Ender 3 Pro: Initial Setup and Recommended Prints

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About: Jack-of-all trades, master of some. I would probably be much more modest if it wasn't for these delusions of granduer that I suffer from.

The Ender 3 Pro comes partially assembled. The base of the printer containing the print bed and the Y axis (back and forth) control as well as most of the wiring are already assembled before leaving the factory. To finish putting the printer together will require connecting the remaining parts to the base using less than 2 dozen bolts, and then plugging up a few wires to the various motors.

The instructions that come with the printer do not have words, just pictures. Fortunately several decades of assembling Lego kits served me well in figuring out what needed to be done.

Once you unpack everything you will need to attach the uprights to the base. Then you connect the gantry arm to the uprights. The gantry will control the X (left and right) and Z (up and down) axis movement. Once that is completed, you only have a few more bolts to tighten up and a couple of wires to plug in and your printer is ready to start printing.

Sorry that I did not take pictures of the assembly process, but the process is straight forward and the images in the instruction manual are easy to understand.

I will be linking to a bunch of different 3D print files that I found on Thingiverse. I do not have affiliation with any of these authors (except myself lol), I am simply providing access to the files I used to set up my printer. If you want to use different test prints feel free to look around, there are lots of options.

**edit** added the Z-axis crank 2/11/2019

Supplies:

Step 1: Bed Leveling

Once the printer is assembled the next vital step is to make sure the bed is level in relation to the print head.

There are 4 knobs, one on each corner of the bed, that will raise and lower that corner. Turning the knob to the left raises the bed towards the print nozzle, turning it to the right lowers the bed.

To properly space your bed away from your nozzle, you want them close enough together that when you have a single sheet of paper between the bed and nozzle there should be a slight amount of friction when you try to move the paper.

Too far away and you will not get proper layer adhesion.

Too close together and your nozzle will crash into your print and wreck it.

The bed level test I use is:

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2987803

It is a simple test that prints 3 passes around the perimeter of the bed and then it prints a filled circle at each of the corners as well as the center of the bed.

It is a quick test, taking only a few minutes to run.

the two files that I like to use are :

Ender3_Bed_Leveling.gcode

"Stick the GCODE on the SD card and have a sheet of paper ready. The GCODE will stop at each corner, pausing so you can adjust the leveling knobs. Push the button on the printer after testing each corner (the printer says something like "waiting for user") to go on to the next corner. After stopping at each corner twice, it will print several skirts around the bed (you can continue to adjust height as needed as the skirts print), then a disc in each corner and a disc in the middle to check adhesion."

Ender3_Level_Test_v2.gcode

"Just prints the test pattern without leveling so you can check if your bed has shifted"

Step 2: Youtube Videos Are Your Friend

There are literally thousands of videos available on youtube regarding 3D printing. I watched a lot of different videos to learn about the printer that I got and how to set it up to get the best results.

One of the better youtube channels that I found was Teaching Tech. Michael does a great job of clearly explaining each test and how making changes to the printer will affect your print results.

again .. no affiliation .. he just did a good job sharing his knowledge.

Step 3: *MICRO* All in One 3D Printer Test

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2975429

This test contains :

overhang test - These are the two arms curving up and over the print. The arms print at increasing angles of overhang from 10 to 80 degrees. If you look closely at the picture of the backside of the arm you will see that it is not until after 60 degrees that the print starts to get ripply (yep .. it's a technical term lol) so I know that if my angle is greater than a 60 degree overhang I will need to include supports in the print to make sure I get a good quality print

bridging test - These are the assorted length bridges (4mm-22mm) in the center of the print between the two overhang tests. This will make sure that your extrusion temperature is set correctly so that you are able to bridge sort distances without support without sagging or delamination of the layers.

stringing test -These are the pillars on the right hand side of the print Just behind the right overhang test. Stringing happens when there is too much pressure in extruder and melted plastic leaks out during movement in free space. There are 3 majors values, which you are going to adjust to remove stringing : retraction, temperature and travel speed.

sharp-corner test -These are the pyramids behind the stringing test. This tests the ability to make crisp clean corners and tapers.

tolerance test - This is the section behind the overhang test on the left side of the print. This tests the ability to make fine lines and grooves.

and scale test (diameter test) - These are the circles in the back center of the print. Tests the accuracy of the scale of the circles (outer and inner diameters of each circle are listed).

Step 4: Heat Tower

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2223651

This test the quality of the print at different temperatures. Every 5 mm the extrusion temperature is reduced by 5 degree Celsius, starting at 240 degrees and going down to 190 degrees.

PLA seems to be a very forgiving material and my tests at different temperatures were very similar, no perceptible change in bridging or detail quality between the different temperature layers.

The second photo on this step is an obvious fail using PETG filament that comes from the Heat tower post on Thingiverse. You can clearly see the print quality reduced dramatically at each step the farther away it gets from the 240 degree extrusion temperature.

Step 5: Basic Retraction Test

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2563909

This test is another gradual change test. This will test the nozzle retraction to prevent stringing. The test starts with a 0mm retraction and each 5mm it increases the nozzle retraction by 2mm. As you can see my test had a lot of stringing at the 0mm and 2mm levels, but once the setting was changed to 4mm retraction there was no more stringing occurring, so I was able to switch my retraction setting default from 8mm to 4mm.

