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Guide to 3D Printers

Best Creality Ender 3 Upgrades & Mods

Picture of Scott Gabdullin
Scott Gabdullin

Updated on June 17, 2024

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Creality’s Ender 3 Pro is a popular 3D printer among hobbyists, DIYers, and tinkerers. Thanks to its high level of precision and open-source firmware, it’s a versatile printer that can be used for a wide range of projects. Plus, the DIY assembly means it’s easy to replace and upgrade parts as needed.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the best Ender 3 Pro upgrades and mods you can install to get more out of your 3D printer.

Replace the Printing Bed

Creality Ender 3 V2 Glass Bed Upgrade
$79.99
Pros:
  • The composite coating of the glass bed has strong adhesion after heating, which can prevent the print's edges from curling. It also comes equipped with four clips to fix the hotbed
  • The prints can be removed manually without any tools thanks to the surface layer of the microporous composite coating
  • After multiple uses, you can simply wipe it with alcohol, acetone, or soap water to clean the glass surface
Cons:
  • Some users have reported that small prints and intricate shapes do not adhere well to the glass bed. You may need to experiment with different settings and temperatures, or even apply adhesive substances like glue stick or hairspray, or roughing the surface with sandpaper
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02/18/2024 09:15 pm GMT

The Creality Ender 3 Pro comes with a 220x250mm magnetic heated printing bed made from aluminum. Replacing this printing bed is a quick and easy way to upgrade your printer. All you have to do is remove the old bed and install the new one with an adhesive pad or multipurpose staples.

A new printing bed is relatively inexpensive, but it can be a significant improvement in terms of print quality. You can upgrade your Ender 3 Pro printer with a glass bed similar to the one you can find on the more expensive Creality Ender V2 model.

Glass is a better option when printing with high temperatures and can prevent wrapping. It also creates a smooth bottom layer, and you can find temperate glass beds with small dimples that enhance adhesion.

Swap Out the Bed Springs

Official Metal Leveling Nuts & Springs
$9.99
Pros:
  • It is made of high-quality metal for a strong and durable structure
  • The product is designed to resist deformation even after long-term use
  • It can handle a maximum temperature of 140℃, providing heat resistance suitable for 3D printing applications
Cons:
  • While not necessarily difficult, installing these components will require some time and technical know-how
  • While not usually expensive, these upgrades do represent an additional cost beyond the initial purchase of the printer
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02/18/2024 09:30 pm GMT

The role of the bed springs is to level the printing bed to create a straight surface. These springs also act as a suspension system that protects the printing bed in case you accidentally crash into it with the nozzle.

The Ender 3 Pro uses four 25mm springs that you can easily swap out. Newer springs can provide more stability and improve precision when printing.

Add an Auto-Bed Leveling Sensor

CR Touch Auto Bed Leveling Sensor Kit
$39.00
Pros:
  • The kit performs multi-point detection on the printing platform and records the height of each point, which contributes to its precision
  • The kit is designed for a long service life and can be reused more than 100,000 times
  • The kit is compatible with multiple models of Creality 3D printers and a variety of bed types (PEI, sticker, glass, metal bed)
  • Once installed and calibrated correctly, it can eliminate the need for manual bed leveling, making the 3D printing process much more enjoyable
Cons:
  • The instructions provided with the kit are not very comprehensive. Users may need to rely on external resources, such as YouTube videos, to set it up
  • After installing the hardware, a firmware update is needed. The firmware available from Creality may not work without mods, which can be a complex task for some users
  • Some users have reported that getting the printer to recognize the sensor and understand what to do with it can be challenging
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02/18/2024 09:40 pm GMT

An auto-bed leveling sensor is a small device that you typically attach to the printhead. It keeps track of the height of the build plate and sends this data to the printer’s firmware. The printer can then automatically adjust the nozzle position on the z-axis to maintain a consistent distance from the print bed.

It can be difficult to create a perfectly level printing surface with your print bed. For applications where precision matters, adding an auto-bed leveling feature can help the nozzle adjust to a slightly uneven surface. This feature is missing from the Ender 3 Pro, but Creality makes auto-bed leveling sensor kits that are easy to install.

