The Ender 3 is a dream printer among the 3D printing modding community. And with the number of mods available for this printer, we’d have enough material to write a book.
However, that book would be a snoozefest, as most of the mods are pretty much useless.
In this article, we’ll cover ONLY the best Ender 3 upgrades that are the most bang for your buck and time.
Table of Contents
- Must-Have Ender 3 Upgrades:
- Good to Have/Quality of Life Upgrades
- All-Metal Feeder assembly
- BLTouch auto bed leveling sensor
- Silent Motherboard
- Meanwell power supply (PSU)
- Leveling nuts
- Stepper Motor Dampers
- Micro Swiss All Metal Hot End
- LED strip
- E3D Titan Aero Direct Drive Extruder
- Capricorn Bowden Tube
- Hardened Steel-plated nozzle
- Ender 3 Dual Z-axis upgrade
- 3D printer enclosure
- Free Printable Ender 3 Upgrades
- Board fan guard
- V-slot covers
- Cable chains
- Filament Guide
- Display PCB Cover
- Bowden Tube Pressure Fitting Fix
- Beeper silencer
- Belt Tensioners
- Minimal Scraper Holder
- Easy Control Knob
Must-Have Ender 3 Upgrades:
Chances are that your Ender 3 comes with an outdated version of the Marlin firmware.
The updated version comes with many perks, such as a filament runout and an auto-leveling sensor. And if you want the right heat setting for the nozzle and bed, depending on the type of print, the firmware can do that as well.
Another crucial reason to upgrade your Marlin firmware is the lack of Thermal Runaway Protection on the older version.
Thermal Runaway Protection makes sure your extruder doesn’t exceed the temperature limit and causes your 3D printer to go up in flames. It periodically checks on temperature, and if it senses something is off, it shuts down the printer.
If magnetic beds have been causing you trouble (don’t worry, they have been troubling 100s of other Ender users too), then I highly suggest switching to glass beds. They are one of the best build plates for 3D printers.
The two most significant issues in printers with a magnetic bed are a.) bed warping and b.) scraping of the magnetic surface while removing prints.
Keep in mind that the right print bed can make or break the first layer. And a bad first layer can subsequently not just break, but DESTROY the rest of the prints. However, all these issues become a thing of the past when you upgrade to a glass bed.
In the past, I’ve hated scraping off prints poorly stuck to my printer’s bed surface. But once I started using glass beds, the prints cooled quickly and popped off easily, no mess involved.
Good to Have/Quality of Life Upgrades
All-Metal Feeder assembly
If your printer suffers from the following symptoms:
- A chronic case of under-extrusion.
- The dreaded clicking noise syndrome (caused by the failure of the 3D printer to push in the filament)
Then you may want to consider purchasing the All-Metal Feeder Assembly. This mod fixes the extrusion problems. And by using it, you’ll notice your prints become consistent. Additionally, the clicking noise becomes a non-issue.
We highly recommend getting this. Installing one prevents surefire headaches down the line.
You can find installation instructions here.
BLTouch auto bed leveling sensor
Does leveling the bed skyrocket your blood pressure to the point where you want to destroy your printer? Instead of going on an Ender 3 killing spree, we suggest using the BLTouch auto bed leveling sensor.
Once installed, leveling becomes a breeze. What took me ages to test with paper took only a moment while using this upgrade.
If you’re an advanced Ender 3 user who knows how to update firmware, as well as how to hook in wires, AND if you feel leveling is a major pain in your behind, then get the BLTouch sensor as soon as possible!
Do your eardrums suffer because your 3D printer competes with the NASA Space Shuttle Launch for the loudest noise? To prevent such agony, I highly suggest the silent Motherboard. It’s too good to pass up.
It’s easy to add this motherboard. No need for firmware upgrades. Just swap in the new motherboard, and you’re ready to print again!
Another welcome benefit is that the menu becomes smooth to operate.
Silence is golden, and this upgrade lives up to the motto.
Meanwell power supply (PSU)
Safety and silence. This is what the Meanwell Power Supply delivers, and that makes it a fantastic replacement for the stock PSU.
The Meanwell PSU is safer than stock due to its high-quality components. The fans run only when needed, i.e., <20% of the time.
You will also find your 3D printing setup to be more compact due to its smaller size.
The power supply already ships with the Ender 3 Pro and V2.
If you’re a veteran Ender 3 user, you’ll probably agree with me on this: the bedsprings are terrible. They lead to inaccurate bed leveling and lackluster prints.
These improved bedsprings hold the bed surface much better than the stock ones do. This leads to accurate leveling, and in turn, accurate prints.
While a part of me wants to crack a joke on this (nuts… geddit?), let’s keep this page PG13..
The stock leveling nuts are made of plastic and have an unstable and fragile feel to them. On the other hand, these bright red aluminum nuts (giggles childishly) are sturdy. You can notice the quality difference immediately when compared to stock.
Who wants to walk miles and miles to the 3D printer next room when you can control your printer without twitching a muscle in your legs? For the lazy among you, the Octoprint is a must-have open-source software.
