How to Upgrade Your Ender 3 The Right Way – Essentials & More


The Ender 3 is a staple 3D printer which most beginners purchase as their entry into the 3D printing field. After a while of printing, there is a desire to upgrade your Ender 3 to make it that much better than the original model.

Luckily there are several upgrades and methods that you can implement to improve your capable machine from Creality’s Ender series.

The best upgrades for your Ender 3 consist of various hardware and software changes that contribute to either making your 3D printing quality better or making the 3D printing process much easier.

Let’s review the type of upgrades that are possible with the Ender 3, and how they seamlessly fit in to give you a polished printing experience.

Purchasable Upgrades

There are multiple options for you to drastically improve your Ender 3 by leaps and bounds. It comes fairly simple with an okay number of features installed, but it turns out, there’s a lot more you can do to make your Ender 3 a killer 3D printer.

We’re going to start with the best official upgrades for the Ender 3 in this purchasable section, then move on to other options.

Redrex All-Metal Extruder

The stock plastic extruder that comes equipped with the Ender 3 is subject to wear and tear not very long after you get your 3D printer. This is why the Redrex Aluminium Bowden Extruder is a fantastic upgrade over what’s featured as default on the Ender 3.

The frame of this extruder is made out of aluminium, as depicted, and provides more sturdiness to the Ender 3 frame. In addition, there’s a distinct Nema stepper motor mount that works great overall in terms of printing and stability.

A Direct Drive setup is supported as well, and many filaments like ABS, PLA, wood-fill, and especially PETG works wonders with the Redrex extruder.

MicroSwiss All-Metal Hot End

The stock hot end with the Bowden tube has become problematic for several users and this is where the MicroSwiss All-Metal Hot End falls in the spotlight. It’s an excellent upgrade over the original hot end and provides very helpful features.

The updated cooling block negates the need for a thermal tube and therefore allows quicker heat dissipation. In addition, Grade 5 Titanium Alloy constitutes the thermal heat break build and refines extrusion for the Ender 3.

It prevents the excess filament from heating up and minimizes stringing.

You can get this awesome upgrade for your Ender 3 by ordering it from Amazon here.

Cmagnet Plates for the Build Platform

The Ender 3 has a fairly decent build platform that does its job, but the Cmagnet platforms are something that many users wish they had upgraded to sooner.

The major benefit of using these shines during print removal. It allows you to remove the build platform, “flex” the plate, and watch your prints pop right off instead of having to scrape them down manually and compromising print quality.

After that, you can just get the Cmagnet plates back in position on the build platform, and repeat the process until necessary.

You can get this upgrade on Amazon by clicking here.

Laser Engraver Add-On

Ender 3 Laser Engraver Add-On - 3D Printerly

One of the major reasons why Ender 3 gained immense popularity is how it presents a plethora of customizable options and enhancements.

One such fine embodiment of that statement is a laser engraver for your Ender 3, making the jump from a nozzle to laser, very quick.

The recommended option for the Ender 3 is 24V, which easily plugs into the mainboard of the 3D printer in question. This is a highly proficient upgrade that really leaves the average user in awe.

Creality says that setting up the laser engraver should be a breeze, and minimal in the effort.

It offers you features such as a low noise level, lightning-fast heat dissipation, a DC cooling fan, magnet absorption, and much more. You can even optimize the laser head and render it according to your working distance on the build platform.

Get the upgrade from the Official Creality website.

Creality Glass Build Plate

One of the most sought-after upgrades for the Ender 3 is the tempered glass build plate that kicks things up a notch for your printing experience.

The build plate is the component of essence considering the adhesion of 3D printed parts on the platform, and this is where Creality introduced pure innovation for those seeking to change the original build surface.

It’s directed to be placed atop the hotbed and is held in place using clips. On the other hand, you get Creality’s characteristic logo with this build plate, keeping your Ender 3 branded, unlike other options.

The enhancement’s surface is made out of carbon and silicon, accumulating to heat resistance up to 400°C. This build plate is miles ahead compared to the stock Ender 3 surface, and very capable when it comes to first layer adhesion.

Get the Creality Glass Build Plate from Amazon for a great price.

Creality Fireproof Enclosure Cover

The main objective of an enclosure is to negate the impact of the external environment, making the 3D printer remain unaffected from the inside.

It’s a high utility upgrade, even got little spaces for you to store your tools in, quick to assemble, and easy to set up. The enclosure can also be bent to amplify storage.

Highlighting the features of this enhancement, a 3D printer enclosure makes sure that the internal temperature remains constant, and isn’t disturbed by other factors.

This is very important when it comes to preventing warping along with curling and maintaining the stability of the print which paves the way for great quality.

