The Ender 3 is arguably the number one 3D printer to come out of the Creality stable. It is one of the single most popular 3D printers in the world and its popularity is unmatched to this very day.
Both the Ender 3 pro and the stock Ender 3 3D printers are extremely capable machines and offer plenty of flexible filament solutions.
In this case, the Ender’s TPU setting can help take care of any flexible printing issues when you start using the Ender 3 3D machine for printing via TPU filament.
Let us take a quick look at the important settings that can help you to optimize your Ender 3 3D printer and take full advantage of its flexibility. But let us first study the concept behind flexible filament:
Generally speaking all flexible filaments are made of Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPE). This is a unique blend of both hard plastic mixed with rubber. Indeed, as its name suggests, these types of flexible filaments materials are highly elastic in nature.
This way they allow the plastic structure of the filament to be both stretched and flexed simultaneously for a great print.
There are several types of TPE filaments around and Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is the one most commonly used amongst all the different flexible 3D printing filaments out there. It is a particularly good flexible filament for being used in a printer and with the required settings you can use it to create excellent 3D print
While PLA filament can produce some excellent parts and print, you might well need flexible TP materials with different properties for any specific project from first to last layer.
That’s where flexible TPU filament comes into the picture: You can use it to create anything and everything from RC car tires to coasters.
Setting up your Ender 3 For TPU Printing
However, it does take a bit of trial and error and sometimes even heartbreak and frustration to learn something new as far as your Ender 3 is concerned. It is difficult for a new user to just simply put on a roll of filament and start crank out perfect prints from the start.
TPU, in particular, tends to cause some issues with many entry-level printers such as the Ender and the Ender 3 Pro. However, these TPU settings should take care of the issue. Let us take a quick look at the Ender 3 TP settings to see how you can best utilize TPU filaments for all of your 3D printing needs:
Ender 3 Slicer Settings for TPU
TPU prints a higher temperature than PLA, in the region of 220–230 °C.
You will also need to reduce your print speed to 15 to 25 mm/s (for everything, keep it consistent with flexible filament!) and disable retraction.
As with all slicer settings, the main key to eventual success is experimentation.
Of course, different brands of TPU will require different settings, but with a little bit of experimentation, you can get it right.
More upgrades for reliable TPU prints
Metal Hot End and Extruder
An upgraded all-metal extruder will help with preventing the bending of the TPU filament in the extruder. You can either purchase one or if you can’t afford it, just create one yourself. After all you do own a 3D printer!
The key is to make sure that you stop the TP from bending in any way, while it is passing though the extruder. Once you like the settings you can save them.
Just make sure to get the nozzle settings right for all of your Cura upgrades to create great prints. You can try to use a fan to cool it a bit. If you know how, you might want to make sure that the extrusion is really spot on from point A to Point B for your TPU print.
Direct Drive Extruder
Such a mechanism will eliminate the Bowden tube entirely. This will enable your Stock Ender 3 to become much more precise wen using a flexible TPU filament, and also while 3D printing in general.
The considerably shorter filament path will mean a better chance of success when working with TP for printed objects.
A Beefier Hot End
A beefier hot end can make printing with TPU a veritable breeze since it will eliminate the PTFE tube that are known to cause issues with TPU filament. They can also print at higher temperatures too.
The Bowden Tube
The Bowden tube of the Stock Ender 3 might be at fault for allowing the TPU to bend too much and clogging up the works and thereby causing a problem.
If you want to know more, there are plenty of online resources for TPU that can help you along.