Creality Ender 3

I have (2) of these printers. The first one I purchased back in May 2019 and the second in June 2019. The second one is still in the box and has never been opened as I originally purchased it for spare parts and the price was ridiculously low from Hobby King at the time. I also thought that with the trade war between China and the US it might be difficult to obtain so inexpensively.

This printer is completely awesome despite the fact that if you use it for about a month straight the (plastic) extruder feeder starts wearing out and you have to take immediate action to solve the underfeeding problem that arises because the plastic extruder feeder and the spring start losing tension and your filament isn't being fed properly.

If you have not been paying attention to the forums around the net (like I was not) you will begin to think you have a problem with infill and start troubleshooting in the wrong direction.

The best approach in my experience is to just purchase an upgraded extruder feed kit, some stainless steel 40T gears and replace the entire junk with something a bit better.

I spent far too much time troubleshooting nonsense when I should have been reading online but I can be stubborn like that. Right now I also have way too much time on my hands as it is, and although I have to admit I was ready to throw this printer away several times but after musing on the problem a few days (and printing on my Tevo LM Delta) I did not give up.

A few days ago I was about to change the filament reel and accidentally pulled the filament out of the extruder and it slid out easily even though it was supposed to be fully loaded and the spring engaged on the extruder feeder.

That was when I finally realized what my particular problem was and starting devising solutions. At first I tried to stretch the spring but it didn't go nearly far enough to create enough tension on the filament so that it would feed properly at all times.

I started thinking about lame plastic junk and then I DID sit down at my workstation and start researching upgraded extruder hardware for the Ender 3. I soon realized that all the Creality models have this issue and there are a lot of upgrade options for the extruder feeder and the gears for same.

I wasted a lot of time and energy when I should have done more research and then ordered parts.

The reason why I said I love this printer was for the first month I could print anything and no matter how shoddy the leveling job I did with this (manually-leveled) printer it produced usable prints. It was simply unstoppable.

I believe I can make it behave well again if I just solve this extruder feed issue permanently. I found the various shim solutions you stick behind the spring in between the lever and the body of the extruder feeder) and it is working temporarily but but if you are going to stack shims to solve the tensioner issue, you soon realize the nub on the lever is too short to safely retain more than 2mm thick shim.

I guess if you could print a new lever with a longer nub the shim solution could be long term until something else breaks in this plastic assembly.

I feel the best and long term solution (if you want to keep this little basic printer in operation) is to replace the extruder feeder with something made from metal. I don't think you will regret it.