Gone are the days when 3D printers were the stuff of science fiction or rarified and well-equipped science labs. Now they are increasingly becoming part of the global mainstream.
This sea change has come about due to the increasing affordability and accessibility of 3D printers in our world. Some of them are not just highly affordable but print well too. This would include two of the most iconic printers of our time, both from Creality.
It’s the great Creality Ender 3 vs Ender 3 Pro debate. Since the Pro is an advanced model it’s undoubtedly better (you’d think), but is it really worth the cost?
After all, both of them are roughly the same printer, created by the same company and they also perform the same functions for the same niche. Right?
To an extent, yes, but if they were so similar there won’t have been any dire need to create a whole new printer in the first place. Yes, Ender 3’s Pro version is one of the most well-known printers out there, but does that really mean that it is worth your while to purchase one?
The short and succinct answer to this question is a unanimous, yes and in this review, we will delve deep into what sets apart these two market leaders in the 3D printing world.
Ender 3 vs Ender 3 Pro Quick Overview
Creality Ender 3
The Ender 3 3D printer is one of the least expensive 3D printers out there and it works great for its price tag. That is, it produces very high-quality builds and prints for its cost.
Add to that the fact that it is probably one of the most hackable 3D printing systems around. If you want reasonably good prints at decent quality, rest assured that this is just the right printer for you.
Its designers have ensured that it has a very nice and smooth motion with minimum vibrations and it also works very efficiently with most flexible filaments.
Unlike many of its competitors, the Creality Ender 3 comes semi-assembled and anyone with even a bit of do-it-yourself (DIY) acumen can not only assemble it, but also tweak it to their exacting specifications.
On unboxing, buyers have found that the Creality Ender 3 has been packaged well and there is a wide selection of tools that you will need to set it up along with step-by-step instructions.
Here it is pertinent to note that semi assembly is not equal to a fully assembled model at all. On the contrary, it can be quite aggravating for someone who has no knowledge of printing, to assemble the Ender 3.
However, there is no need to panic as such. Even if appears to be a tad bit problematic, the good people at Creality have provided a pretty well-explained assembling as well as an initial set up manual. If you still have any issues you can utilize any one of the really detailed audio-visual guides that are currently available on the net on YouTube as well as other resources.
A really neat advantage of using the Creality Ender 3 is virtually near-limitless flexibility. This makes it possible to both hack and tune the machine to your own customized standards. It is possible to print out various upgrades as well as modifications for the Ender 3 Printer. From miniatures to basic cosplay all the way to even serious work, the Ender 3 series does it all.
In fact, once you have successfully assembled your original Ender 3 unit properly, you can actually start printing your desired 3D objects straight away.
Here, it is pertinent to note that this printer is highly scalable. This means that you can spend hours learning the tricks of the trade and tweaking it until you get the kind of results that you want. In case of any unexpected power outage, there is no need to worry about successfully recovering your prints thanks to its inbuilt recovery feature.
In fact, this feature sets it apart from many of the conventional 3D printers that are now available in its class of lower budget 3D printers.
Filaments That It Can Safely Handle
Ender 3 can easily handle ABS, PLA, PETG, flexible, and several exotic filaments. Yes, it does not do all that well with of them and there may be adhesion and warping issues with ABS.
Apart from that, there may be difficulties with wood filaments, but it is possible to print successfully with the above-mentioned materials at the end of the day.
One of the key features that make the Creality Ender 3 a really popular machine is that it has a very decent build volume in comparison to its modest size.
The total build volume is 220 x 220 x 250mm, a solid size, given the low price.
Overall Print Quality
There are plenty of better 3D printers available today.
However, few, if any, could fuse quality and affordability like the Creality Ender 3. The machine is more of a do-it-yourself (DIY) project than a fully assembled printer.
Take it from me – the Ender 3 series are not plug and play (if you’re looking for that, I strongly endorse the Prusa i3 MK3S+).
This means that with the right amount of tweaking and patience and mods, you will easily be able to hit print quality equal to, or even better than many of this printer’s counterparts. It’s easy to tune up the print speed, or even go full beast mode and create an Ender 3 that can print at over 1000 mm/s!
Yes, it will be a steep learning curve, but once you understand the true potential of this budget 3D printer, you would love to modify it to your specs.
However, the printer’s printbed is pretty flimsy and can create a problem during printing due to its lack of stability. If you don’t re-level it often enough you might end up with materials getting stuck to the bed. This is one of the key reasons why the company had to release the Pro version of this printer.
