aluminum extrusion.
Once the T-nut is lined up, you tighten it and the nut should rotate to hold it in place.
Install Z-Axis Motor
The Z-axis motor needs to be connected to the base, which you can position carefully so the holes line up on the 3D printer. You can secure it with the M4 x 18 screws and tighten it up.
After that, you can insert the T8 lead screw into the coupling, making sure to loosen the coupling screw so it can slide in fully, and tightening it up afterwards.
Build/Mount the X-Axis
The next step consists of building and mounting the X-axis. There are a few parts that need to be assembled before you can place it on the 3D printer’s aluminum extrusions or metal frame.
I’d recommend looking at the manual or watching a tutorial video to get this assembled properly, though it shouldn’t be too difficult. It also requires the installation of the belt on the X-axis carriage which can be tricky.
Once it’s all assembled, you can slide it on the vertical extrusions.
You can adjust the eccentric nuts next to the wheels since it adjusts how close the wheel is to the metal frame. It should be smooth and not wobbling.
After installing the belt, be sure to tighten it so there is a bit of tension.
Fix the Gantry Frame at the Top
You should have the last metal bar which attaches to the top of the 3D printer to close the frame. These use M5 x 25 screws and washers.
Connect the LCD
At this stage, you can connect the LCD which is the navigation/control screen for the 3D printer. It uses M5 x 8 screws to secure the LCD frame in place, along with a ribbon cable to transfer the data.
Make sure your LCD is working properly, when testing your printer if no image shows up, check these connections to make sure the LCD was properly installed.
Set Spool Holder & Test your Printer
The final steps are mounting your spool holder, which can be mounted at the top of the Ender 3, or on the side as preferred by some users. You then want to ensure your power supply is set to the correct local voltage depending on what country you are in.
The options are 110V or 220V for the Ender 3.
These steps are quite general, so I’d highly recommend checking out the assembly video below by CHEP to assemble your Ender 3. You can also check out this useful PDF instruction manual for assembling the Ender 3.
How to Setup the Ender 3 Pro/V2
The steps for setting up the Ender 3 Pro and V2 are very similar to the Ender 3. I detailed some basic steps below:
- Adjust the Bed
- Mount the Metal Frame Pieces (Uprights)
- Build the Extruder & Install the Belt
- Make Sure Everything is Square
- Install the Power Supply & Connect the LCD
- Mount Spool Holder & Install Final Connectors
Adjust the Bed
The Ender 3 Pro/V2 have a lot of improvements over the first Ender 3 but also share a lot of similarities when building it.
First step in setting up your Ender 3 Pro/V2 is adjusting the bed, just tighten the eccentric nuts underneath it and on the sides so the bed won’t wobble back and forth.
You can turn your printer on its side and turn the nuts counter-clockwise but not too tight as you want to leave space for the bed to move smoothly.
Mount the Metal Frame Pieces (Uprights)
In order to set up your Ender 3 Pro/V2 you’ll need to mount both the metal frame pieces, the right and the left one, you will need to tighten two screws for each of them and attach them to the base of the printer.
It is recommended you get a set of T Handle Allen Wrenches, which are available on Amazon as they will help you with the whole set up process.
Build the Extruder & Install the Belt
Then your next step will be mounting the aluminum extrusion to the bracket with the extruder motor with the help of two screws that will keep it in place.
They can be hard to get to so don’t tighten them all the way and adjust them so it goes perpendicular to the rail.
You want to achieve a perfect 90 degrees, so leaving the screws a bit loose will help you move it up or down and get it lined up with the bracket.
Next you will need to build the carriage, using the M4 16mm screws that come with the printer. Tighten them just enough to leave some space to move the arm.
Then you will insert the belt with its teeth down and it may be a little hard to pull it by hand so you should try using needle-nose pliers, which are available on Amazon, to pull it.
You should pull both sides, going through the flat side and feeding it around the gear so it doesn’t grab, allowing you to pull it through. You will need to flip the belt so you can feed it through the holes and pull it right against the gear.
Mount the Hot End Assembly
Next step you will be installing the hot end assembly onto the rail. Users recommend to first take apart the idler adjuster apart so it will be easier to connect the belt through the hot end assembly.
Then you should slide the belt through the wheels and the wheels onto the aluminum extrusion. Now you can use the idler adjuster you took apart to help you get the belt connected through the hot end assembly.
Lastly you’ll just need to mount the brackets and install the hot end assembly on the rails of your printer.
Make Sure Everything is Square
After connecting the assembly you mounted on the step above to the metal frame pieces, you should make sure that everything is square.
To make sure everything is square you should position two rulers on the bed that are square, one on each side and then put another ruler off the beam to make sure that they are equal on both sides.
If needed, you can try tightening the screws at the top again, as having them properly tightened is key to making sure everything is square.
