A quick review of the Ender 3 Pro 3D printer

Thread Starter

Wendy

Joined Mar 24, 2008
22,842
A quick review of the Ender 3 Pro 3D printer. Do not buy this printer from Amazon. I had received two of them from them and both died the same way. They sell an older revision that does not have the magnetic base, Both died in the exact same way. Because I have trouble carrying a micro SD not to mention it's easy to lose. I bought a tiny computer to use as a controller using pronto print software and my LAN. I also connected a webcam on it to monitor my print. I got this idea from MakerSpace in Dallas. At first plastic did not want to stick to my bed, I used a cheap can of hairspray to help with this. It was not perfect but it did help a lot. After a while it seemed to break in and started sticking too well. This is where the magnetic bed comes in handy as you can just remove it and peeled apart off of it that way . Overall other than the Amazon printers, I would give this device very high marks. The one I finally Settled on from micro center , and I bought the extended warranty.

I will be publishing completed projects, some about this printer.
 
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MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
26,133
I have had this printer now for over two years (from January 2020 just before pandemic lock down began). It was a welcomed acquisition because it kept me very occupied during lock down. This was my first plunge into the world of 3D printing. Hence I was starting out fresh. For this reason I opted to purchase it from a local dealer whom I know would be willing to back up their product.

The only mistake I made (for not reading or watching the installation instructions and video properly) was to fail to set the Z-axis home microswitch correctly. I ended up scoring the bed while doing my first test print. Now every piece I make has this clover leaf pattern on the bottom surface.

I don't know what is the magnetic base. Mine came with a glass plate.

I would say that bed adhesion is the #1 problem. There are numerous variables that will affect the outcome.
  1. type of filament
  2. bed temperature
  3. nozzle temperature
  4. size of footprint
  5. surface area of footprint in contact with the bed
  6. object aspect ratio: Length x Width x Height
  7. adhesion option (printing a brim)
  8. bed leveling
  9. cleanliness of the bed
  10. additional adhesive

It is better to have a strong adhesion rather than a weak one. If you allow the print to cool down you may find it comes off the bed easily.

Achieving proper adhesion is something you have to learn from trial and error. In most cases, if you have a large surface area in contact with the bed you should not need to take any extra measures. You will have trouble printing a tall vertical skinny object with little footprint. What will happen is the object will topple over and the printer will be extruding a web of filament in midair.

The simple efforts you need to take are:
  1. clean the bed with isopropyl alcohol
  2. set the bed level carefully so that you squish the first layer tightly

Some folks recommend using stick glue. I have not had much success with this. I have tried Kapton film with limited success. When it is imperative that you get good adhesion, 3M double sided tape works every time for me. You will have great difficulty removing the object but that is definitely better than having a failed print job.
 

djsfantasi

Joined Apr 11, 2010
8,330
@Wendy
Thanks for this review. I have this printer in a box that I purchased from Amazon. I haven’t got around to assemble it because I’m deeply involved in another project.

Your idea of using hairspray will definitely be tried. I have a supply which I use for model railroading scenery.

Since I haven’t assembled it yet, could you comment on that process
 

Thread Starter

Wendy

Joined Mar 24, 2008
22,842
I did not assemble mine, damn near impossible to do with one hand. I would definitely open yours up and see if it has the magnetic bed, if it doesn't return it to Amazon because it is an older revision (I would question that it is even a ender 3 pro since that is a stock option). My current project is to make various sensors to tell when there is something wrong with the filament feed. For the moment I am stuck on how to detect when the printer is out of filament. When that is done I will definitely post the completed project here. The tangled filament was easy. I have already burned through four spools of filament with the first two printers and the third one which is still working great.
 

MrSalts

Joined Apr 2, 2020
1,762
I have had this printer now for over two years (from January 2020 just before pandemic lock down began). It was a welcomed acquisition because it kept me very occupied during lock down. This was my first plunge into the world of 3D printing. Hence I was starting out fresh. For this reason I opted to purchase it from a local dealer whom I know would be willing to back up their product.

The only mistake I made (for not reading or watching the installation instructions and video properly) was to fail to set the Z-axis home microswitch correctly. I ended up scoring the bed while doing my first test print. Now every piece I make has this clover leaf pattern on the bottom surface.

I don't know what is the magnetic base. Mine came with a glass plate.

