3D printing is the new horizon of printing many different shapes and sizes of an object, allowing you to be able to print off test 3D versions of your product design. This real-world testing is crucial for finding the faults of your product before rolling it out for mass production.
This is where the Ender 3 printer is invaluable - a state-of-the-art 3D printer that most professionals describe as the perfect introduction to the world of three-dimensional printing. One of the key features of this printer is the ability to upgrade it.
You can add both hardware and software to this printer as it goes along, some of which will drastically improve not only the quality of the printouts but make the whole process of 3D printing that little bit easier.
But where can you find the best upgrades for the Ender 3 printer? What features should they be made out of to give you reliable performance? How easy will they be to attach to your Ender 3? How much can you be expected to pay for one of these 3D printing upgrades?
Well, you won’t have to worry about being able to upgrade your printer for much longer, because we’ve got a comprehensive how-to upgrading guide. We cover a wide variety of hardware including extruders, fireproof and dustproof enclosures as well as an upgraded glass bed.
We also have a list of software that you can use to upgrade your 3D printer, as well as a list of temperatures that will give you some of the best and smoothest 3D printouts for you and your company.
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
First-off we’re going to look at extruders, which is the point where your 3D shape is created in a cross-sectional design.
This is made by heating up plastic, then firing it through a die until it creates the shape that you desire. This extruder is made from sturdy aluminum, with a mount for extra stability - introducing the Redrex Upgraded Aluminum Bowden Extruder.
This extruder is one of the best upgrades for the Ender 3. The composition of the metal frame is perfect for keeping your object firmly fixed during the extrusion process.
Remember that there is a lot of heat that comes with the 3D printing process, so having an extruder that will be able to withstand this extreme pressure is very important.
This extruder has a motor stepper that means you can fix it a lot more firmly to the housing of your printer.
This model can support 1.75 mm filament feedback, allowing for a nice and smooth transition of the plastic through the gears.
It also comes with a premium pneumatic connector that will be far more reliable than a plastic version.
- This is one of the most resilient extruders on the market - it will keep your plastic filament fixed in place for the duration of the extrusion process.
- The metallic teeth design will result in the filament feeding through the gears, resulting in a much smoother transition into the printing area.
- This extruder is able to support Direct Drive setup, as well as filaments such as ABS, PLA and wood-fill. These are great for getting that smooth and fluid shape to your 3D printouts.
- This extruder is made from alloy material, making it a lot sturdier than some other brands that come in a plastic formation.
- Some users have complained that the gears on this machine tend to wear out quickly, resulting in metal filaments getting found in the final plastic product.
Next up we have a hot end for your extruder, which is where your plastic is heated before it is deposited into the extrusion zone.
This piece of equipment is always intended to be used in conjunction with the extruder, and this model will supersede the one that comes with your original Ender 3 - introducing the Micro Swiss All Metal Hotend Kit.
This upgrade kit will make the molding of your 3D plastic shape much easier and smoother, giving you everything that you need for producing the perfect 3D shape at the end. It has a cooling block that will not require the need for a thermal tube, making for quicker heat dissipation.
The fact that this hot end is made from high-grade titanium alloy means that you won’t have to worry about melting or reduced function in your hot end.
This will be a hot end that will heat your plastic 3D shape over the long term, which is exactly what you want when you’ve upgraded your printing unit.
- The aluminum cooling block will give you everything that you need for making sure that your plastic 3D object does not lose its shape or deform over a period of time.
- The cooling block on this unit will completely eliminate the need for a thermal feeding tube. The titanium components simply make this the most durable component on the list.
- This kit comes with plenty of hardware with which you can quickly assemble every part of your hotend.
- This has a lower thermal conductivity than most hotends that you can find on the market, resulting in a much cooler and more defined meltzone.
- Some users have complained that this hotend really complicates the rate of the workflow and has resulted in a worse end product than a lot of the stock hotends.
Next up we have a build surface for your printer that won’t require any additional implements such as knives or spatulas for you to remove your final plastic 3D model.
This plate is magnetized, resulting in a model that won’t need to be removed with any excessive force - introducing the Creality Original Ultra Flexible Removable Magnetic 3D Printer Build Surface.
The build platform that comes with the Ender 3 is perfectly functional, although many users that have reviewed this product have stated that they wished they’d upgraded sooner.
