Ender 3 Pro 3D Printer

The Ender 3 Pro has great prints considering it’s low price point!

Well I decided to get a new 3D Printer. After some looking and comparing I decided on the Ender 3 Pro. The price point was very good, I picked mine up from the Creality store for $214.99.

Creality Ender 3 Pro
Creality Ender 3 Pro

It was relatively easy to assemble. I took a lot longer than most say it takes to assemble. I did take my time as I have found you save yourself a lot of time and trouble not hurrying in assembly. I tried to make sure that I assembled it straight and true. Even then I found that the gantry (X axis) was sagging on one side. So after about an hour and a half I took a break. The next day I sat down and pulled the X axis apart and straightened it out, no more sag. A minor complaint here is there are no alignment pins to make sure it goes together straight and true. You line up the top of the extrusion with the top of the plates the rollers and extruders are on. BUT, if you watch it you can get it straight. I still need to go through and check the tightness of the bed rollers, there is some play that might be able to be removed.

Another thing I ran into was the filament would not feed into the Bowden tube. I followed the trouble shooting guides and solved this pretty easily. Loosen the Bowden couplers then feed in some filament. tighten the coupler in place. Do this at the hotend also. This solved the problem. After this I checked all of the factory assembled screws to make sure they were all snug.

I will not go through the whole assembly as there are numerous videos and papers on do this right. You should be able to assemble this printer, in less than 2 hours, even if you have never assembled one before. The others I have put together were a different style from Printrbot.

While buying this Printer I was not too happy it needed manual bed leveling. I am not accustomed to having to level the bed before printing. Both my prior printers (printrbots) were self leveling. They had their own challenges, like learning to set Z height in EEPROM, to get it to print. I thought bed leveling by hand would be a big pain in the rear. BUT so far it isn’t hard at all. I now can set it with a piece of paper first time, every time. But then there is my wife. She cannot set it at all. So I will probably end up with a BLTouch, or possibly an induction probe for her.

I will have to say it is easier than it looks if you follow the directions. Plus one of the videos I watched on it had a little G-code file that makes it even easier. The g-code file moves the hotend to the extent of the bed and stops waiting for your to click the LCD panel knob for the next point. Once you get the right feel for the correct resistance on a piece of paper you are right at the right height to start printing.

Once I had everything straight and the bed level I went for my first print. I went for the Cat to print from TF Card. I was surprised that it went very well. It stuck to the bed and came out very nice, lots of detail. It printed on a raft for some reason. It was very smooth and there were no anomalies in the layers. There was just a bit of blob and string at the tip of each ear.

I bought the Pro version because it had an upgraded Y axis and a upgraded Power Supply. It also had the removable build plate which I am not sure is really worth the trouble. Also the Pro version has made some small changes that covered problems with the earlier models.

Ender 3 Pro left side.

A few things that surprised me: It uses an 8 bit controller. The extruder was plastic. How Quiet this printer is! Cable management is kind of messy. Considering there are so many 32 bit boards out there and they are inexpensive I was surprised that they were not using one. And the upgrade board (1.1.5) is 8 bit also, just has quieter stepper drivers. The plastic extruder works fine but a metal one is just not much more expensive. Another surprise is that the printer is 24V. The heated bed and the Hotend heat very quickly compared to the 12V models I have.

So for $22.79 from Amazon I upgraded the Extruder to metal, To a Capricorn XS Bowden tube and it had the recommended upgrade bed springs. There is enough Bowden tube for two installs and better couplers for the tube also. This upgrade took about 20 minutes to install on the printer. I thought the kit was from Creality but it was from Comgrow which sells branded Ender printers. It was well worth the price and time to install. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B081DN6RM2/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Comgrow upgrade kit.
The best first upgrade especially if you plan on using flexible filaments.

There are tons of upgrades available for the Ender 3 series. Extruders, Direct Drive extruders, Hotends, Control boards, fans, build plates, Auto leveling probes,,,,,. But best of all the community has came up with dozens of printable improvements for these printers. Make sure you check which versions you print as there were many small changes between the Ender 3 and Ender 3 Pro.

