Creality Ender 3
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2019-07-01 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.

2019-07-18 I have been been working on several failures with this little printer.

I first completely replaced the extruder feeder assembly with an all-metal unit but due to poor design, and incorrect hardware that came with the "kit" I purchased has made the upgrade less than successful.
I originally had to replace everything because the plastic handle broke at the point it holds the grooved-wheel.
The screws included with the "upgrade" were too large to fit inside the spring as it was supposed to. I had to improvise that for now until I can find a matching thread with a small enough head to fit inside the spring.

It won't do any good to complain about the chinese hardware to the vendor as we already know.

I have learned a lot lately about the Creality Ender 3 extruder, it's design and it's characteristics.

Since the number of gear teeth is different I had to add this to my Creality Slicer start gcode:

; Because new extruder drive gear
M92 E92

I am still having issues with the mechanical function of the extruder feeder which occasionally causes under extrusion.

The second problem was the motherboard died, specifically the extruder circuit. All other (X,Y,Z) functioned normally. I was able to troubleshoot that easily and ordered a replacement 1.1.3 board from someone on eBay. Then I ordered (2) more boards from Creality Direct because I want some spares.

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It's not a coincidence that somehow my extruder feeder falls apart and then the Extruder circuit on the mainboard fails too. I just don't know how I killed it if I did at all.

I have made several botched prints since yesterday and several successful prints. The ones that were ruined seemed to have under-extrusion issues. I am still working on this, but it is related to improper tension between the extruder feeder gear and the grooved wheel on the extruder handle.

I had to use plastic shims even on the new extruder feeder (I will add some pictures shortly.)

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That has resulted in some successful prints since then.

I was 14 hours into a print on my Tevo Little Monster, the piece was 11.2 cm tall and I'd reached 10cm when somehow the brim broke loose from the glass bed and the object was wobbling around and everything was ruined. That is very frustrating, isn't it?

That has nothing to do with the Ender 3 though but it's the kind of day I have had.

2019-07-26 Let me count the ways in which this little printer has failed since I last updated the page…

I have replaced the bowden tube from extruder feed to hot end, along with both bowden fittings. First, the tube got clogged with some "Black Koil" which always sticks to everything more than you want despite lowering temperatures, et al.

That was impossible to clean well so I cut that end off (it was on the hot end side.) Then I was unable to free the tube from the bowden fitting on the hot end side no matter how hard I tried. I realized it had been fused into the fitting, most likely because i printed so much PETG at 260C.

Since these were the original bowden fittings (everyone said they were crap) I had already obtained replacements but they lasted longer than expected.

Every time I looked at the latest problem (under extrusion) I would clean the hot end with a needle going about 100mm+ inward through the nozzle and by the time I did that, the clog point was sufficiently melted to let the needle through but still impeded flow to the point where the print was also garbage.

On face value you'd also be troubleshooting the extruder drive since it was having problems pushing through the clog but you should remember to remove the bowden tube and examine the filament path into the hot end anyway as a matter of maintenance from time to time.

I recently found gobs of dried, melted filament in chamber of the Tevo Little Monster recently, a result of printing PLA too hot, I believe.

As of today, the little Ender 3 marches bravely onward, printing more objects and doing it surprisingly well despite the maintenance issues. Yes, I feel they are really just a question of keeping up with the wear and tear on a light duty printer that I have been beating on for 5-months straight.

Using this printer, I have been on a "manufacturing run" of the same 5 or 6 objects for months now and the Ender 3 has more than kept up with my work flow.

I use my Tevo Little Monster a lot as well and have a second Ender 3 (new in box) that I keep thinking about putting to use as well.

Despite all the things that have broken, you end up really grokking the mechanicals and the embedded control software simply just works.

So far I have been lucky in that I had prepared spares for the items I have replaced, ordered additional spares for those items and have anticipated some kinds of failures based on experience so far.

For the price it (still) is an absolute bargain and performs at a considerable level if you keep it in order.

2019-10-03 I now have three of these printers but one is being refurbished so only two are operational.

I wanted to document some findings related to replacing the bed springs with stronger versions, and also about adjusting the Z-Axis limit switch.

Once you have replaced the standard springs with the stronger springs you need to adjust the Z-Axis limit switch to 35mm.

I believe the latest versions of the installation manual suggest setting that to 32mm initially but if you set it to 35mm then you will have plenty of adjustment left on your bed and you won't find yourself about to loosen a knob to the point it falls off, or having to tighten the knob so tight that you can barely move it.

2020-02-11 I no longer use the Tevo Little Monster, it died a long time ago and sits in my garage gathering dust. These three printers are all I use now.

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2020-03-12 This is the second mainboard I have lost. Today, on my newest Ender 3 it powered itself off shortly after beginning a new print. The printer would not power up again.

I disconnected the output cable from the power supply and verified the 24V power supply still worked.

I have two spare motherboards but their firmware is older than the one that died. When I disassemble the printer I will know the firmware version soon.