Install the Power Supply & Connect the LCD
The power supply is installed behind the beam and is the next step in setting up your Ender 3 Pro/V2. Depending on the location of the world you are in, you may need to set the voltage to 115 at the back of the power supply.
If you’re installing the Ender 3 Pro, then there are two screws to hold the power supply behind the beam and two screws to mount the LCD, just don’t forget to connect its exp3 connector, which is keyed and will only go into one spot.
If you’re installing the Ender 3 V2, the LCD goes on the side so you may want to flip your printer on its side so it’s easier to mount. You will need to tighten up three t-nuts on its bracket and install its connector, which is keyed and can only go in one way.
Mount Spool Holder & Install Final Connectors
Final steps to set up your Ender 3 Pro/V2 are mounting the spool holder, with two screws and t-nuts, and then mounting the spool arm into it with the help of a nut you can twist to tighten it.
Just remember the spool arm should go into the back of your printer.
Then connect all the connectors around the printer. They are all labeled and should not present any difficulty to connect.
Check out the video below to see how the Ender 3 Pro is set up.
Check out the video below to see how the Ender 3 V2 is set up.
How to Build the Ender 3 S1
These are the main steps you need to follow in order to build the Ender 3 S1
- Mount the (Uprights)
- Install the Extruder & Mount the Filament Holder
- Mount the Cables & Install the LCD
Mount the Metal Frame Pieces (Uprights)
The Ender 3 S1 comes in very few pieces and is very easy to mount.
First install both metal frame pieces (uprights), which are already connected to each other, to the base of the printer, making sure that the little motors are facing the back of the unit towards power.
Then, you just need to tighten a couple of screws, users recommend flipping the printer on its side so you can do it with more ease.
Install the Extruder & Mount the Filament Holder
Installing the extruder on the Ender 3 S1 is very easy, it goes right in the middle of the arm and you will just need to place it there and tighten a few screws.
You won’t even need to hold it while installing it as it has a place built perfectly for it to just sit nicely.
Then, the next step is mounting the filament holder, which goes on top of the printer and will be facing backwards away from it. Plug in the connector for the little unit form and you should be all set.
Connect the Cables & Install the LCD
You will then need to connect the cables for the printer, which are all labeled so you should not have any trouble with them.
There are cables on the X, Y, and Z motors, extruder all clearly marked so you can connect them in the right places.
To mount the LCD screen, screw in the plate to hold it but the actual screen gets plugged in and will sit nicely on top of it.
Check out the video below to see how the Ender 3 S1 is set up.
How to Start First Print with the Ender 3
The Ender 3 comes with a USB that has a test print already on it.
It also comes with 50g of PLA filament for the first print. The model should have its settings done already since it’s just a G-Code file that the 3D printer understands.
These are the main steps to start doing more prints with the Ender 3:
- Choose & Load your Filament
- Choose a 3D Model
- Process/Slice the Model
Choose & Load your Filament
Before your first print with your newly assembled Ender 3, you should choose the filament you will want to work with.
I’d recommend choosing PLA as your main filament because it’s simple to print, has a lower temperature than most other filaments, and is the most common filament out there.
Some other choices are:
- TPU (flexible)
After you know which filament you will want to print and get some of it, you will need to load it into your Ender 3.
When installing your filament into the extruder, make sure that you cut the filament at a diagonal angle so you can feed through the extruder hole easier.
Choose a 3D Model
After choosing and loading your preferred filament, you will want to download a 3D model that you can 3D print. This can be done by going to websites like:
These are websites full of downloadable 3D models which are user-generated and uploaded for your 3D printing pleasure. You can even get some high quality paid models, or get some custom designed by talking to a designer.
I usually recommend going with Thingiverse since it’s the largest repository of 3D model files.
A highly recommended and very popular model to 3D print is the 3D Benchy. It might be the most 3D printed item because it helps test your 3D printer to see if it’s performing at a good level. If you can 3D print a 3D Benchy, you’ll be able to 3D print a lot of things successfully.
If it doesn’t come out too well, you can do some basic troubleshooting, for which there are plenty of guides.
Process/Slice the Model
To correctly process/slice your 3D model you need to adjust settings such as:
- Printing Temperature
- Bed Temperature
- Layer Height & Initial Layer Height
- Print Speed & Initial Layer Print Speed
These are the main settings, but there are plenty more that you can control if you desire.
When you get these settings right, it can significantly improve the quality and success rate of your models.
Level the Bed
Another important step in order to start printing successful 3D models out of your Ender 3 is having a leveled bed. If your bed isn’t properly leveled then filament may not stick on it causing a lot of problems such as warping or problems getting your first layer right.
You’ll need to disable the stepper motors through the menu on the LCD screen to allow you to manually level the bed and move it freely.
There are many tutorials covering different methods to level your bed available online.
CHEP made a great bed levelling video that you can check out below.