With the flexible hub, you should be able to peel off your 3D model with relative ease. You can simply flex the plate for a much cleaner removal.
This plate can be used over and over again with very minimal cleaning. The durable magnetized base will cause it to become securely fixed to the base of your Ender 3.
This is perfect if you want to cut down on tools that you would normally have to use to separate your model from the extruder and melting zone.
- The magnetized components - when it comes to fastening your plate to the surface of your printer, then this non-stick approach is certainly one of the best that you can find on the market.
- This will remove any unsightly stains that might ultimately accumulate on your printer and may ultimately damage the ability for it to function. This might negatively affect the final quality of your 3D printouts.
- You’ll also save on having to use additional tools to scrape off the excess plastic on your plate, which could also lead to additional damage to your printer.
- It will improve the overall condition of your printer and will ultimately promote its longevity.
- Some users have reported that this plate will leave discoloration on the underside of whatever model you happen to print off. This will certainly not appeal to anyone for whom presentation is important.
This is one of the most sought-after glass bed upgrades on this list, giving you plenty of value for your printing experience.
This tempered glass will drastically reduce the level of adhesion that you experience on the underside of your plastic model. It is incredibly heat resistant and won’t damage your mold - introducing the Creality Ender 3 Glass Bed Upgraded.
This is perfect for keeping your printer in pristine condition. Preserving the elements of your heating area is crucial for printing 3D plastic models.
Metal will often get scuffed and heat burned, plastic will melt very easily, whereas glass will retain intense heat for longer without transferring it to other components of your printer.
This glass plate is held in place quite easily using heavy-duty metal clips, which adds to the overall security of your final model.
These parts can often buckle and warp when subjected to intensive heat, but that won’t be the case with this glass model. You can make sure that your heat is transferred evenly across the surface of your plate.
- This plate is manufactured from carbon and silicon, which gives it a heat resistance of upwards of 400-degrees.
This is a great unit to give you that barrier between the body of your
- Ender 3 and the heated elements of your extrusion plate and your hotend.
- This build plate is one of the most resilient items on this list, you can upgrade your Ender 3 to make sure it is a lot more heat resistant.
- This upgrade will preserve the life of your printer by quite some way, reducing the damaging heat levels that will often corrupt the inner workings such as the gears and the motor.
- Some users have complained that after they have fitted their glass build plate that they have discovered it’s not level.
Keeping your 3D printer safe from the surrounding environment will be very important. When stains accumulate on your printer, then eventually they can impact the delicate inner components.
To make sure that your printer can stand the test of time, then you should definitely invest in one of these covers - introducing the Creality Fireproof and Dustproof 3D Printer Enclosure.
This cover is perfect for keeping all of your tools inside, so you won’t have them strewn across your workstation and running the risk of getting lost. You can also bend the enclosure in a certain way that will help you to store a lot more tools in the meantime.
The 3D printer enclosure will make sure that the temperature of your printer will remain constant and will actually reduce the chances of it overheating. Having a solid temperature will stop the metal from warping and ultimately result in a consistent level of printing.
- As it is stated in the title - this jacket is both dustproof and fireproof. Dust can be very harmful to the inner temperature of your printer, causing less oxygen to circulate and heat to build up.
- Also preventing the spread of fire is hugely important if, for some reason, your machine malfunctions and you end up with a naked flame.
- There is a flame retardant aluminum film that will make sure that your printer will stay safe and contained even after a rampant fire.
- This has plenty of storage pockets for your tools, giving you that peace of mind that all your printer tools are in one place and won’t get lost anytime soon.
- Some users have complained that this product has poor quality stitching, which will ultimately lead your product having a lower shelf life.
This next driver is handy for getting you that quiet printing sound that you might be craving, especially if you have a home 3D printer that often keeps your family or the neighbors awake.
When it comes to installation, this is a plug-and-play unit, making the installation super easy for you - introducing the BigTreeTech SKR Mini E3 V2.0 Control Board.
This has a controller onboard that gives you plenty of options, you can plug in and play without having any expertise regarding printer maintenance.
The hardware is open-source, so you can upgrade it as and when you like, improving performance or safety. If you have been itching for upgrades on your printer, now is the perfect time to invest.
This unit is very reasonably priced, considering the number of features that it has, and also features that you can upgrade it with. This board also offers you increased heat dissipation, which will definitely improve the overall performance of your machine.