Overall I am impressed by the prints I am getting from this printer. I will say it is slow compared to my other printers. I think with some tuning and tinkering I can get the print speed up quite a bit. I do plan to move to Auto Bed Leveling in the near future. And I also plan, as part of that upgrade, to move to a SKR Mini E3 V1.2 32 bit controller. I am also thinking of transitioning to a glass bed. A BL Touch or other auto Bed Leveling probe is in my future.

After several prints and cleaning the bed with Isopropyl Alcohol I started having adhesion problems with the removable bed plate. I tried some temperature settings and some bed leveling changes but still had troubles. At this time I resorted to Hairspray. Save yourself this trouble, use hairspray from the start.

I am happy with the printer. It has a great price and prints well. If you want to try out 3D Printing you could choose a worse printer to start with, but this is not one of them! I really do not think you will find a better printer for the price out there!

Future upgrades:

  • SKR Mini E3
  • BL Touch or other ABL probe
  • Printed Improvements

Added some printed upgrades to the Ender 3 Pro;

The first was an extruder knob; https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3176144

Just printed and installed this parts fan duct; https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3767143

In between I added this filament guide that uses the old Bowden tube and coupler; https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3303562

Just added this X tensioner from Amazon. It is a bit of a pain to assemble properly. There are no included directions. Almost every piece can be assembled wrong. If it is not right the belt will not be centered in the extrusion. The smaller toothed pulley means the inner mount tensioner t-nut is right at the very end of the X extrusion. The bolt that is part of the tensioner is a Cap screw. This causes them to use a smaller toothed pulley making the belt essentially longer, a larger pulley would probably solve most of this. If they had used a button, pan or a counter sunk, they could have used a larger pulley. Or they should have made the mount longer. Assembly directions would have been appreciated. Marks on the pieces to help in assembly would have helped also. Online directions would not take that much to include. Overall it does work but could have been better designed to give more adjustment and an easier install. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07X8GSGR7/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Another addition is an adapter from Micro SD to full size SD card. I bought the adapter on Amazon and printed the mount for it from thingiverse. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07YHN83NJ/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3537808

Dell XPS 8920 tower

I just purchased a new computer last week. My old system, a Dell XPS 8300, was getting long in the tooth being 6 years old!

Dell XPS 8920

The New one is a Dell XPS 8920 tower
It does not look very impressive from the front, but you know what they say, never judge a book by it’s cover! This is a very small tower case. 7.1″ X 14″ X 15.3. But performancewise it has a lot going for it.
I bought mine from the Dell Outlet, as usual! It was listed as “scratch and dent”, but I have yet to find a scratch on it. I was searching for a system that would have most of the newest features and technologies. And was cheaper than “new”. I did pretty well.
My machine;
Windows 10 home Edition
i7-7700
256GB SSD with the OS installed
1TB SATA 3 HDD (western Digital Blue drive)
16GB 2400MHz memory
8X DVD-RW
AMD RX580 8GB Video card
WIFI/Bluetooth M.2 card
The SSD is a NVME M.2 256GB Toshiba drive (THNSN5256GPUK). This drive has Windows 10 installed on it. This makes for a very fast entry into windows from a cold boot. It is faster than most Tablets getting into windows. more later
Another available option is the Intel “Optane”. Optane acts a drive cache to the primary HDD drive. These can be installed into a m.2 card slot on the motherboard. This slot allows faster transfer rates than the SATA3 controller can reach. It is supposedly a PCIE x4 transfer rate.
The 1TB is a standard Western Digital “Blue” drive connected by SATA 3. This tower can have 3 3.5 drives installed.
Considering I was comparing 6 year old technology, to this new machine, I of course was impressed. It sailed through the setup crap. The first startup did take a bit but not the hour it took the old machine to get through setup of the OS. The first start into windows after setup flew. I measured it’s second startup at a counted 27 seconds. Very fast compared to the minutes I was used to on the old system. Getting into a game is a bit quicker as this is SATA 3 versus SATA2. I could move the game to play from the SSD, Drive C:\, then it would move right along. With only 256GB I am keeping most of my 500GB of games on the HDD. I used windows Storage management to move Photos, Music, Documents, Maps and Movies to the HDD. Apps still install to drive C:.