I would say that bed adhesion is the #1 problem. There are numerous variables that will affect the outcome.
  1. type of filament
  2. bed temperature
  3. nozzle temperature
  4. size of footprint
  5. surface area of footprint in contact with the bed
  6. object aspect ratio: Length x Width x Height
  7. adhesion option (printing a brim)
  8. bed leveling
  9. cleanliness of the bed
  10. additional adhesive

It is better to have a strong adhesion rather than a weak one. If you allow the print to cool down you may find it comes off the bed easily.

Achieving proper adhesion is something you have to learn from trial and error. In most cases, if you have a large surface area in contact with the bed you should not need to take any extra measures. You will have trouble printing a tall vertical skinny object with little footprint. What will happen is the object will topple over and the printer will be extruding a web of filament in midair.

The simple efforts you need to take are:
  1. clean the bed with isopropyl alcohol
  2. set the bed level carefully so that you squish the first layer tightly

Some folks recommend using stick glue. I have not had much success with this. I have tried Kapton film with limited success. When it is imperative that you get good adhesion, 3M double sided tape works every time for me. You will have great difficulty removing the object but that is definitely better than having a failed print job.
have you tried coating your bed with glue-stick adhesive before the print. It seems much more effective than hairspray and no worries about the mess of overspray or the hairspray smell.

The guys in our lab love the glue stick method because it is really effective and easy to clean up after each print. Just smear on the glass and go.
 

BobTPH

Joined Jun 5, 2013
4,927
I struggled with a Prusa clone for years. The number 1 problem, I now know is bed leveling.

I replaced it with a Dremel, which cost 2 grand, but had amazingly good reviews. They were right. A glass bed with glue sticks (came with the printer) and self leveling solved all of my problems. Every print has come out perfect. That includes 8 enclosures at 6x8x3 inches, which take all day to print. Even when it runs out of filament, it lets you reload and finish the print. And it has the web cam, so I don’t have to climb two flights of stairs to check on it.
I finally feel like I have something usable.

Bob
 
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Thread Starter

Wendy

Joined Mar 24, 2008
22,842
Like I said there was definitely a break in period. I have gotten through it, so it is no longer a problem. I'm still keeping the Hairspray in any case.
 

djsfantasi

Joined Apr 11, 2010
8,330
Get the glue sticks labelled PVP or PLA seem to work best. Some are marketed specifically for this application. One PLA and one PVP listed
Examples...
https://www.amazon.com/FENGWANGLI-P...t=&hvlocphy=9006283&hvtargid=pla-749266203786

Or

https://www.amazon.com/Printer-Stic...t=&hvlocphy=9006283&hvtargid=pla-571693443296
One problem I have with glue sticks in general, is that the material applied is most definitely not uniform. Ridges of glue form. How does this affect the printing?
 

Thread Starter

Wendy

Joined Mar 24, 2008
22,842
The ridges will transfer, you may not even need the glue stick. Try a print without first.
 

JohnInTX

Joined Jun 26, 2012
4,667
I struggled with a Prusa clone for years. The number 1 problem, I now know is bed leveling.
..And bed warping. I have a 2 year old gantry clone that initially worked fine but over time leveling and adhesion issues made it unusable. A backlit straightedge on the bed showed it wasn't flat. I mapped the bare bed with a dial indicator and found the total range of error over the area of the bed to be more than 3.5mm. (sic) No way to level that. It appears to have warped over time with heating/cooling cycles.

There is an auto-level kit for it but no stock. There is also a firmware update that allows manual Z tweaking but the process is time consuming. Going to try shimming the low areas of the bed with .05mm Kapton tape and see how that goes.

Check the flatness of the bed if you have continuing leveling issues.

Good luck!
 

MrSalts

Joined Apr 2, 2020
1,762
..And bed warping. I have a 2 year old gantry clone that initially worked fine but over time leveling and adhesion issues made it unusable. A backlit straightedge on the bed showed it wasn't flat. I mapped the bare bed with a dial indicator and found the total range of error over the area of the bed to be more than 3.5mm. (sic) No way to level that. It appears to have warped over time with heating/cooling cycles.

There is an auto-level kit for it but no stock. There is also a firmware update that allows manual Z tweaking but the process is time consuming. Going to try shimming the low areas of the bed with .05mm Kapton tape and see how that goes.