2020-03-12 I realized I never mentioned I purchased a third Ender 3. I forget when I did but that is the "newest" one that blew up the other day. So now I have three and I am trying not to go get a fourth and instead repair the third. How ironic and disconcerting that the newest died first.

2020-03-14 I have not yet disassembled the blown-up Ender 3. To be honest it is most tedious and annoying to open up the printer and label and disconnect everything from the mainboard. I will have to do it soon so I can order a new board. This mainboard was much newer than the other two units still in production and I don't want to downgrade it so I will order a new one. Perhaps two of them at that revision. We will see.

I have been having a bout of clogged ptfe tubes and have replaced a bunch of fittings, tubing, nozzles on the remaining two Ender 3 printers as I have been producing a lot of battery pack components (enough to handle 800+ LI-Ion batteries I am salvaging from modem battery packs.)

It seems the filament I am using needs to be a lower temperature than I have been running, I have reset the nozzle temperatures to 185C from 215C and it has stopped the ptfe clogging.

I may explain why later. Ok, the gist is it was melting the filament before it got to the nozzle and it ended up clogging the ptfe tube before the filament was extruded. I reduced the temperature to 185C and it has lessened the problem with this particular filament. The reason why I had been using such a high temperature with PLA was because several months ago I ran into the same problem only it was because it was not hot enough.

I also have now sworn to only use the Teflon variant of PTFE sometimes known as Capricorn SL, or "Tough Tube" as I am tired of seeing deformed PTFE tubing at 215C.

Like everyone else I am using plastic filament from China and I guess there are many things that seem to vary from batch to batch. I need this particular brand because I am trying to keep the grey color uniform. For my project I would like the colour to match. I would love to see better quality control filament made elsewhere that wasn't twice as expensive. Let me know when that happens, please.

2020-03-16 I have been working on one of the Ender 3 printers (Ender #1) for 5-days due to clogging issues using this grey filament I am using to build battery packs. It keeps clogging (melting BEFORE it hits the nozzle even at 185C) and blocks the filament. I have almost every remedy EXCEPT lowering below 185C.

As a further test, I replaced roll of grey PLA filament to a roll of blue PLA filament that isn't being used much and it printed flawlessly at 215C. There were no clogs. The grey filament I have been using has been varying in strange ways. I have separated the grey filament (that may have a very low melting point)

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These battery packs I am building…

2020-03-20 I am converting everything to Teflon PTFE as I am tired of seeing the PTFE tube deform around the bowden fittings. I am hoping the Teflon-based stuff will not deform at the temperatures I am using.

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This is the newest Ender 3 that simply blew up. I have replaced the standard PTFE tube with a piece of Capricorn PTFE tubing.

As I mentioned earlier I ran into a batch of filament that seems to keep melting and clogging the PTFE tube no matter what temperature.is set.

I need to manufacture a very large number of the same parts (see battery pack picture above) and the color needs to match so I am stuck with this brand filament for awhile even with the quality control issues.

I have had two rolls exhibit filament breaking at random points on this grey filament I have been using. The vendor ran out so I am waiting to order more of the same sub-standard filament because I need to match the colour. I have been through too many attempts to match "grey" you would not believe it.

I have been purchasing alll my filament on eBay or AliExpress because I can't afford to buy from domestic (US) manufacturers. The prices are much too high for me.

This is the failed mainboard.

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I ordered (2) new boards from Creality in China and purchased a used board on eBay. As you can imagine I will be installing the used board. The two from China along with the two new boards I already have should provide spares for the future if this happens again. I have spare boards for the other two Ender 3 but those are older firmware and I did not want to downgrade from 1.1.4

2020-03-30 I replaced the failed mainboard on Ender #3 a few days ago and everything powered up fine. I noticed the bed temperature kept rising on it's own right at power-up. It was not a phantom reading as the bed gets very hot! , When it reached 73C I turned off the printer. I repeated this a few times, checking everything including physical connections of the bed thermostat onto the mainboard and that all mechanically perfect.
The printer is behaving normally otherwise. I also replaced the main display board which supposedly has a mos-fet circuit for controlling the bed temperature and the behaviour was the same.

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I stock a lot of spare parts now for Ender 3 but I did not have an extra bed thermistor. I am ordering more now though.
I have not yet measured resistance on the thermistor maybe today. I am pretty confident it is broken.

2020-04-22 I finally got around to repairing Ender 3 #3 today. The damage was a bad mainboard and a bad thermistor in the heat bed. I made a few test prints today using this machine and it went well. I am very happy about this.

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The original firmware was 1.1.5 but the replacement board was for an Ender 3 Pro 1.1.5 there are a few improvements it seems… Just so you know upgrading your Ender 3 mainboard to an Ender 3 Pro works fine.

I noticed a mistake in how my Ender 3 was shipped. The power input was on the side of the PCB where the 24V output to the bed was meant to connect and the bed was connected where you'd normally have main 24V input from the power supply. I resolved that today I guess it didn't matter electrically but I like it to be normal.