- This board has been designed to decrease the functionality that you might have when dealing with heating issues - the driving chip has been purposefully placed further away.
- It is a heat saver, making sure that the heat from your extruder is not transferred to the more valuable components of your driver.
- The installation - you can plug-in-and-play this one very easily, so you can expect your machine to be upgraded in next to no time at all.
- This is the best board to have if you want to upgrade your machine with further safety features as well as performance-enhancing hardware such as dual speed fans etc.
- Some users have complained that when this unit does fail that there is no extensive customer support that will enable you to get back to the smooth running of your machine.
Do you fancy increasing the control over your 3D printer? Well, you can do it if you purchase one of these handy control panels.
This is very easy to use and will allow you better operation over your 3D printer overall, with a touch LCD screen that clearly displays all the options available to you - introducing the BigTreeTech TFT35 E3 V3.0 Graphic Smart Display Controller Board.
With this control panel, you can control the levering, the heating output as well as the extrusion and fan speed.
You can upgrade the board with an SD card, which is simple to use and very easy to install. If you find it tough to navigate your way around your Ether 3, then this is simply the best word to upgrade it with.
You also have the option of choosing between an LCD mode and a touch screen mode, giving you an added flexibility when it comes to choosing your display options.
This LCD screen is compatible with other kinds of 3D printer, not just the Ether 3, so if you have more than one unit running, you should select this one.
- The installation - this is one of the easiest control panels to install, you can have it up and running in just a few minutes.
- The operation - if it’s simplicity and control that you’re looking for with your control panel, then we can certainly recommend this unit.
- The display features give you the ability to hone in on certain features, you can turn up the heat of your print or control the modeling of your 3D object.
- Controlling the heating output will be very important for not damaging your 3D model. You can easily just crank it down to moderate levels in order to make sure that the transfer is low and the outer components of the printer do not get damaged.
- Some users have complained that the installation time of this printer is a lot longer than stated on the product website.
Having a lack of automatic bed-leveling might make the whole process of 3D modeling a lot more laborious and annoying, whether you are a beginner or someone with years of experience under their belt.
You can spend hours getting the bed at just the right level, making sure that your final model does not come out distorted - introducing the BLTouch Auto Bed Leveling Sensor.
However, automatic bed-leveling isn’t this product’s only reason for existing. It has plenty of other smart functions that you can use to make sure your final model is molded to your exact specifications.
It has an alarm release and its own testing mode for both safety and ensuring the right elements.
These different modes will allow you to tweak things to within the millimeter. Having this level of precision is very important for 3D modeling, as you are probably already aware. The last thing you want is for your final model to come out distorted after hours of programming.
- This will remove the frustration of having to manually program your bed levels. Machines are just more accurate than humans, so you can be sure that your model will turn out pristine.
- The other functions on this device, such as the alarm release and the auto-correct function on the leveler, will also make sure that your model comes out at the other exactly looking exactly as you programmed it.
- This is perfect for use by beginners and expert modelers, giving the pros that extra flexibility and precision that they desire and the beginners that extra helping hand when it comes to getting the basics.
- The price - given the number of features that this model has, you can be sure that you will get as much for your money as possible.
- Some users have complained that they’ve had to purchase additional items such as a bracket and extension wires in order to properly mount this device.
When it comes to connecting the extruder to the filament area, making sure that your model goes from the keypad to the extrusion zone with as little margin of error as possible, you’ll want a very decent piece of tubing.
This is designed with an accurate and constricted inner formula for the dynamic transfer of energy - introducing the Creality Capricorn Bowden PTFE Tubing.
This tubing is over 1 meter in length, so you won’t have to worry about there being any constriction or tripping hazards between your extrusion zone and your keypad.
This will be one of the main concerns, especially if you have a family or having a crowded work area where tripping might damage the integrity of your machine.
You can print many flexible materials with the utmost accuracy. It makes the whole process of printing a lot smoother, with less risk of actually under-extruding your product. This cable will make your 3D modeling much easier in the long run.
- With an inner diameter of 4mm, there is plenty of capacity here for a swift transfer of complex information from your keypad to your meltpoint.
- This cable is made from very durable copper material, making it one of the most durable options on this list.
- With wheelable nuts, you can affix this cable very securely to your extrusion zone. When it comes to making sure that your printing process is not interrupted, this really is one of the best wires to use.
- This cable is also designed to resist corrosive elements and reduce the oxidation levels in your entire printer unit, but especially in the cable where most of the more sensitive information is conveyed.
