3D Printer Under $300 – Evaluation Of The Creality Ender 3

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Image of the Creality Ender 3 - 3D Printer

Looking for a 3D printer under $300? I may have just the printer for you!

In this post I evaluate the Ender 3 from Creality 3D. This is a great printer with quite a bit of functionality and one of the largest build volumes you’ll find at this price point.

Creality 3D

Image of test bench in Creality 3D factory
One of the test benches at Creality 3D

Shenzen Creality 3D Technology Co., LTD, was founded in 2014. In their 36,000 square foot manufacturing facility, the company manufactures printers with fused deposition and stereo lithography modalities.

With a full suite of printers ranging in price from less than $200 to over $900 and shipping to over 30 countries, Creality caters to a wide spectrum of home printing enthusiasts.

The company employees 300 employees and has an impressive quality control system boasting printer test lines that operate 24 hours a day to test each printer before it ships.

Ender 3 Printer Highlights

Image of the Ender 3 printer
Ender 3 from Creality 3D

What I like about this printer:

  • Price – $229.00
  • 1 year warranty
  • Large, 220 x 220 x 250 mm (8.7 x 8.7 x 9.8″) build volume
  • Heated print bed enabling multiple material types
  • Automatic print resume in the event of power failure
  • Machined Y-axis groove for precision print head positioning
  • Patented, reduced clogging extruder technology
  • V-slot, 3 point X-axis support/guide mechanism for quiet and accurate print head movement
  • Top feeding filament roll mount enabling easier prints with brittle filament types
  • Large bed leveling adjustment screws
  • 3.5″ LCD display
  • 24 volt power supply enabling fast heat up times
  • Easy-to-install print head translation belts with simple belt tension adjustment

At this price point, I really cannot find too much to ding this printer on.

The only things I would like to see as a standard offerings are a glass print surface and a larger spool of filament but every upgrade adds to the overall cost.

At the time of this writing, 3D Printers Online Store is offering the Ender 3 for $209 and a tempered glass print bed upgrade for $20.

Printer Assembly And Set UP

The Ender 3 is a ‘do-it-yourself’ printer and does require assembly. The printer ships in a 51 x 40 x 19 cm box which helps reduce shipping costs from the factory to resellers.

Assembly is a straightforward, 12-step process with easy-to-follow instructions that will take about an hour:

Image of the components and tools that come with the Ender 3 printer
Ender 3 Components and Tools
  1. Mounting the vertical support rails to the pre-assembled Y-axis/print bed/base structure
  2. Attach the LCD display and power supply to the right support rail
  3. Attach the Z-axis limit switch to the left support rail
  4. Mount the Z-axis motor to the base support rail and attach the z-axis lead screw
  5. Mount the extruder/X-axis motor assembly to the X-axis rail
  6. Connect the V-slot roller bracket and nozzle mechanism to the X-axis rail
  7. Route the X-axis belt through the X-axis motor, nozzle and V-slot roller bracket
  8. Attach the belt tensioner and adjust to tighten the belt
  9. Thread the Z-axis lead screw through the X-axis motor bracket
  10. Attach the top rail to the vertical support rails
  11. Attach the spool holder to the top rail
  12. Connect wiring to motors, limit switches, extruder and LCD display

After assembly, the print bed is level is checked and adjusted via two large screws located on the underside of the bed.

Cura and Repetier-Host is loaded onto the microSD card that comes with the printer. Uploading the software onto your computer is as easy as inserting the microSD card and following the prompts. Creality 3D recommends uploading Cura.

Once the software launches the user enters machine specific parameters: X, Y and Z print dimension, nozzle diameter and bed heating.

