Have a Ender 3 Printer, or getting one soon and want to know which upgrades you might want to take a look at? Well here is my list of the best of the bunch, in the order that, in hindsight, make the best upgrades. Some are better at making your prints turn out, some are for ease of use, some are just plain fun – let’s take a look:
- Upgraded extruder arm mechanism – this is the first thing you should do if you plan to print more than just now and then. Even then, you will want to do this in the long run. The plastic arm included in the stock Ender will wear and does not have the strength that an aluminum upgrade will give you. Upgraded extruder arm mechanism – this is the first thing you should do if you plan to print more than just now and then. Even then, you will want to do this in the long run. The plastic arm included in the stock Ender will wear and does not have the strength that an aluminum upgrade will give you.
- Glass Bed – A glass bed is just the best surface you can get (followed closely by #3 below). Get a glass bed and a can of Aqua Net Extra Super Hold hairspray and never look back. Perfectly smooth bottoms, no more dents in your stock build surface from improper leveling, and a great all around performer when it comes to adhesion.
- Removable Magnetic Build Surfaces – OK, the truth is, some days I think this is better than glass. I have 2 Enders, so I don’t have to choose. The removable magnetic build surface gives you a super easy way to remove prints, rarely needs cleaning because it sticks so darn well, and you will never drive a spatula into your arm trying to get a stuck on print to come loose.
- PetFang Cooling – This is a 3D print you can do yourself, for a nice improvement on finished products. The instructions take a bit to figure out which ones you need to print (and it depends on if you do #5 below) but it’s so worth the time.
- Dual Fans on the PetFang – While you are on #4, go ahead and add 2 fans to the Fang. If you get into PETG or just want great results on overhangs and no stringing, boost the airflow and rejoice.
- OctoPrint – Get a Raspberry Pi, an SD card, and install OctoPrint. Best thing you can do. Drag and drop files, monitor your progress on a PC, install some plugins to make everything more better, add a web cam and record that 3 day print. Just so much value here. Get this one done soon.
- Upgraded Rollers – Print these rollers out, and grab a few bearings for other fun projects while you are at it. This upgrade reduces drag and lets your filament be free to roll on! This Thingiverse link has a great wall mounted version, which I added to my space where 16 rollers now live to feed the printers. Awesome look, and they work really well. Print them at 50% infill or up for a nice solid roller and mount.
- Filament Guide – Get a guide to keep that filament away from your Z axis screw and the rollers on the motor. I like this one (
https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3275225 ) because you can stick it in when you forget (every time for me) and it stays nice and secure – also bonus is screwless install. Print an extra for the day when you break it off wresting with your printer or something nearby.
- Firmware Upgrade – Grab an Arduino and upgrade your firmware to the latest Marlin code for advanced features and the most important runaway thermal protection. If you leave your printer alone a lot to do it’s thing, move this one up on the list.
- Main Board Gen L Upgrade – Pretty thrifty way to upgrade your printer to take cool upgrades (see steppers and auto bed leveling). The Gen L won’t really make your prints any better, but you can add more to the firmware and upgrade the steppers.
- Upgraded Steppers – You can do this with add-on chips for the stock Ender board, but I have heard that you don’t get much with that route. Adding the Gen-L above and upgrading your steppers will give you super quiet motors (your existing ones become very quiet). I used the TMC2130’s – on the X and Y only. You can replace all 4, but I went with 2x 2130’s and 2x A4988’s (direct replacements of the stock ones that come on the original). This gives you a pretty quiet machine, and leaves the Z axis a little noisier – which you only notice on homing, and makes for a great audio cue when a print starts to take a look and make sure those crucial first layers go down right.
- BL or 3D Touch – Here is one that you can print a mount from the Fang kit above and add auto leveling to your machine, and after doing so you may wonder why this is so far down on the list. I added this to both of the Enders, and really it is one of the best upgrades you can do but learning about leveling first really is handy – manually. You will learn a bunch of stuff about your printer and 3D printing in general that will help you troubleshoot a pesky print, and pays off if you don’t have that knowledge already. After you have that figured out, do this one.
- Color Touch Screen – I did this one on one of the 2 Enders I have and I love it. It is a nice upgrade that does absolutely nothing other than makes you smile. It’s a fun weekend project, has some wow factor, and if you do OctoPrint above, you will rarely if ever touch it. But it’s cool.
There it is, the complete getting started list. Leave comments below if you have a must have upgrade, or want to share your experience. Check out the Teaching Tech channel on YouTube for many guides on how to install this stuff, his content is superb. Happy Printing!