The Ender 3 works like a standard FDM printer. You will need a roll of 1.75mm filament to load in the extruder before starting a print. 3D objects can be sliced with a slicer, like Cura, to make a printable gcode file. Gcode files can be accessed on the Ender 3 using an SD card.
When a print is complete, remove it from the print bed—use a scraper if necessary. For a detailed guide on setting up and using the Ender 3, visit our Ender 3 Review.
The Ender 3 usually ships with an older version of Marlin firmware. We highly recommend updating the firmware on your Ender 3 as soon as possible. To install the update, you will need an Arduino Uno to create a bootloader. The board can be connected directly to the Ender 3 to flash the firmware update.
Check out our guide for more details on how to install a bootloader and update Marlin firmware on the Ender 3.
The Ender 3 bed is leveled using knobs underneath to adjust the height. A sheet of paper must be placed between the nozzle and bed. Use the leveling feature built into the printer UI—the tool will move the nozzle to each corner of the bed. Adjust the knob until the paper moves with very little tension. Repeat until each corner is leveled.
The Ender 3 has a built-in heated bed (useful for printing filament like ABS). The default printer bed can be upgraded with a glass bed—making it easier to remove final prints.
The Ender 3 ships with Marlin firmware. This software is standard with most 3D printers. It can be upgraded with a bootloader and features plenty of tools to operate your printer to the fullest extent.
The Ender 3 can print gcode files. These can be sliced using any slicing software. We typically use Cura, which has definitely established itself in the 3D printing community as a reliable slicer. But there are plenty of others online worth trying like Slic3r.
The Ender 3 weighs in at over 17lbs (7.7kg). The footprint is impressive, with dimensions of 22" x 23.6" x 24.4" (55.9cm x 59.9cm x 61.9cm). You will need a good amount of workspace to integrate the Ender 3.
The Ender 3 and Ender 3 Pro machines are very similar in design. The Pro model has a few hardware upgrades that set it apart from the Ender 3. The printer features a much smaller and quieter Meanwell power supply unit. The Y-axis is mounted to a piece of 40x40 aluminum extrusion, making the print surface more stable.
Perhaps the most notable difference is the magnetic printing bed. Prints go directly on top of a magnetic sheet which can easily be removed after a print has completed. The Ender 3 has a fan on top of the printer base that catches falling pieces of filament. In the Ender 3 Pro this fan has been moved to the bottom of the printer.
In this guide, I will remove the stock Ender-3 motherboard and install a BIGTREETECH SKR mini-E3. The process is the same for both the 1.2 and 2.0 versions of the motherboard.