- Some users have complained that this unit will produce stringy models once it has been used a few times. This certainly won’t be appealing to anyone who wants that degree of perfection for their models.
This next printer component is another one that will help to keep your platform level, giving you the ability to print out 3D models that are not only even, but easier to remove from the melt zone.
If you buy hand-twist springs like this, then you have the ability to build a strong foundation for your models - introducing the Upgraded 4PCS Creality Aluminum Hand Twist Leveling Nut.
When it comes to securing the bed of your 3D printer, this is a great unit that is not only very sturdy, but it is also very affordable.
You can adjust these by hand in order to keep the bed at the exact level of specification that you want. If you prefer ‘hands-on’ control over automatic, then these are the cranks for you.
The fact these wheels are made from metal rather than plastic will lead to them having a dramatically-increased lifespan. Plastic wheels tend to buckle, especially after being exposed to the intense heat of your printer.
- The manual adjustment - if you are a professional 3D printer, then you might want the extra control that these hand cranks can give you.
- Your bed can be made extremely flat with these useful accessories, with a level of control that can’t be reached with automatic levelers.
- These come in a solid design and can be fitted and easily removed again, which is ideal if you feel like they aren’t doing the proper job and want to revert to the built-in wheels again.
- You can tighten these wheels extremely well with these devices, giving you everything that you need for a very secure bed for your 3D models.
- Some users have complained that these wheels might tighten too hard and could result in the bed bending or even splitting if wound too tightly.
This unit is almost a built-in computer itself, coming with plenty of powerful specifications that can only boost the performance of your computer.
This has powerful specifications and comes with a 6-foot HDMI cable, a set of heat sinks and a noise filter for smooth running - introducing the CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 Starter Kit.
This is basically an on-board computer that you can use to hook up your printer, giving you the ability to construct some of the most marvelous designs on the planet which you can send straight to your 3D printer.
If you want to churn out plenty of test models, then this fast and durable computer is the one for you.
- The number of things that you can do on this Raspberry unit is amazing, it allows you to make stop motion animation as well as design your own 3D model for printing straight away.
- This is great for having that extra control over your printing unit, allowing you to remote beam your designs straight to your printer.
- This unit is a high-powered computer all of its very own, having a high processing speed, power supply and a built-in fan.
- This system is called NOOBS, which stands for New Out of The Box and will mean that your computer will be up and running in no time at all.
- Some users have complained that this device does tend to crash, especially when it is operated at a higher speed.
Software Upgrades For The Ender 3
When it comes to running your Ender 3, the hardware is only half of the picture.
Having the right software for your 3D printer will also be very important for that technical level of precision when it comes to your modeling.
Simplify 3D is great slicing software that will allow you to add and remove objects to your 3D printer very efficiently and easily.
This additional software does cost you a pretty penny, but it will make all the difference to the professionalism of your final model.
This software is quite ingenious, allowing you to add numerous features and designs to the initial design of your 3D printed model.
You can even alter the specifications of it in the handy digital modeling window. You can also set your model correctly on the build platform, giving you the utmost control over the placement of your final model.
A lot of the custom slicers that you can get with your printer are very basic, but with the Simplify3D software, you have so many features that you will notice your modeling abilities improving quite significantly.
Remember: this is digital modeling, so it is important that you have the perfect medium between your hands and the plate.
Having the correct temperature for your modeling is crucial. Too much heat and you can expect your model to start stripping or even warping, whereas too little heat will make it look lumpy and misshapen.
Having the right heat setting will be determined by the type and brand of the filament that you’ll be using for your printer.
Usually, there will be recommended heat settings on the side of your filament tubing. These will be healthy ranges between temperature values, rather than a single definite correct heating point.
If you have a PLA, then you should have your heat settings somewhere between 180 and 220-degrees. If you have an ABS or PETG, then we would recommend that you get your printer to somewhere between 220 and 265-degrees.
Our Final Say
As you can see, there are plenty of ways that you can upgrade your Ender 3 3D printer, from hardware to software, there are easy and not-so-easy methods of doing this.
Most of these hardware upgrades are simple to install and will increase the overall performance and accuracy of your models quite dramatically.
Whether it’s temperature cooling or removing the final model from your build plate without any additional tools, these upgrades can rectify a lot of weaknesses that come with the Ender 3.