Since it is an easily hackable 3D printing machine, there are many different mods and hacks available online. The huge Ender 3 community churns them out practically every week. Ultimately, it is the best bargain around for a beginner looking to spend less and get more from their recently purchased 3D printing setup.
- Modeling Technology: FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling)
- Net Weight of the package: 8kg
- Printing Speed:180mm/s
- Filament: 1.75mmPLA, TPU, ABS
- Output:24V 15A 360W
- Printing Size: 220*220*250mm
- Machine Size: 440*410*465mm
- Power Supply: 100-265V 50-60HZ
- Nozzle Diameter: 0.4mm
- Printing Accuracy: ±0.1mm
- Layer Thickness: 0.1-0.4mm
- The printer is ideal for all kinds of cosplay, miniatures and other hobbies
- One mm layer resolution
- It boasts of a universally smooth motion
- It works very effectively with a veritable plethora of flexible filaments
- Extremely affordable price
- Compact design
- Sufficient print volume
- Fast set up
- Excellent build plate to enhance printing abilities
- The base is slightly unsteady
- It has stability issues
- The X-axis belt is too long and loose
Ender 3 Pro
The all-new and radically improved Ender 3 Pro version comes suitably well equipped with a whole bunch of top upgrades. Taken together, they can create a much better and more stable print platform over the original Ender 3.
Of course, there is always the 3X to take into consideration as well. It is definitely better than Ender 3 but it is also more expensive too. In fact just slightly less than its Ender 3 Pro counterpart.
If you were to juxtapose the two Ender machines together you will notice that the Ender 3 Pro is quite definitely a step up from the original Creality Ender 3. In fact, you should understand that the Ender 3 Pro as not just a simple upgrade, but rather a completely new machine, altogether. This is because it boasts of a whole new range of value-added features that you would be hard put to find on many other competing models.
It has an under $300 price tag, but don’t let that fool you at all. As a matter of fact, the Ender 3 Pro is an extraordinarily high-quality printer. It definitely comes up to standards and even exceeds them in the following capabilities:
- Overall quality
- Large build size
- Budget and
- Post Purchase expandability
Unlike its predecessor, the Ender 3 Pro has been equipped with a pretty sturdy 40×40 aluminum extrusion. This larger extrusion was deemed necessary to improve the overall stability of the print surface. Apart from that, this all-new extruder upgrade has increased overall printing quality to a great extent.
Since the original Ender 3 had stability related issues, Creality has designed its new Pro machine’s Y-axis so that it would provide a more stable platform. Apart from that, the Pro version of the Ender 3 series has very large bearings that aid in creating a higher level of stiffness and thereby reducing friction and vibrations.
Assembling the Machine
The Pro is very easy to assemble. In fact, it is one of the easiest semi-assembled kits available today. Since the X and Y axis already come pre-built you won’t have to fiddle around with them. Just mount the Z-axis and you are good to go.
The Ender 3 Pro kit has a set of tools that are part of the package. No need to look all over the house for a screwdriver or nut. Just follow the instructions available in them and if you don’t get anything, just go through the 8GB gigabyte SD card that has detailed instructions regarding the assembly process.
Since everything is very well-packed in multiple layers of plastic you can rest assured that your Ender 3 Pro won’t suffer any breakage during transportation.
Excellent Quality at a Really Great Price
This machine is certainly a great tool if you are interested in cosplay or D&D miniature. Apart from that, it will also serve entry-level students and other beginners too. But the Ender 3 Pro is not a professional level printer, regardless of the ‘Pro” in its name.
Like its ender cousin, the Pro version of the Ender 3 has also gathered a dedicated fan following. This is why there plenty of new upgrades and mods available on 3D resource websites. In fact, you have only to log on Thingiverse and MyMiniFactory and type Creality Ender 3 Pro to check for yourself the multiple printable upgrades for this printer.
However, if you are not the type to print upgrades and press them to work, you can always buy the same from Creality itself. The company retails a great line of plug and play upgrades along with various other very important components. This holds true for both the original and the Pro.
- Very high print quality as per its price point
- Highly affordable
- Compact design with a great print volume
- Very easy to assemble
- Upgradable and hackable
- Tight filament path
- This printer gives amazing results on benchy tests
- Strong extruder
- It requires a lot of adhesion materials
- Bed leveling can be very difficult at times
- The magnetic bed is not the first choice of preference for everyone
- Brittle filament issues
- Lack of multiple nozzles
- LCD screen: Yes
- Print volume: 220 x 220 x 250 mm
- Filament: 1.75 mm
- Connectivity: SD card, USB
- Layer resolution: 0.1-0.4 mm (100-400 microns)
- Heated bed temperature: 110 ℃
- Nozzle: Single 0.4 mm
- Max. print speed: 180 mm/s
- Packing type: Unassembled kit
- Print precision: +/- 0.1 mm
Ender 3 and Ender 3 Pro Head To Head Features
Let us take a quick look at the head to head features of the Ender 3 pro and Ender 3 printers.