2020-05-03 I achieved something with an Ender 3 today that I could never do before. Since I installed an Ender 3 Pro mainboard into Ender 3 #3 recently I have noticed quite a lot of changes in the software but was too lazy to research and things worked prety much the same so I did not care.
Earlier today I ran out of filament in the middle of a print. I thought I might try and replace the filament, loath to loas all that work already done.

I was able to hit pause the print, then manually preheat the nozzle (it cools when you pause now) unloaded the remnant, reloaded a new spool and re-fed the filament to the nozzle. This worked for the first time ever for me it resumed where it was flawlessly. Of course you must take care not to bump the extruder or disturb any axis.

I am really considering upgrading Ender 3 #1, Ender 3 #2 to use Ender Pro firmware.

2020-05-16

The prices for Creality printers have exploded mostly to supply chain problems leaving China so the ability to get things from there right now is beyond difficult. There are horrendous delays. Shipping prices have exploded, let's use AliExpress as an example. You purchase $US 30 of product and shipping is another $US 45. 30KG of products costs you $US 400 to ship. It is frightening.

I have so much money tied up in parts still sitting in China and I have paid quite a lot in shipping charges in the last 60-days. I have even had horrible problems with so-called Express from Alibaba suppliers. It has become impossible to purchase parts, ship them from China and then sell them at a normal price. Prices for everything related to Creality printers have also exploded.

There was a run on all my 42-34 and 42-40 stepper motors I sold all of them (about 10 of them each.) You'd think that is great but I have been trying to get genuine Creality stepper motors for almost 2-months.

This is a true story — I just bought a used Ender 3 for $US 149 and was happy to get it as I needed the parts. It was already a basket case and missing hardware (bolts, and the X-Tensioner assembly.)

This is another true story — Sweeping Amazon vendors who have not yet updated their pricing to reflect the fact that he Creality parts they were selling have now become almost pure unobtainium in the last 60-days and may be so for at least another 3-4 months. So purchasing all the parts that are being sold at previous "normal" prices that are stocked in Amazon warehouses before they all run out.

The other parts were invaluable to me. I could write a lot about what is going on right now in shipping products from China but that is enough for now.

I have to put in a plug for my new store.

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The reason I know a great deal about supply-chain problems from China is that have been buying a lot of inventory for my new store. Hardware for Hackers "No one expects a pandemic!"

2020-05-20 I am also opening a new store using Shopify, please visit Hardware for Hackers! we have a lot of great stuff for sale.

I discovered something today. about 43-34 stepper motors on the Ender 3 Pro. The Y-Axis motor has a longer shaft than the X-Axis motor. I also discovered that the Ender 3 Pro is shipping with press-fit timing gears that are impossible to remove without damaging the stepper motor. Ask me how I know that someday.

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What this means in plain words is that not all Creality Ender 3 Pro 42-34 Stepper Motors are the same. The shaft length of the Y-Axis stepper motor is approximately 23.47mm and the length of the X-Axis stepper motor shaft is approximately 17.87 mm. I need more research to see how to order the different variant now.

Here is the datasheet on the Meanwell LRS-350-24 power supply for Ender 3 Pro. See LRS-350-SPEC.pdf This power supply is the new "thin" supply. Meanwell_Power_Supply_LRS-350-24-01.png

Since I do a lot of testing of Ender 3 stepper motors, mainboards I had to set up a test bench environment that can be reused. The heart of this is the wiring harness. I use a complete Ender 3 wiring harness and simply screw the mainboard to be tested into the chassis base (I have an Ender 3 chassis with cover though I never use the cover.

Then I simply use a Meanwell LRS-350-24 24V power supply that I keep for Ender 3 testing, I keep the XT60 connector attached. I have a display so I have everything that I need to test stepper motors, mainboards.

To test XYZ stepper motor control I simply attach a stepper motor to the X, Y, Z or E cable from the mainboard one at a time power cycling each time to test each part of the circuit. For the extruder I actually do need to attach a hotend with thermistor and heater tube in order to test E.

I am testing and command the Ender 3 to move the stepper motor. I connect an XYZ limit switch to one of the cables and check to see if activating a limit switch works. I connect a used heat bed I keep to test the mainboard hotbed heating and temperature control.

All these components except the mainboatd are already tested so they are a known factor. If I am testing stepper motors obviously I use a mainboard that has already been tested. It's the same thing any one does except I don't have to do it on one of my production 3D-printers.

I realize not everyone has a wealth of spare parts lying about but I do because I am now sort of running a Creality spare parts depot plus more at Hardware for Hackers (shameless plug.)

Since I now sell a lot of mainboards for Ender 3 I must have confidence they work perfectly before they are shipped.

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Not everyone needs a test bench but I do right now. .In the image you see everything you will need just add a mainboard and some stepper motots. Speaking of testing mainboards, I have a large selection of new and used mainboards for Ender 3, Ender 3 Pro and Ender 5 with various versions of firmware. The used boards are fully-tested but I have not opened any of the new mainboards.