Step 6: Speed Test

I'm not sure where this file came from originally, There is no individual post for it on Thingiverse. I found it bundled in Teaching Tech's post on Thingiverse "Ender 3 calibration files".

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3071464

In the Files tab it is labeled "Teaching_Tech_Speed_Test.stl"

This is another gradually increasing test print. This time you are increasing the speed that the print head moves to see if there is any degradation in the quality of layers.

The print starts at 50mm/s and increases in increments of 10 mm/s every 5 mm so the final print is 30mm high and the final 5mm is printed at 100mm/s.

This will let you assess if you are able to speed up the printer to get your prints completed quicker.

I had even layers all the way up so I can print at 100 mm/s, but I have my default set at 80 mm/s for now.

Step 7: Now That Your Printer Is Dialed In...

It is time to print a few accessories to make you printing experience better.

Step 8: Filament Guide

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2917932

This is a two part print, the actual filament guide and a mounting bracket that will fit right into the end of the aluminum top bar of the printer.

The purpose of this guide is to extend the filament out past the end of the printer body so that there is gradual curve to the filament instead of a sharp angle where it enters the filament feeder. This will help to avoid the filament getting kinked and possibly breaking.

Step 9: Slide on Z Screw Guide

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2929770

This is a protective sleeve that slides over the Z axis movement screw and keep the filament from brushing against the screw as it feeds into the printer. This avoids the filament getting trace amounts of lubricant on it from touching the screw.

I chose this particular guide because it slides over the screw and seats firmly in place. There is no need to remove any bolts to mount this guide into place.

Step 10: Z-Axis Crank

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3421795

There comes a time in every 3D printers life when they need to move the gantry out of the way. The X and Y axis move very easily once you disable the steppers in the menu, but the Z axis required rotating the threaded rod clockwise to elevate the gantry.

It is very inconvenient to rotate the rod by hand since it is directly behind the left upright support of the printer. The easy solution it to have a way to turn the rod from the top.

Step 11: Ender 3 Scraper Holder

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3393782

This is a simple scraper holder made by using parts from a few other posts so that it could be relocated to the place I wanted it.

This way your scraper is out of the way until you need it. When you need it, you know right where it is.

Step 12: Ender 3 Pro Wire Clips

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3378694

"These clips are for attaching the ribbon cable and the power supply wires to the Ender 3 frame. The intent is to attach the wires to the back of the clips which allows access to the wires."

The clip attach to the frame on one side and hold the wires in place on the other side.

one set of the clips is made to hold the ribbon cable at the front of the base, and the other set is made to hold the red and black power wires in the back of the base.

The printer will function perfectly fine without these cables being clipped to the frame, I just think they make everything look more tidy.

Step 13: Ender 3 Cable Chain

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2920060

This post has mounting brackets for both the bed wiring, and the gantry wiring.

Since the Ender 3 pro has the bed wiring in a mesh wiring sleeve I only put the chain around the gantry wiring.

I may end up printing more chain links at some point and put a cover around the bed wiring too, just for aesthetics, but for now I am happy with just the gantry wires contained in the chain.

Step 14: Do, This Will Not ...

Ender 3 Yoda Extruder Knob

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3141160

Your extruder knob lets you manually move the filament forward and backward between the feeder unit and the print head. And if you are going to have an extruder knob there anyways, why not spruce it up with the addition of Master Yoda.

Step 15: ...Much Better This Is

A few coats of paint and clear coat and Master Yoda is looking much more like himself :)

Step 16: Ender 3 Caliper Holder

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3318538

Much like the Scraper holder, This is not a absolute necessity, but it makes it nice to have your tool handy when you need it and stored securely out of the way when you don't.

I am surprised at how often I am using the caliper, not only to check the things I have printed are in the correct dimension, but also to design new prints when I can't find what I am looking for online.

Tripod Quick Release Plate - https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3392947

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    8 Discussions

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    Build_it_Bob

    3 months ago

    I have one on order, and after reading through and bookmarking this post...I think I am ready!
    Awesome post and great links for follow up.

    1 reply
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    LorddrakeBuild_it_Bob

    Reply 3 months ago

    Thanks :) .. I am by no means a guru on the subject, but if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me and if I can help you I will.

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    Penolopy Bulnick

    3 months ago

    This is great! Getting printers ready to go can be frustrating and it's nice to have directions like this available for people :)

    1 reply
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    LorddrakePenolopy Bulnick

    Reply 3 months ago

    Thanks, the Ender 3 Pro is super easy to use. Aside from leveling the bed, there were only minor tweaks I had to make to it to get it all dialed in. I can not recommend it enough.

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    jessyratfink

    3 months ago

    Thank you for sharing this! I'm sure it will be super helpful for many new 3D printer owners. They do really seem to skimp on the details :)

    1 reply
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    Lorddrakejessyratfink

    Reply 3 months ago

    Agreed. I think Lego, Ikea, and Creality are all in cahoots .. none of them like to put words in their instructions LOL