Meanwell Power Supply
The Ender 3 had a decent power supply but it has been properly upgraded in the Ender 3 Pro version. The New version of the Ender 3 has been equipped with a Meanwell Power Supply Unit (PSU).
This unit is not only more powerful and beefy but also thinner and quieter too. Apart from that, there is also the fact that the power supply is better insulated and advanced for the Ender 3 Pro over its older counterpart.
If the power supply is weak, electricity provision would become erratic and lead to problems in the build process. This is why it is so important to have a better power supply. Here the Pro shines over its other siblings.
The original Ender 3 came with a large board fan that had been mounted right on top of the printer’s base. This meant that bits and pieces of printing filament used to fall on the high speed rotating blades.
After customer feedback, Creality’s designers ended up placing this fan in a better position, right at the bottom of the Ender 3 Pro printer. Apart from that, the fan of the Pro reduces noise level to a great extent.
Newly Redesigned Magnetic Print Surface
The Ender 3 Pro printer has a really great state of the art “C-MAG” magnetic printing bed. The main claim to fame of this printing sheet is that is both flexible as well as easily removable. This way, once your prints are done, you will have to just pluck them off the build plate. This feature has added a whole new era of both convenience and reliability.
Thanks to the intrinsic and uniquely textured surface, the critical first layers of the build will stick to the bed throughout the printing process. Once done, there won’t be any need to scrape them away with the skillet.
The Resume Printing Feature
This is another really nifty function of the Creality Ender 3 Pro. Not only will you be able to fully recover your builds but also resume printing right from the point where the printer had stopped printing, such as in case of a massive power outage in a storm or even an accidental disconnection.
This function has typically been found in top-end and very expensive models. As of now, the Ender 3 Pro is one of the very first $300 printers to include this vital feature.
For these aforementioned enhancements, you’ll have to spend around $100 or so more for the Creality Ender 3 Pro.
The extruder set up, the aluminum extrusion, the large and robust bearings; all combine to enhance the build quality to a whole new level. In fact, the sheer attention to detail has been instrumental in propelling the Pro into the ranks of some of the best printers out there, even above its price range.
What about the Ender 3X
The Creality 3X is sandwiched in between both Ender 3 and Ender 3 Pro. The main advantage that the Ender 3X offers over both of the other two models is that it has a tempered glass print bed that is part of the original 3X assembly kit. In other words, you don’t need to buy another glass bed for your printer off the shelf.
The key benefit of such a bed is that it improves material adhesion while simultaneously making it easier to remove builds once the printing process is complete.
The Creality Company
Let us take a quick look at the Creality Company. Creality 3D are the purveyors and manufacturers in the design and development of all sorts of 3D printing equipment. It is a Shenzhen-based company and it was co-founded by a group of four friends.
Initially, they started off from scratch in a very small workshop a few years back. Their business model was as simple as it was unique and it has served them well to this day. They create products mostly in kit form and send it to the customers.
Based on customer feedback they tweak and fine-tune the product so that it incorporates all the value-added features that the customers want and desire. Thanks to this business model there is always a high demand for Creality products and as of now, the company has over 500 employees and regularly ships over 50,000 products all over the world.
Frequently asked questions
Is the Ender 3 the very best beginner printer?
In many ways, it would not be wrong to assert that this is really one of the best 3D printers around if you want something under $200 that is both reliable and durable. The 3D printer world has few machines that can win vs Ender 3 in the price to value ratio.
Can you print with high-temperature filaments with the Ender 3?
No, it is restricted only to 240 degrees C.
Is the Ender 3 easy to upgrade?
It is probably one of the easiest printers when it comes to upgrades. The huge online community has come up with all sorts of upgrades to boost your 3D builds.
When it comes to baseline budget printers the original Creality Ender 3 definitely offers the best bang for your buck due to its low price. This holds true when you compare any 3D printer vs. Ender 3.
On the other hand, the Ender 3 Pro boasts of a much sturdier and wider aluminum extrusion that is available at the Y-axis base of this machine. Since it helps to stabilize the build platform, it is arguably the single most important feature to take into consideration if the print quality is really important.
If you want to pay an extra $100 for it well and good, but you can also be well served by the 3X. After all, its tempered glass bed is a much better upgrade over the Pro’s magnetic printbed. The 3X hovers around the $250 mark.