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Extruder Upgrades

Sprite Direct Drive Extruder Pro Kit
$109.00 ($378.47 / kg)
Pros:
  • The kit is designed for high-temperature printing, making it suitable for a range of materials
  • The double-toothed structure helps avoid damaging the filaments and provides stable feeding. The gear ratio is designed to match perfectly with the motor, providing precise control of feeding and withdrawal
  • It can be applied to both direct and bowden filament feeding, catering to different printing needs. It's compatible with a variety of filaments including PLA, PETG, ABS, and TPU
  • The extruder has a dual fan design, which provides powerful heat dissipation. This results in more stable model formation, which is essential for high-quality 3D printing
Cons:
  • The upgrade may require you to compile your own firmware, particularly if you have any mods beyond the Sprite. This could pose an obstacle for users who are not comfortable with firmware modifications
  • Some users have reported that the kit is not as easy to install as advertised. It may require technical knowledge and additional help to get it installed and the proper firmware installed
  • A few customers found that the cooling was lacking, which could potentially affect print quality
  • You might need to make some adjustments to the hardware, such as installing shorter screws on the bracket, to prevent the hardware from bumping into the Z-axis. You may also lose a small amount of print area in the y-axis due to the extruder's design
  • he extruder might be a bit loud, which could be a nuisance for some users​
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02/18/2024 09:45 pm GMT

The extruder is a key component of your 3D printer. This small part pulls filament in through a cold end with the help of a gear before melting it and pushing it out. Once the melted filament exits the hot end, it travels to the heat break and nozzle.

The Ender 3 Pro comes with a functional extruder, but the plastic construction of this piece is a downside.

You can upgrade your extruder with a metal part that can withstand higher printing temperatures. You can also opt for a double pulley extruder. This feature pulls in filament more smoothly and prevents damage and slips.

If you’re in the market for a new metal extruder, Creality offers a Sprite extruder with dual feeding gears and adjustable tension.

Replace the Extruder Arm

All Metal Extruder
$19.99
Pros:
  • This is an official all-metal 3D printer extruder from Creality made with high-quality aluminum alloy material. It is designed to last longer than original plastic stock extruders
  • The kit has an adjustable bolt allowing you to adjust the pressure of the extruder gear as needed. The extruder drive has stronger pressure pushing the filament into the printer nozzle which improves the printer's performance. It is also compatible with a variety of filaments including PLA, ABS, Wood, TPU, and PTEG
  • The extruder kit is designed for easy installation. It comes with all necessary screws and parts needed for the installation
  • The kit is a significant upgrade over the original plastic parts that can crack over time. It is sturdy and well-made, which improves the overall performance of your printer
Cons:
  • Some users found that they had to rewire the stepper motor in the opposite direction after installing the new extruder. This might require some technical know-how or guidance from online resources like YouTube
  • One user mentioned that some Ender 3 models have a pressed-on gear on the stepper motor which can be hard to remove and replace with the new gear. The user suggested buying a new stepper motor to avoid this issue
  • While the extruder kit is generally easy to install, some users found the instructions to be unclear, particularly for newcomers to 3D printing. This could potentially cause confusion during the installation process
  • One user mentioned that the kit did not come with a bowden tube cutter, which may be required for the installation. Users might need to have their own tools or purchase them separately
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02/18/2024 10:09 pm GMT

The extruder arm is the part that connects the extruder to the nozzle. Upgrading your printer’s extruder arm with a longer model will increase the range of motion and allow you to work on larger projects.

Broken extruder arms seem to be a fairly common issue among Ender 3 Pro owners. If your printer is a few years old, you should think about installing a new extruder arm since it seems that this part goes through a lot of wear and tear.

Customize Your 3D Printer with a Spool Holder

Rotatable Filament Spool Holder
$20.98
Pros:
  • The filament spool holder is compatible with a wide range of 3D printers such as Ender 3, Ender 3 V2, Ender 3 Pro, CR10, Ender 5, Ender 5 Pro, Ender 3 Neo, Ender 3 V2 Neo
  • The holder has an independent rotating shaft design for low rotation resistance, which leads to good rolling stability, less barrel wear, and stable filament feeding
  • It's made of high strength ABS and PC material, which is durable and exquisite
  • The filament holder only needs to be fixed with screws, which perfectly matches with 3D base profile
  • The Rotate Spool bracket can be installed on the top profile or base profile of the 3D printer
  • The product adds a bearing to the roller for smoother operation
  • It can hold the weight of a full-size spool without issues
  • It can help solve issues with filament breaking during printing
Cons:
  • Some customers reported receiving the product with missing parts, such as bolts
  • The upgrade is considered a bit pricey by some customers
  • There were reports of the spool holder making the 3D printer wobbly due to the rubber foot being too tall or too short. Some users had to modify the foot to make it sit evenly or add shims to prevent it from swinging freely when the filament spool gets lighter
  • The filament spool may spin too easily, potentially tangling the filament. Some users had to add resistance to prevent this from happening
  • Some users suggested design improvements, such as having an expanding center hub
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02/18/2024 10:52 pm GMT

The purpose of the spool mount is to hold the filament spool. Once you have inserted your spool into the spool mount, you can feed one end of the filament into the extruder.

