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Hey everyone! So every couple of months you see me show off a new Creality 3D printer, and that can get a little confusing. Now obviously different printers suit people with different needs, but to keep it simple my current recommendation is if you have a bit of extra money, the CR-6 SE is the best 3D printer for first-time buyers. It comes almost ready to go- just a few screws to turn. But, if you like to tinker, are a student or just don't want to spend too much money on a hobby you aren't sure of, the Open Source Ender-3 is usually about $200 and is fantastic value which is why it's the best selling 3D printer in the world. I'm personally very proud of the Ender-3 because I did the Open Source Hardware Association Certification for it, that means anyone can make this printer, anywhere in the world. There's nothing proprietary here. For consumers, this means they will always be able to get cheap parts from lots of vendors because manufacturers don't have to license anything and there are so many Ender-3s out there.
One of the other wonderful things about the Ender-3 is it's incredibly upgradable. It prints great out of the box, but there's a huge community that likes to mod and make improvements to them. Many of these upgrades can actually be 3D printed on the Ender-3 itself for no cost other than the plastic. Most of rest range from a few cents, to about $35 dollars. None of these mods are actually needed, you can always run the Ender-3 stock but mods can improve print quality, speed, and convenience a bit. Before you start modding your printer though, it's important to remember you should always run any 3D printer stock for the first 100
print hours before you mod it. If you have to do any troubleshooting, it's hard to know if the problem is the original printer or the mods that were added.
If someone tells you to upgrade your new 3D printer when you first get it, or as you assemble it make sure they are willing to sit and troubleshoot it with you. Because if you need support, the people helping you need to know the mods aren't the problem, So again, the first time you buy any new 3D
printer, always run stock first and mod after 100 hours. Everyone has different upgrades and mods they like. While I usually run my Creality printers stock and unmodified, these past few weeks I have been trying out some of the communities favorite mods for Ender 3s and today I'm going to show you the upgrades that I think either offer the best value, or are just plain nice to have.
The first upgrade we're going to look at is also the easiest to install. Filament path- if your filament feed isn't smooth, if it jerks and jumps as the extruder pulls on the reel, that can show up as very fine imperfections in your prints. But fortunately it's easy-peasy to print out something to deal with that. See? Like butter! The next upgrade is one of the toughest to install, it's a new control board. But it also makes a pretty big difference. This is the SKR Mini E3. This board is actually made by my good friends over at Big Tree Tech- so I can vouch for them. I don't even need to- just Google this board, everyone in the community loves it.
Great documentation, great quality control but, you pay for it, at $30 which is a bit of an investment on top of a $200 printer. That's why the Ender-3 doesn't come with them. But if you love your Ender-3, want a bit more out of it- no need to buy a more expensive printer. Just pop one of these bad boys in. Here, let me show you how.
Alright, I've changed the Ender-3 display to
Big Tree Tech display. This is very colorful and it's a touchscreen. Let's go inside and take a look. So now the TFT SD card goes to the side instead of the front. It's much easier, because it uses SD card instead of the micro SD card. Let's go to menu, Movement. Okay, I set it to 10mm, let's move that. It's very quiet even though I am running my other 3D printer in the background. And because it is touchscreen, you don't need to turn the knob or anything.
Now let's take a look at the leveling. So it has four points. That's why I don't need to add any BLtouch
or anything like that because this four points, if you press point, it just goes right to the knob position. This one is pretty good. Let's go to point 2. Okay, I'd like to print something but first I am going to change the belt tensioner here do a little bit adjustment before I print anything. One common issue with Ender-3's is wear right over here on the extruder. See how the filament kind of slowly cuts a
notch there. It takes hundreds of hours- but it happens.
This can be fixed cheaply by just printing a new plastic extruder once a year or so, putting in a bit of PTFE tubing as a bushing, or you can buy a metal one for about 10 to 25 dollars depending on if you upgrade the bowden tubing at the same time. I used to just swap them out with this metal one if they got too worn but to be honest you have to be printing all day every day for a long time for it to become a real problem. So often there's no need If you watch my friend Chuck's videos- and
I'm going to link to his channel below, you'll know it's possible to print soft filament with a stock Ender-3. Is it fantastic? No, but if you go slow enough it's more than good enough for most projects that require it. But if you want to print soft filament better
than good enough, or print it often you're going to want to upgrade.
Some of you might be thinking- "Oh! Direct drive extruder!" but that's not something I like to do with an Ender-3, yes they are available and yes there are people that like them. But the Ender-3 is designed to be as low cost as possible, there's no surplus. Just enough for great print quality as is. If you look on the back, the Z axis here, it's only supported on one side, there's only one screw driving it. Now this is fine with a bowden head because it's so light, but you put a heavy stepper motor on there, you have to worry about sag, and so tighten things up a bit, which gives you more wear on the rollers.
