I recently got into 3D printing and like many others I started with the Ender 3. The normal one, not the pro or the new Ender 5. I bought it new for 100£ which seemed amazing. Maybe it was a unit that didn't pass qc or something. You can find one on ebay. But if you buy a cheap one or even a proper one from creality make sure to read the rest of this article first.
I bought replacement parts and tools with my Ender 3. I read online about the small issues and I wanted to be ready. The printer came with a very small spool of PLA and out of the box once set up it printed perfectly. I used cura for slicing with the default settings. The second print had some issues, so I calibrated the extruder, tightened the screws all around the printer and tried again. My printer has probably an old board so it doesn't let me save any settings. As a result I have to save everything on cura and work from there.
After about a few weeks of use, the hotend heater broke and then the thermistor too. I bought a bag of thermistors and 24V heaters from ebay for around 10£ and after a few hours it was working again. I added a silicone cover to the hotend and replaced the nozzle with a higher quality one.
Later I got a glass heated bed to make leveling easier and to make it easier to unstick the prints once finished. This was probably the best upgrade I made.
Then after another few weeks of use the adapters that hold the ptfe tubes broke and had to replace them, so I also added the capricorn brand tube that is more resistant to heat. I also replaced the extruder gears to the aluminium ones. That was really worth the 12£.
At this point prints were perfectly fine. I recalibrate everything to make sure things are still accurate with the new hardware.
Overall so far I spent 100£ on the printer and another 100£ on parts. But most of those parts are better than the originals. And overall I am happy with it. I am mostly using it for prototyping so I don't need it to be fast or big.
The most annoying part is when the heated bed broke. The cables came off and my soldering iron couldn't stick them back on the ceramic heater pad. So I had to order a new one, this time directly from creality, which was 30£. It is very frustrating sometimes when you have prototypes planed to be printed and small repairs delay your projects. But for the price that's what you get. The thing is that I can now repair most problems for free since I have a few spare parts. Everytime you buy spare parts you find then cheaper in bulk so I have like 5 24V hotend heaters and 4 springs for the heated bed and then replacement nozzles and motor couplings. So it may be a bit bad at first but if you know what you are doing and have enough time and energy to deal with it you should buy it.
Even for 250£ which is how much I have paid for it so far its still worth it. I will be sharing here more about my Ender 3.
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