The Ender 3 Pro has a spool mount, but its location isn’t ideal. You’ll find the spool mount on top of the frame, which means the frame has to support as many as 2.2 lbs when using a large spool.

A quick and easy way to fix this design flaw is to upgrade your 3D printer with a side filament spool mount. You can purchase a filament holder or browse through open-source projects if you want to 3D print a new part.

Attaching your filament spool to the side or back of your printer will reduce the weight the frame has to bear, which can help with improving print quality.

Improve Print Quality With a New Hot End

Spider Speedy Ceramic Hotend Kit
$58.00
Pros:
  • The product uses a new cylindrical ceramic heating ring, which has high thermal conductivity and uniform heating. This allows for fast heat transfer, reaching 200℃ from room temperature in just 40 seconds, and supports up to 300℃ high-temperature printing
  • The hot melt section is increased by 30% and a heat-resistant insulating sheet is used to maintain the temperature of the melt section. This supports high-speed printing at 400mm/s. The use of a titanium alloy base reduces thermal conductivity by 30%, ensuring smooth feeding
  • This upgrade is compatible with a range of Creality 3D printers, making it versatile for various models including Ender-3 Pro, Ender-3, Ender-3 V2, Ender-5, Ender-5 Pro, Ender-5 Plus, Ender-3s, Ender-6, Ender-4, Ender-3 Max, Ender-2 Pro, Ender-2, CR-10S, CR-10, CR-10 S5, CR-10 S4, CR-10Mini, CR-20, CR-20 Pro, etc
  • The product comes with 24-hour quick tech support from Creality's dedicated technical team
  • According to user reviews, the hotend heats up and cools off v
Cons:
  • Some users have reported issues with the hotend, such as the Boden tube popping out even with the blue clip on, and the product causing issues with their printer's motherboard
  • A user reported that the product does not maintain heat well and often results in a heat error message, leading to print crashes
  • The wires coming from the unit are reportedly very small and fragile, which makes linking the wires from the printer to the heat unit difficult. Additionally, the wires from this heat unit are short, which could limit installation flexibility
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02/18/2024 10:56 pm GMT

The hot end is the part that pushes melted filament out of the extruder and into the printing nozzle. The default hot end that comes with the Ender 3 Pro is functional, but you can replace this part with an upgraded model that allows for toolless nozzle replacements.

Depending on how often you use your 3D printer and what kind of filament you typically work with, you should expect to replace your nozzle every three to six months. Filament particles can remain in your nozzle and cause issues like poor adhesion or a rough surface.

You can speed up the process of replacing your nozzle by opting for hot ends that support toolless replacements.

Upgrading your hot end is also an opportunity to install a metal part that can withstand higher printing temperatures. Opting for a metal hot end will also make this part last longer.

Make Your 3D Printer Safer With an Enclosure

Creality 3D Printer Enclosure
Pros:
  • Improves the overall printing experience, both for you and the machine itself
  • Easy to install, can be folded for efficient storage
  • Equipped with pockets to hold the necessary tools
  • You can easily access the printer by unzipping the front of the enclosure, which features a see-through screen for full-time monitoring
Cons:
  • Some users reported that it is not very durable, particularly if you’re planning to disassemble it and put it back together
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Adding a 3D printer enclosure to your setup has several purposes. It can make your 3D printer safer by creating a physical barrier around the heated bed, especially if you have young children who like watching the printing process.

An enclosure can also reduce your exposure to the small amounts of carcinogen substances produced when working with heated plastic materials. It will also reduce noise and keep debris and dust out of the print area.

Another advantage of upgrading your printer with an enclosure is that this closed environment will be easier to control. You will get more precise control over the printing temperature. An enclosure can also slow down the cooling process. Achieving this level of control over the temperature is crucial for working with materials like ABS or nylon.