The following machine and print parameters can be set and monitored through the LCD interface:

  • Set Nozzle Temperature
  • Current Nozzle Temperature
  • Set Hot Bed Temperature
  • Current Hot Bed Temperature
  • Cooling Fan Speed
  • Current Nozzle Location
  • Print Speed
  • Print Time
  • Print Progress (percent complete)

Specifications

Printing Accuracy:                       ±0.1 mm

Maximum Print Size:                   220 x 220 x 250 mm (8.7 x 8.7 x 9.8”)

Nozzle Diameter:                           0.4 mm

Layer Thickness Range:               0.1 to 0.4 mm

Nozzle Speed:                                  180 mm/s

Compatible Filaments:                 1.75 mm PLA, TPU, ABS, PETG

Operating Systems:                        Windows, Linux, MacOS

Layer Thickness Range:                0.1-0.4mm

Compatible Software:                    Pro/E, Solidworks, Siemens UX, 3DS Max, Rhinoceros 3D
Compatible File Formats:             .stl, .obj, .mpt, .mpf, .nc

Ambient Temperature:                  5 to 40° C (41 to 104° F)

Nozzle Max Temperature:             255° C (491° F)

Heated Bed Max Temperature:    110° C (230° F)

Connectivity:                                     USB 2.0 connection, SD Flash

Power Source:                                   AC 100-265V 50-60Hz

Overall Size:                                      440 x 410 x 465 mm (17.3 x 16.1 x 18.3”)

Shipping Weight:                             8 kg (17.6 lbs)

Auto Resume Print:                        Yes

Spool Holder:                                   Yes

Hot End:                                            MK10

Patent Buzz

Creality 3D has (11) Chinese Utility Model patent registrations. Utility Model patents are used extensively by Chinese companies to get patent protection for the shape, structure or their combination, of a product. Utility Model patents have a 1o year term, are faster and cheaper to obtain than Invention patents and are primarily used to protect products having a shorter lifespan.

Creality 3D’s patents cover the following product designs:

  • Printer nozzle extruding mechanism

    Image of Drawing from Chines Utility Model Patent CN207240869U
    Utility Model Patent CN207240869U Drawing

  • Environmental (noise) protection system for 3D printer used in school setting
  • Large format 3D printer
  • Printer nozzle with adjustable injection
  • Print platform release mechanism
  • Printer nozzle 3-way valve
  • Filament spool designed for quick dismantling
  • Heated print nozzle
  • Dual nozzle print mechanism
  • 3D printer with separable components for ease of transport or maintenance
  • Light curing 3D printer

The fact that the company has so many patents highlights their innovative spirit and desire to continuously advance the technology that goes into their printers

There are many 3D printer manufacturers in China. By obtaining protection for their designs with faster and lower cost Utility Model patents, the company keeps their competitors from copying their innovations while they are developing improved printer technologies.

What Users Are Saying

The Creality Ender 3 – 3D printer has an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars based on 28 Amazon customer reviews.

All of these reviews were written in 2018 and they break down like this:

  • 5-star 57%
  • 4-star 36%
  • 3-star 4%
  • 2-star 0%
  • 1-star 3%

I’ve included a few of the reviews below.

3 Stars – Part Cooling Fan Was Broken and Bed Can’t Get Above 75 C (the only 3 star review)

By Scott on July 12, 2018

“In general, I’ve been very impressed with the quality of the prints – especially since my unit arrived with a non-functional cooling fan.

The demo model printed perfectly. Yes, it was a very easy print with minimal overhangs and pointy parts to show stringing, but it was still /extremely/ impressive for this price point.

Of course, my printer has noticeable problems with stringy prints and poor bridging due to needing to replace the part-cooling fan. I’ve ordered a replacement fan (which gives me an opportunity to upgrade to a 5015 fan, using a petsfang nozzle), and will be insulating the bottom of the bed soon, so with luck, it’ll be better than new.

If it wasn’t for those snafus, I’d have give this printer a 5-star rating. Hopefully your printer doesn’t come with broken/under-performing parts.”