In addition, the enclosure’s interior consists of a flame-retardant aluminium film, stopping any potential fires from spreading outside, and minimizing it within. It also brings down the noise levels and is even dustproof.

You can order this incredible add-on for your printer via Amazon.

Get the Normal Creality Enclosure from Amazon.

Get the Large Creality Enclosure from Amazon.

SKR Mini E3 V2 32-Bit Control Board

If you wish to decorate your Ender 3 with whisper-quiet printing and an enhanced experience overall, opt for the SKR Mini E2 V.2 32-bit Control Board.

It’s deemed as a plug-and-play upgrade that can be smoothly incorporated onto your Ender 3. The Control Board packs Marlin 2.0- an open-source firmware that enables your Ender 3 to be adorned with upgrades, and additional safety.

The driver is compatible with the BLTouch bed-leveller and hosts integrated motherboard debugging. To top it off, installing this mainboard is tremendously uncomplicated, and doesn’t even cost an arm and a leg.

The SKR Mini E3 V2 32-Bit Control Board can be purchased from Amazon with quick delivery!

TFT35 E3 V3.0 Touchscreen

Coming in hot as the perfect replacement for the Ender 3’s original LCD screen, BIGTREE Technology has made sure their product blends natural feel and immense functionality side by side.

The screen comprises a touch UI that’s straightforward and comfortable to use.

The firmware is installed simply too, and you don’t have to keep using the tedious stock touchscreen furthermore.

Get the TFT35 E3 V3.0 Touchscreen here on Amazon.

BLTouch Bed-Leveller

The Ender 3 is a proficient machine with some highly impressive features at an unbelievable price. However, it does lack automatic bed-levelling which can get quite tedious and problematic for beginners plus experts alike.

Coming to the rescue, the BLTouch sensor is supremely helpful to level your printing bed automatically, getting rid of the manual process.

BLTouch auto-levelling just doesn’t calibrate your bed for you, it brings along a variety of other smart functions, introspective techniques, an alarm release, and its own testing mode that allows you to tweak things together.

This upgrade whole-heartedly brings down the frustration levels and ranks as a worthy upgrade for your Ender 3.

Get the BLTouch Auto-Leveling System from Amazon.

Capricorn Bowden Tubes & PTFE Couplers

You may be wondering what this is exactly, since the normal tubing on your Ender 3 comes in a cloudy, white type of color. This is the Capricorn PTFE Tubing which replaces that lower quality tubing.

I actually wrote a quick review on it which you can check out here.

This striking upgrade is designed with a constricted, accurate, and a delicately formulated internal diameter that makes printing flexible materials undemanding.

The Capricorn PTFE Tubing is one-metre long and truly holds the power to upscale the performance of your Ender 3, laying waste to prospects of under-extrusion, since the extrusion system becomes so much smoother.

In addition, the stock couplers detach from the extruder assembly gradually, compromising the hot end with space that fills up with molten plastic.

However, with new PTFE couplers and the tube, you get a fresh, sublime upgrade that properly caters for the Ender 3, and eliminates potential problems. Treat your printer with the upgrade here.

Get yourself this high quality tubing from Amazon.

Compression Springs & Aluminum Leveling Nut

When it comes to the build platform and keeping it level, the stock springs can have a hard time staying in place for several prints. That’s why these high quality Comgrow Bed Springs were introduced, to give a strong foundation to your build platform.

They are built to last several years on your Ender 3 or Ender 3 Pro and should lead to you having to level your bed a lot less, since they stay in place for longer.

Included in this lovely package are 4 Comgrow Aluminum Hand Twist Level Nuts, which is much more powerful than the stock plastic nuts you get with your 3D printer, but also twists more tightly.

It has some serious torque behind it, so you can be sure that fine tuning the hot bed is going to be a lot easier with this upgrade.

This is a very easy upgrade to implement, and it’s sure to being that nice little improvement to your 3D printing journey for the long-run.

CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4

Raspberry Pi 4 acts as a computer for the Ender 3, enabling remote access to the printer, and packing powerful specifications itself as well.

This control board hosts and is a base requirement for OctoPrint- a remarkable software upgrade for the Ender 3 that’s we’ll get to later in the article. It’s easy to use and effortless to set up.

The Raspberry Pi 4 is a modification for the Ender 3 that I personally think every printer owner should have from day one. If you haven’t, no need to delay any longer.

There are three different storage capacities with the Raspberry Pi:

Logitech C270 Webcam

A 3D printer-compatible camera is something that makes our life easier when our prints take a considerable amount of time, which is most usual.

Therefore, the Logitech C270 is a worthy name on this article that’s compatible with Raspberry Pi and boasts a great community.

Its popularity has lent it undying fame on Thingiverse as many users have 3D printed innumerable mods and mounts for this entry-level webcam.