Or if you decide the DIY route then building an enclosure yourself for your 3D printer can be a fun large-scale project. You can design a customized enclosure and 3D print the different components or use a more traditional method to build your enclosure.

Plexiglass is an excellent material to work with, but you can also create a durable enclosure with a steel frame and heat-resistant plastic panel. You will also need to drill a hole and add a fan to allow for proper airflow.

Add Memory With a New Mainboard

Motherboard Silent Mainboard V4.2.7 for Ender 3
$39.00
Pros:
  • The motherboard uses TMC2225 drivers, which drastically reduce the noise from the stepper motors
  • Many customers found it easy to install, with some noting that it worked instantly after installation
  • The board comes with pre-installed firmware configured for the Ender 3, making it plug and play
  • Thermal runaway protection: This feature is enabled, which can help prevent overheating issues
  • The board is optimized to effectively solve heating problems
  • Several users mentioned that it is a great upgrade for older models of Ender 3 Pro, making the printer more quiet and efficient
Cons:
  • Users mentioned that to modulate the fan better at regular operating speeds, there might be a need to tweak the firmware
  • Possible thermal paste and heat sink issues: Some users mentioned that heat sinks were mounted slightly crooked on their unit and could use a bit more thermal paste
  • Although the firmware is pre-installed, you might need to adjust the offset to ensure prints don't go off the bed
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02/18/2024 11:38 pm GMT

The mainboard is the most important component of your 3D printer. It processes prints, controls how the axes move, and much more.

Short of getting a new 3D printer, upgrading your mainboard is one of the best upgrades you can do if you want to unlock new possibilities.

Replacing your mainboard is an advanced update. You’ll have to open the electronics case, remove the old board, and attach the new one to the LCD display, corresponding axes motors and switches, power supply, fans, hotbed, and more.

We highly recommend taking a photograph of the wiring before removing the old mainboard.

The Ender 3 Pro comes with an 8-bit mainboard that you can replace with a newer 32-bit model from Creality. The 4.2.2 32-bit mainboard is faster and has more memories. It’s an advantage when sending a particularly large print to your 3D printer.

Creality also upgraded this mainboard by improving the stepper drivers. The new drivers allow for smoother movements on the different axes and reduce the noise.

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Add a Filament Guide

A filament guide helps keep the filament in place as it enters the extruder. It’s a small upgrade that is accessible to beginners, but it will make your 3D printer safer and can help ensure smooth movement as the extruder pulls the filament in.

You can purchase third-party filament guides that clip to the frame of your printer or look for open-source prints for a quick and easy DIY project.

Explore Cable Organization Solutions

Create a near workspace with a cable organization solution. Between the motor wire, extruder wire, and axis wires, keeping your cables organized can be challenging.

Your best option is to run a tube or chain in the back of your 3D printer. You can use a standard cable organizer or 3D print a clip or chain to tuck the different cables out of the way.

Get More Precision With a New Control Knob

Replacing the display control knob is a popular mod among Ender 3 Pro owners. You can find many open-source files to 3D print a new control knob that fits this specific model.

The control knob allows you to navigate through the display menu, but many users don’t like the feel of the default knob. Replacing it with a narrow knob seems to speed up navigation and give you more precision.

New Hot End Tubing

One of the best Ender 3 pro upgrades you can install along with new hot ends is new hot end tubing. The tubing that connects the hot end to the extruder needs to be flexible and smooth to prevent friction as the print head moves.

Upgraded tubing can also provide better insulation and make your 3D printer safer. Plus, it can reduce slippage and be less likely to clog.

Materials like PTFE are ideal if you’re looking for resistant tubing that will reduce friction while allowing you to work with a wide range of filament materials.

If you want to upgrade the performance of your Ender 3 Pro, look for a hot-end kit that comes with new tubing so you can replace this important component and get the benefits of smoother tubing with a single upgrade.

Upgrade Your 3D Printer’s Cooling Ability

Researchers have found that increasing the temperature of your printing bed can result in stronger prints with better impact resistance.

However, between working with a heated bed and melting filament at temperatures that can exceed 400°F, cooling and airflow are important considerations. You need precise control over cooling to prevent issues like wrapping.

Upgrading your 3D printer’s cooling features can also become necessary if you install a glass printing bed and metal hot end to work with higher temperatures since the built-in cooling system might not be sufficient.

The best way to cool your prints off faster is to install new fans. It’s a fairly easy upgrade, and you can purchase a third-party cooling fan or 3D-print a new part.