Check the flatness of the bed if you have continuing leveling issues.

Good luck!
Does it allow a glass plate to be installed over the warped base? You can also get PCB heaters at a good price to clip to the bottom of the glass.
 

MrSalts

Joined Apr 2, 2020
1,762
One problem I have with glue sticks in general, is that the material applied is most definitely not uniform. Ridges of glue form. How does this affect the printing?
It doesn't, the glue stick paste is so soft that the print head just plows through it on the first pass.
 

JohnInTX

Joined Jun 26, 2012
4,667
Does it allow a glass plate to be installed over the warped base? You can also get PCB heaters at a good price to clip to the bottom of the glass.
Yes. I'm using a Creality borosilicate glass plate with the black carbon(?) matrix on it. PLA sticks when it's hot, releases completely when it's cold. It's a heated bed. There is some variance in the flatness of the glass as well. Clipping the glass to the plate changes the (non) flatness of the assembly - one pulls against the other, I guess. I am adding some tape shims now.

@Wendy - sorry for the hijack. Just wanted to alert to the possibility of a warped bed plate from use over time.
 

ErnieM

Joined Apr 24, 2011
8,294
I've been running an Ender 3 Pro for well over a year now and I truly recommend it. Bought mine from Micro Center at the normal price of $199, but if you watch they oft have coupons for $100 off. I used that deal to get another at the office on their dimes.

There are a few upgrades necessary, jam nuts and stronger springs on the bed bolts (helps keep a leveled bed leveled), a better extruder (I went for the EZR Struder), the Luke Hatfeild hot end fix are really all you need. That and a Creality glass bed was all I did for the work machine after doing much more work on mine that never seemed to show any gain.

At home my off brand glass bed occasionally needs some help for adhesion and I use a $2 can of Aqua Net sprayed on. (Hair Spray is dead flat and the sticky stuff is also PVA.) Clean up is Windex and a paper towel. The Creality bed has not needed any sticky stuff.

Since getting this capability I don't know how I would accomplish some of the builds I've done at work without it.
 

Thread Starter

Wendy

Joined Mar 24, 2008
22,842
No apologies needed, while this started as a review other inputs are always welcome. I cannot lift this 3D printer with one hand. which is one of the reasons i could not assemble it by myself.
 

Thread Starter

Wendy

Joined Mar 24, 2008
22,842
I just finished my first completed project for this printer: Filament sensors for 3D printers. I've been working hard on this for the last three weeks, and I'm not really done yet. Now to go back and attach all the STL files that are associated with it.
 
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ErnieM

Joined Apr 24, 2011
8,294
Wendy i think i get what your sensor is doing: an intermittent beep to draw attention to the fault. Filament sensors are a very useful addition to a 3D printer. I've seen several "premium" printers now come equipped with them. I trust this will work for your situation.

Filament sensors come in two varieties: filament runout sensors (FRO) that detect when your spool run out, and filament jam sensors (FJS) that detect when the filament stops loading either because there is no more or there is a jam on the spool or such.

I tend to start with a mostly full spool for big jobs and save the ends for little things that I don't mind a run dry, little time and material wasted. But jams occur more frequently and are the bigger problem.

Doing research it seems both types are well represented online and make a good study. Also with the right firmware the Creality main board can work with either type, pausing your print so you can handle the problem.

I printed one type (FRO) with a micro switch used to detect filament. What caught my eye was the use of a ball bearing wheel to turn the filament 90 degrees to align the spool with the extruder. It just clips onto the Z axis bracket.

But it left me thinking I could do better. Most FJS types online use a photo interruptor to sense movement, and a toothed wheel spun by the filament the interrupted can sense. But they were all big clumsy units, and worse had no way to guide filament thru the turn.

So I made my own FJS design (in AutoCad) similar to that FRO type I like. The hard part was getting the filament to turn the wheel reliably and be east to load. No springs allowed!

I used two rubber O rings on the shaft and a static bearing (same one in the stock extruder) to make a compliant filament path.

Ive been running my proto for a few months now, mechanically it works but I still need to do the firmware change. Marlin has the code for that but it is disabled in most builds.

Once I see it all running together I will post the STLs and firmware (unless someone else wants to try the firmware portion). I'm out of the country on vacation now so I can't share for a week.
 
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