4 Stars – Working Getting Replacement Parts. Printer Is 98% Finished And It’s VERY Solid

ByM Morgan on August 5, 2018

“My review is changing. So far I have had to replace the Z motor and X belt. The seller has responded quickly. I have yet to make a print but I can 100% honestly say it’s built solid!!!!!”

5 Stars – Value For The Money

By Paul N. Robinette on August 7, 2018

“Where do I start? Easily assembled, came well packaged, and well organized. Easily the best printer for its size and price. Out performs Tevo, and the Monoprice lipstick delta that I once owned. compares to my CR10s as a work horse. And then there is the adhesion. Print your PLA with the bed at 60 and excellent adhesion. It is no gimmick. If my wife would let me, I would buy a couple more, but you know how that goes… It does not have auto level, but it is easily leveled with the large adjustment wheels. Also I have only had to level it once, when I fired it up, and around a hundred hours later, it is still level. I did move the spool to the side from the top for a more direct feed. I would encourage newbees to start with this. Wiring is great, not a jumble. Power, and control are well placed, unobtrusive and easy. Platform is stable with no need for additional support. One caution, you insert the mini sd with the metal showing down. My CR10s has the opposite the metal faces up when the mini sd is inserted.

If you are in the market for under $300 you will not be disappointed!”

1 Star – Poorly Packaged, Arrived Damaged (the only 1 star review)

By Design Studio on August 13, 2018

“Was very excited for our studio to receive our new 3d printer. Can’t say how this model functions, but when it showed up, it was all a jumble. Box was too big for pieces, with insufficient packing. The pieces fell out, smashed into eachother, and now the machine cannot be assembled.

Will be returning.”

Recommendation

At the very competitive price of $229, I really like this printer. The Creality 3D Ender 3 would make a great first or backup printer.

Stand out features include large, 220 x 220 x 250 mm, build volume, heated bed, patented non-clogging nozzle design, machined support rail components and 1 year warranty. I think you would be hard-pressed to find a printer with comparable patented technology and high customer reviews at this price point.

Noting that the printer does require assembly, it is best suited for the user who is handy with tools and comfortable assembling small components. If purchasing for a youngster or school program, as with all 3D printers, assisting with the assembly and initial set up is advised.

Purchase on Amazon

Purchase on 3D Printers Online Store

The printer comes with a relatively small filament spool. While this keeps costs down, you will eventually need more filament. See my previous post on some available filament types you can purchase.

What will you create?

Please submit your comments and questions below. I know there are many Ender 3 users out there and we’d love to get your insights.

 

 

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4 Replies to “3D Printer Under $300 – Evaluation Of The Creality Ender 3”

  1. Hi Jeff,
    I like the ender 3 printer. I need to get one, that’s a really good price for a 3D printer. What software can you us on the ender 3 printer? Can you use Fusion 360 program with this printer? Do you know if its simply to put the printer together?

    1. Hi Clarence, Thank you for your comment.

       I agree this printer has a great price point for the functionality and print volume offered. The printer comes with Cura which you upload off the card supplied.  I am not sure if the printer will work with Fusion 360 slicer.  I have a question into the manufacturer to find out.

      What you can do is design your objects in Fusion 360 and save the design as .STL file then slice in the Cura software provided and print from that.

      Yes the printer is simple to put together though I advise adult supervision for school settings or young children. The instructions are straightforward and very visual – 12 assembly steps, ~30 bolts and done. 

  2. Love the research here on your product reviews. You saved me a ton of time by giving the straight scoop. I was wondering if there are software updates associated with this product. Or are you all set out of the box?
    Thanks again for a great review!

    1. You are pretty much set out of the box. With my own home printer I use Repetier Host as my software which will work with this printer as well. The software is installed on your laptop and prepares the 3D models so they will be understood by the printer. Repetier Host is a very popular open source software package that is free and also provides upgrades. I just downloaded the latest version. For a small donation via PayPal of even $10 you can get access to advanced versions of the software.

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