The hot end fan is one of the most essential elements of your printer’s cooling system. Replace this part with a fan that can move more air to upgrade your printer.

You can also replace the built-in PSU and motherboard fans. These components can heat up and go through more wear and tear when you work with filament materials that call for higher printing temperatures.

Plus, replacing your printer’s built-in fans is an opportunity to choose third-party parts with quiet features. One of the downsides of the Ender 3 Pro is that the fans can make a lot of noise.

Install Stepper Motor Dampers

Your 3D printer has stepper drivers that control a set of motors for each axis. The purpose of these motors is to make the X, Y, and Z axes move to adjust the position of the nozzle and lay melted filament in layers.

In spite of their brushless designs, the stepper motors used for the Ender 3 Pro can be noisy. If you often work on large projects or let your 3D printer run at night, installing motor dampers can make a difference.

Motor dampers also help absorb the vibrations the stepper motors create when they move. Absorbing these vibrations makes the axes movements smoother. It can result in more precise print results and can also reduce wear and tear on the frame and other parts.

Reduce Vibrations With a Z-Motor Spacer

The Ender 3 Pro is a great all-around printer, but 3D printing enthusiasts have noticed a small flaw that affects the Z-axis.

Because of its position, the Z-motor tends to create unnecessary vibrations. You can address this issue by adding a small spacer to prevent the motor from touching the frame. This upgrade helps absorb vibrations and prevent the motor from transmitting these vibrations to the frame.

You can create a DIY spacer with some paper or cardboard, but it’s also a part that you can 3D print for a more durable result.

Replace the Belt Tensioner

Your 3D printer’s timing belts help control the movements of the X and Y axes. These flat straps need to have the right amount of tension to do their job properly.

A loose belt can result in an axis that shifts during printing. You’ll end up with prints that have misaligned layers or parts that have inconsistent dimensions and shapes.

A belt that is too tight might make it difficult for the axis to move. Overtightening your timing belts will also cause more wear and tear on these parts, and you’ll have to replace them sooner.

Installing a new belt tensioner on your Ender 3 Pro is a simple upgrade that can improve print quality. A new belt tensioner will have more control over the tension in the belts and allow you to adjust the belt tension with more precision.

All you have to do is use a tool to loosen the tension as much as possible. Once you have loosened the belt tensioner completely, you should be able to pull this part from the frame and install a new one.

Experiment With OctoPrint

OctoPrint is an open-source application that allows you to control your 3D printer with a web-based interface. It’s a helpful tool for scheduling your prints or managing your printer remotely.

This application also gives you access to a wide range of plugins you can use to import files, film the printing process, and more.

The easiest way to install OctoPrint is to download OctoPi and install it on a Raspberry Pi device. OctoPi is an SD card image with everything you need to roll out OctoPrint.

Here are the steps to follow:

  • Start by downloading the OctoPi file and saving it to an SD card.
  • Insert this SD card into your Raspberry Pi and link the device to your computer via USB.
  • Use Raspberry Pi Imager to launch the SD card image.
  • Raspberry Pi Imager will prompt you to set up your Wi-Fi network.
  • Once you complete this step, your Raspberry Pi will download and install OctoPath.
  • You can then connect your Raspberry Pi to your Ender 3 Pro with a USB cable.
  • Visit http://octopi.local on a computer connected to the same network as your Raspberry Pi. Follow the prompts to configure OctoPath.

Improve Visibility With an LED Strip

Adding an LED strip is one of the best aesthetic Ender 3 Pro upgrades you can do. Your best option is to attach the LED strip to the top crossbar to illuminate the printing area.

Besides looking aesthetic, an LED strip can enhance visibility over the printing area and help you notice flaws and issues faster. Adding some light can, for instance, help you notice slight alignment issues between layers.

You can opt for an adhesive LED strip, but it’s best to use clips to secure the LED strip to the frame to prevent it from falling into the printing area. You can use multipurpose clips or even 3D print your own.

Conclusion

Between official parts sold by Creality, third-party manufacturers offering standard parts, and open-source 3D printing projects, there are a lot of options to explore for upgrading your Ender 3 Pro.

We recommend starting with a simple project like adding a clip-in filament guide or a side-mounted filament spool before exploring advanced mods like replacing your print bed or getting a new mainboard.

Remember that this list of upgrades isn’t exhaustive! Thanks to the DIY assembly of the Ender 3 Pro, there are a lot of other options to explore.

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