Get the Logitech C270 from Amazon now to record cool time-lapses, review how a print failure occurred, or just monitor your printer working remotely.

Dual Extruder

Direct Drive Extruder

3D Printed Upgrades

You might not need to purchase anything when you can print upgrades with your very own 3D printer. Here are some of the best ones for the Ender 3 that simply reinvigorate your printing adventures.

Fan Guard

Ender 3 Upgrades - Fan Guard - 3D Printerly

Creality fixed an overwhelming issue with the Ender 3 Pro, but it still exists in the Ender 3.

The printer consists of a fan that draws in air. It’s situated right below the mainboard, and filament remains or even dust can build up inside, causing potential problems for your Ender 3.

This is why you can find a 3D printed “Board Fan Guard” on Thingiverse to help you out in this matter. The guard actively secures the mainboard from any unfortunate accidents and prevents withering trouble for you.

You can even find designer prints on the website for some really cool fan guards. Check it out here.

Cable Chains

Ender 3 Upgrades - Cable Chains - 3D Printerly

One of the most precise upgrades you can find for the Ender 3 is a chain for your cables that hang freely at the back of the printer.

When they lay unattended without any support, they’re bound to cause problems for you and the printer by snagging, mainly when there’s movement along the Y-axis.

In truth, this quality upgrade is a must-have for every Ender 3 user. These chains will decrease stress and prevent any unwanted snags that can become a potential hazard for us.

Again, there are many stylish cable chains that you’ll find on Thingiverse. Some of them are even enclosed to provide you a fashionable upgrade. Get this 3D printed upgrade here.

The Petsfang Duct

Ender 3 Upgrades - Petsfang Duct - 3D Printerly

Another essential upgrade for your 3D printing escapades is the tremendously popular Petsfang Duct, designed to improve airflow across the extruder.

Let us tell you beforehand though, printing this bad boy is far from easy and might take you many attempts before you get it perfect.

However, if you do, you’re going to love the change it brings. You will note how the print quality is refined because there’s a better flow of fresh air that’s aimed directly on the filament.

Take our word for it, the Petsfang Duct is a tantalizing enhancement over the stock blower setup. Moreover, it’s also compatible with the BLTouch sensor, so you can combine the greater quality of prints with automatic bed-levelling without a worry. Download it here.

Print Bed Handle

Ender 3 Upgrades - Print Bed Handle - 3D Printerly

Another highly capable addition to your Ender 3 is a bed handle that’s categorized as a thoroughly unique upgrade. It’s fixed below the print platform and is tirelessly used to move the heated print bed without the risk of any injuries.

This enhancement is only for the Ender 3 and doesn’t apply to the Ender 3 Pro.

Here’s how you can start correctly. First, you’ll have to undo the bed levelling knobs, and then proceed to secure the handle between those knobs and the print bed.

This ensures a quality fix, while the upgrade appropriately becomes a handle for your bed. Please take note that you have to print the handle horizontally and while using support structures. Check it out on Thingiverse here.

Extruder and Control Knobs

Ender 3 Upgrades - Extruder Knob & Screen Control Knob - 3D Printerly

Frequent users of the Ender 3 have reported heavy complaints concerning the difficulty of loading filaments into the Bowden tube and pushing them along.

However, with a 3D printed Extruder Knob readily available from Thingiverse, filament loading complications are a thing of the past.

Additionally, the control knob of the Ender 3 that’s used to navigate through the printer’s controls could’ve been designed much more smoothly. It tends to slip out each time you try to get a firm grip on it.

Hence, another handy, small-scale upgrade for the Ender 3 is an easy-to-control knob that a slight protrusion, making the process fairly easy. Check out the extruder knob here, while the control knob file can be seen by clicking on this link.

Software & Settings Upgrades

There’s no doubt about the competency of the Ender 3, but it’s surefire that hardware is just half the story. Having the correct software, and more importantly, the right settings can be the key to getting amazing prints.

In this section, you’re going to get the best settings for the Cura slicer- a software that comes stock with the Ender 3 for free and is entirely open-source. But first, let’s have a brief look at how Simplify3D measures up.

The Simplify3D Software

Simplify3D is a premium quality slicing software for 3D printers that cost about $150, unlike the free Cura. Being a paid product, Simplify3D packs some highly advanced features that outclass the Cura software exponentially.

The support customization in Simplify3D goes way beyond anything else to offer you unparalleled convenience. “Manual Placement” is one of the features that allow the addition and removal of support items very easy and visually pleasing.

In addition, the process arrangement in this software is miles ahead of Cura as well. Its intuitiveness leads you to print multiple objects on the build platform with each of them having their own specific settings.