And no matter what you're printing, you are throwing all this mass back and forth which means you have to slow printing speeds for everything, not just flexible filament or you'll get artifacts. And yes, I know people who have direct drive on their Ender-3's all dialed in and love it, it's just not something I like. Either in theory from the mechanics, or in practice dealing with the other trade-offs. But, again that's just me. If you like them, more power to you. So what I'm going to do, is go with Chuck's recommendation and use the EZRstruder from SeeMeCNC. This is designed for the PTFE tube to come all the way in and it's actually designed to go between the gear, and the idler wheel. So, the NinjaFlex, can't escape in any way, shape or form. And the best part is, you can mount this on just about any extruder top. Including the Ender-3, CR-10 Mini, and CR-10.
I've tried a few other options and Chuck is right, it works great. SeeMeCNC is an American 3D printer company- just the nicest people. And I don't get my hands on stuff that's
made in America very often so this is a real treat. SeeMeCNC sent me a few of these to review- and that's a much bigger deal than it sounds like. Obviously any Western company is going to be reluctant to send their product to city famous for cloning things. So I'm always super careful in these situations and their trust is really flattering- great people. So let me show you how this goes on. One of the best things you can do to improve print quality is upgrade your filament, I mostly use eSUN. The best settings for their filament are built
right into the Cura slicing software, so it's easy to use. As you can see here I have eSUN filament selected, and profiles from my friend Chuck, his channel is linked in the description box below. I recently worked with my sponsor Creality
3D and my friends at eSUN to donate 3D printers and a whole lot of filament into the hands of Makers around the world printing PPE for front line healthcare workers.
My name is Shami Oshun and I am currently making RC3 head shields. Thanks to Naomi and eSUN filament for sending me a ton. I really appreciate it. And I am currently printing them every day
on my Ender-3 printers. So yeah. Boom Huge thanks to Shami Oshun, Scott Levine and Operation Shields Up for all their efforts! And thanks to Creality 3D and eSUN for their generous donations. Bed surfaces! Talking print bed surfaces is like talking politics or religion- it's a very contentious subject. What's important to remember is that the performance of any bed material depends on room temperature, humidity, filament brand- and a lot of other factors. What works great for you up North with your favorite brand of PLA may not work at all for your friend down South with his brand of PLA. There is no "best" there's just appropriate for your needs and conditions. Like they say- be like water, use what works. Normally I prefer soft magnetic sheets.
They're cheap locally so if I damage them, they're easy to replace. I don't like the various glass surfaces much because I'm usually not patient enough to let the print cool and pop off on it's own, and if you have big strong dude hands it may seem easy to scrape prints off but it's still a pretty easy way to cut yourself if you're clumsy like me. It also adds weight to the bed which is going to result in more artifacts at higher speeds than if you use something lighter. Still, glass is very popular with a lot of very knowledgable people so it's certainly not a bad option. What I've been using lately is this Creality PEI build plate.
I used PEI years ago, but stuff kind of stuck
to it a little too well. Then Josef Prusa started using it with a flexible steel plate and that seems to be the right way. Creality now has it's own version, and that's what I've been using. It's pretty easy to make the switch. If you already have a flexible magnetic surface you just use the PEI sheet instead, otherwise it comes with a new magnetic surface you can adhere. This is 27 dollars I think? Tough call, I'd say it's a convenience not a necessity. In theory filament can drop in this fan vent, so people like to put a cover on it.
Never happened to me, but hey it's basically 1 cent worth of plastic so why not. Okay, this is my regular PLA benchy. I am going to be honest with you. There is no significant differences before or after if you are looking for better print quality after all these upgrades. But I don't regret it at all because it is a lot faster and easier to use the interface. But if you want better print quality with
PLA. In my opinion, this isn't going to give it to you but it is more user friendly and much more easy to use. On the other hand, let me show you the TPU result. Look at this octopus, there is no stringing and look at its tentacles, they are so soft. There's a dramatic result compare to the PLA.
With the upgrade of the SeemeCNC extruder, I am really happy about it. The result comes out great. Look at this wallet, I often give away this wallet to other people as a present. It comes out great. If you print a lot of TPU, it really has a phenomenal result but with the PLA, there's still not a lot of quality difference. But overall I am really happy about the upgrades. I am happy about the SeeMeCNC extruder and all the other upgrades. It is just so much more user friendly and
the usability is much better.
What about bed leveling? Nope. I don't use it. I level manually, at most once a month. For a small bed it really isn't needed usually. If you want automatic bed leveling get a CR-6 SE, it's the best bed leveling I've seen. What about laser engravers? Those lasers really aren't safe, there's no venting for fumes, if they bounce you'll get retinal scarring. So, sorry no automatic bed leveling, no laser diodes for me but there are loads of videos out there on how to install them if that's what you want. I don't feel right showing things that I don't believe in myself just because Creality is my sponsor and sells them. I know the comment section on this video is going to be crazy with all the mods people think I should've put on, but didn't, so let me have it- what's your favorite Ender-3 mod or upgrade and why? That's it for today, until next time- if I can do it, anyone can do it!