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2018 Creality Ender 3 Review – Best 3D Printer Under $200

The Creality Ender 3 is considered to be pre-assembled 3D printer kit, but don’t be fooled, this machine requires a fair amount of tinkering before you’ll have it up and running. Compared to the Creality CR-10, which is also known as a pre-assembled, this 3D printer takes longer to put together. In fact, we’d prefer to label the Creality Ender 3 as a semi-assembled machine.

The assembly process is detailed in a small pamphlet that comes with the 3D printer, listing just 12 steps. Seems simple enough, but there were some steps that lacked detail and explanation, making the build time a bit longer than it should have been. If you account for both the assembly and bed-leveling, the entire affair will take the novice 3D printing expert around 1-2 hours to complete.

To simplify things, we can break down the assembly process into the following sections: frame assembly, X-axis assembly, belt installation, machine assembly, and wiring.

The first step is to put the frame together with the pair of 20×40 aluminum extrusion pieces, which will be fastened to the frame using two screws on each side. We found that turning the base of the print on its side made this easier to accomplish. There are pre-drilled holes in the base to mount the Creality Ender 3’s aluminum extrusions.

Following that, Step 2 is to attach the power supply box and LCD screen to the base. Again, this was an uncomplicated act that the Creality Ender 3 instruction manual laid out well enough. However, in the following steps, things get a bit more difficult, particularly if you’re a first-time 3D printer builder.

Once the LCD display and power supply are added to the base, the next move is to install the Z-Limit switch and Z motor to the left side of the frame, we must install two more components, the Z-Limit Switch and the Z Motor. The Z-Limit switch must be mounted to the side of the vertical beam precisely 32mm from the bottom of the Creality Ender 3 base. This is a critical step, as we discovered later on, because attaching the limit switch to high or low will mess up the entire calibration process. So, we highly recommend pulling out a ruler for this part, as accuracy is the key to success later on.

The Z-axis Motor is attached directly to a pre-installed bracket on the back of the left vertical beam. The lead screw is lubricated with grease, so we had to be careful not to remove any of it during the installation. Also be sure to loosen the bearings when installing the Z-axis motor, as the rail will not properly function if these are too tight.

The next step is the X-axis assembly, which can also be tricky for some. Why? Well, there are two beams in the kit that have the same exact dimensions, but only one has six pre-drilled holes in it. This is the one you’ll need for the X-axis, otherwise you’ll find yourself scratching your head and going backwards through the instructions. The left mount includes both the X-axis motor and extruder motor, as well as a strange Facebook QR code that seems slightly out of place on the Creality Ender 3’s frame.

Starting at the open side of the X-axis beam, you’ll have to slide the gantry into place by positioning the wheels at the top and bottom. The wheels should be smoothly sliding back and forth on the rail. If this is not the case, and the wheels are not properly situated, you’ll need to tinker with the eccentric nut behind the bottom wheel until it settles into place. Next comes the assembly of the mounting bracket and belt tensioner, both of which are installed on the right side of the beam.

At this point, it’s starting to look like we have a real 3D printer on our hands, but not before installing the GT2 belt on the X-axis. Each end of the pre-measured belt has a gold clamp, which will be positioned into slots below the extruder carriage.

To install the belt onto the Creality Ender 3, you’ll need to carefully roll the extruder carriage over the belt, which will slide the belt under the wheel and into the empty space. Do the same procedure for the second wheel, positioning the other end of the belt beneath the carriage. There is a pully on each end of the X-axis to wrap the belt around, which will ensure smooth motion of the extruder.

As we’ll expand upon in the following section, we ran into some issues with the length of the belt, but we won’t get into off of that now. The final step is to put all of the pieces together, as well as mounting the filament holder to the top of the frame.

The Creality Ender 3 manual is sufficient enough to complete the build process, but finding a good YouTube assembly video will also speed up the process and reduce mistakes. In the following section, we’ll go over the design of the Creality Ender 3 and bed leveling process.

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