This is quite possible on Cura too, but the clarity with Simplify3D is inimitable.

Temperature

Temperature is undoubtedly one of the most alarming factors to keep in mind when printing with any thermoplastic. However, the correct settings for this are usually going to be dictated by the type and brand of filament you’re using.

If you look on the side of your filament roll, you’re probably going to see the recommended settings.

While there’s no definite value for the perfect temperature, there sure are ideal ranges, which can increase or decrease depending on the nozzle type or even room temperature.

This is why it’s best to test the printing temperature with each new filament roll to evaluate the perfect settings for your 3D printer.

For PLA, we recommend printing between 180-220°C.
For ABS, somewhere between 210-250°C should do the trick.
For PETG, a good temperature is usually between 220-265°C.

Also, a temperature tower is effective in determining a filament’s perfect temperature setting. We advise going through that as well.

Layer Height

Layer height is crucial in determining your print’s detail, and resolution. If you half the layer height, you print twice as many layers once, but that’s going to cost you extra time.

Finding the perfect balance here is what we’re on about, and fortunately, we’ve come quite close to the real deal.

If you want polished detail on your print and don’t really care about the time that’s consumed, opt for 0.12mm of layer height.

On the contrary, if you want your prints in a hurry, and wouldn’t mind minor detailing on your prints, we suggest 0.2mm.

The stepper motor on the Ender 3 has a layer height which works best in increments of 0.04mm, which are known as Magic Numbers.

So when you are choosing a layer height for your 3D prints, you should choose the following values:

  • 0.04mm
  • 0.08mm
  • 0.12mm
  • 0.16mm
  • 0.2mm
  • 0.24mm
  • 0.28mm and so on…

Print Speed

Print speed is yet another constituent of maintaining a great standard of printing that needs attending to. If you print too fast, you run the risk of ruining the quality and details, and on the same side, you don’t want to wait 6 months to get your print.

For PLA, most 3D printer experts print somewhere between 45 mm/s and 65 mm/s.

You can comfortably try out printing at 60 mm/s, but if it’s a print that requires immense detail, we advise decreasing this setting gradually to see what works best for you. Drop this speed a bit, and you get the best values for printing PETG.

For this thermoplastic, we recommend 30 to 55 mm/s, and slowly working your way up as per the need.

In other news, you’ve got to be extra careful with flexible materials like TPU. We recommend starting slow and maintaining a speed between 20-40 mm/s. This should do the trick for you.

ABS, another popular thermoplastic, is quite the volatile trouble-monger, not to mention that it can produce great quality prints as well contrarily.

We recommend a speed of 45-65 mm/s, the same as PLA, with ABS. Several have reported these values to be ideal.

Moreover, as far as travel speed is concerned, you can move around the nozzle head without any extrusion as high as 150 mm/s.

In addition, it might be worth mentioning that for big prints that couldn’t care less about the details, you can print finely with the Ender 3 at a speed of 120 mm/s.

Retraction

Retraction is a phenomenon that verily tackles stringing and oozing while 3D printing. It reduces pressure on the nozzle by reversing the extruder motor, eliminating the prospect of any unnecessary extrusion.

Perfect retraction settings have taken some time to be found, but it turns out that a distance of 6 mm at a speed of 25 mm/s works wonders for PLA.

Keep the speed the same, but keep the distance of 4 mm with PETG, and you get the optimum retraction settings for this thermoplastic. For ABS, however, you can print faster as it allows speedy retraction.

We recommend a distance of 6mm at a speed of 45 mm/s.

Acceleration and Jerk

The stock settings for default and maximum acceleration are both set at 500 mm/s, inappropriately slow, as numerous people affirm. Also, XY-jerk has a value of 20 mm/s.

The default settings in Cura are a good enough start for your acceleration & jerk settings, which happen to be 500mm/s & 8mm/s respectively.

I actually wrote an article about Getting the Perfect Acceleration & Jerk Settings which you can check out. The quick answer is to set it to around 700mm/s & 7mm/s then to trial and error values, one by one to see the effects on print quality.

OctoPrint

Another software upgrade for your Ender 3 is Octoprint which has become a standard for those wanting to monitor their 3D printers at a distance. To get this amazing upgrade working, you’ll have to buy the Raspberry Pi 4 for OctoPrint’s functioning.

It brings you unique community-created features with it being fully open-source. Setting all this up doesn’t take a lot of time, and is painless, to say the least.

Through your internet browser, you can watch what your Ender 3 is doing through a webcam feed, record time-lapses, and even control print temperatures. Furthermore, the software gives you feedback and fills you in about the current print status.

Best of all, and this came as a surprise to me too, you can pause and start your printer both at the comfort of your browser as well. Pretty nifty, right?

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