Back

The system has plenty of USB ports! On the back; 2 X 2.0 (for keyboard and mouse), 1 X 3.1, 3 X 3.0. On the front; there are 4 X 3.0 ports.

Power supply swings out for motherboard, Video card and CPU access.

I am not going to go into deep detail of the technologies used in this box. I will hit them lightly. The NVME M.2 connector is right on the motherboard. The SSD is (edit) 22mm X 80mm. It installs like laptop RAM. You put it into the connector at an angle to the Motherboard, then push it down flat. There is one screw to keep it in place. There are several screw holes for different lengths of m.2 devices. This motherboard uses the “M” connector standard. There are sizes available from 128GB to 1TB. The standard is WW-LL-HH-K or K/K. So the THNSN5256GPUK Toshiba unit is Single Sided 22mm-80mm-S3(single sided)-M (connector). So it is 2280S3M. Unfortunately they never seem to show this at retailers, which would make it a lot easier to find a replacement or upgrade!
The other device for this connector from Dell is the Intel Optane accelerator. Usually Dell uses the 16GB model. It is a high performance SSD type drive that is used as a “Cache” to the primary Hard Disk Drive. It only caches the primary disk. If there are other drives installed they do not benefit from Optane. To use Optane you have to have Windows 10, A motherboard that can accept it (M.2 slot), Bios that recognizes it! You also need an Intel Storage Driver that supports Optane. So you cannot retrofit it to an older system. My brother has the 16GB Optane module and is very happy with it so far. It takes a bit of use to get the cache populated and operating at it’s best. I beat him into windows he beats me, usually, moving from map to map in the games! Dell does not offer the 32GB Optane module in it’s systems! I costs about $75 for the 32GB module online. The 16GB module is about $48.
NOTE: You can only have 1 of these options in any system. Either a m.2 SSD or an Optane cache! They cannot work together!
Either of these helps performance. You have to decide which is best for you. Setup for either is very technical. But if you can install more memory (bios changes, new drivers, driver settings, windows settings) you can probably follow the directions to install either one. Installation of both is well documented.
If having last years technology is not good enough, the XPS 8930 has even newer specs. Like 8th gen Intel processors, a newer Z370 chipset, Faster memory and more USB 3.1 ports. The case is essentially the same, as is the power supply. But remember I was almost two years off the mark on the last system and it was still playing the newest games.
That is the one component that was getting tired after 6 years, The HDD! It started corrupting files when I was copying files to the new computer. This process has the HDD’s running continuously for hours on end. I transferred about 500GB of files and that pushed it over the edge. But for that, it would still be running probably for another couple of years. (pssst, oh yeah! it is still running!) The only other component that failed was the power switch about a year ago. I had to search to find a replacement. Ended up having to repair the one I got off Ebay to make it work! (psssst, revived) It has been updated with a newer 2GB 7770 video card and the HDD was upgraded to a SATA 3 from a SATA 2 drive, replacing the tired drive with a totally clean load of Win 10!
The old system had an i7-2600, 8GB of DDR3 memory a 1.5 TB Seagate SATA2 HDD, a DVD player, a DVD-RW writer, WIFI/Bluetooth adapter (M.2) and 1GB Radeon 6770 Video card. I upgraded it with PCI card for 2 X USB 3.0 ports. I then put a 32GB USB 3.0 PNY stick in one for Readyboost. It came with Windows 7, upgraded to Windows 10 with no problems at all! It was a relatively high end system for it’s day. And the new one is of the same caliber!
The things I DON’T like about it!
Power supply would not be easy to upgrade.
The Laptop style 8X DVD-RW unit.
Extra 2 HDD bays face the side cover. You need a 90 degree cable ends, at both ends, as the other end is encroached by the Video card. The bays need to be deeper and the motherboard SATA’s need relocation away from the video card slot!
Most of these are the price you pay for such a small full featured computer case!