Let’s look at how having an OctoPrint can benefit you.
- Easy transfer of commands
Using the OctoPrint, you don’t need to be next to a 3D printer when issuing commands or when uploading a print. With the help of the software, you can remotely do the same.
- View the whole printing process from afar
Through the lens of the Raspberry Pi camera, you can watch your 3D printing from afar.
While the Raspberry Pi camera is usually more than enough, you can use expensive high-end cameras like the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 for better video clarity.
- Create Timelapse with Octolapse
If you’re a Youtuber or someone who likes to show off their prints on social media, Octolapse is an excellent OctoPrint plugin.
With it, you can capture sexy footage of the printing process. You can play around with different snapshot intervals and adjust the frame rate as you fancy.
The videos are saved then onto the Raspberry Pi, and you can download them any time.
- Remotely find out the status of different printing parameters
Not only can you watch the whole printing process live, but you can also monitor other parameters like layer number, nozzle position, extruder temperature, print status, and much more.
Stepper Motor Dampers
By now, we’ve mentioned a bunch of noise-suppressing upgrades. However, if your printer is still noisy, you can further decrease the noise from your printers by 5-10 dB using the Stepper Motor Damper upgrade.
Install these dampers on each stepper motor to reduce any vibration.
Micro Swiss All Metal Hot End
These are a little pricey but they prevent you from ever needing to replace your PTFE tube. This hot end can handle abrasive materials like carbon fiber and glow in the dark, filaments that the stock hot end wasn’t designed for. I also loved the machining and tolerances in this piece.
With the help of the Micro Swiss hot end, you can also print filaments that require a higher temperature like nylon and even polycarbonate.
Clogging of the nozzle also becomes a non-issue.
Wish your 3D printer looked funkier? Then consider purchasing an LED strip.
You can also watch your printer print in the dark, an incredible experience that will ignite the wonder when you first saw your 3D printer in action.
E3D Titan Aero Direct Drive Extruder
The Titan Aero is an easy-to-install direct drive extruder that improves the performance of the Ender 3 printers. This is the best in the market for those looking to upgrade their Bowden extruder to a direct drive one.
There are many reasons to upgrade to direct drive. Fewer extrusion issues, improved retraction settings retraction, and the ability to handle a wider range of filaments are only some of the benefits.
The E3D Titan Aero has a well-constrained filament path, which prevents the filament from jamming or bending. This makes it perfect for flexible filaments like TPU (NinjaFlex anyone?)
It can also handle high temperatures of 300°C, which means filaments requiring similar temp can be handled with ease.
Overall, this extruder is easy-to-install, lightweight, and can be cleaned easily.
Capricorn Bowden Tube
Don’t want a direct drive extruder and want to stick to a Bowden one? Then the Capricorn Bowden Tube is a fantastic affordable upgrade for your stock Ender 3 extruder.
With the help of inexpensive yet special high lubricant additives, there is minimal friction in the tubing. Thanks to this, there are a bunch of benefits, like better responsiveness, better printing accuracy, and less wear and tear on the prints. And the best part – you can print flexible filaments.
Clogged printers become a thing of the past. And so do retraction issues. This means that you’ll see reduced stringing, oozing, or even blobbing.
The tubing can handle more heat than the stock counterpart, making it perfect for filaments that require high heat. Moreover, the flow of filament is better with the new tube, resulting in better prints.
Hardened Steel-plated nozzle
Uncommon filaments like wood, carbon fiber, or metal can destroy the nozzle on the stock Ender 3. To prevent this, these Micro Swiss MK8 A2 nozzles are exactly what’s needed to handle such materials.
Coated with a nickel composite called TwinClad XT, these nozzles are rock hard and easily resist corrosion. Because of this, they withstand abrasive filaments with ease.
Even if you just want to use standard filaments, these nozzles work excellently as well. The Micro Swiss nozzles are a solid investment, and they will last you a lifetime.
Ender 3 Dual Z-axis upgrade
Does your 3D printer engage in violent breakdancing from time to time? If you face issues with unwanted vibrating or wobbling, then the Ender 3 Dual Z-axis upgrade will end the problem.
What makes the printer vibrate like this in the first place? The culprit is the single Z-axis rod that comes with the stock Enders. They cause the X-axis to tilt, leading to leveling issues which then cause drops in print quality.
An additional Z-axis rod provides the necessary stability to prevent this from happening and maintains a level X-axis throughout.
Compatible Printers: Ender 3/Pro/V2
3D printer enclosure
This is a full enclosure that has a transparent screen for print monitoring. Some of the benefits are:
- Improved print quality and consistency due to the ability to regulate temperature.
- Prevention of fires with the help of flame retardant aluminum film
- Prevention of dust from entering the print space
- Noise reduction
Setup is simple and it can be folded and stored as easily as well.
Free Printable Ender 3 Upgrades
Designing and printing your own modifications is one of the coolest things you can do as an owner of a 3D printer.
There are many Ender 3 upgrades available on Thingiverse that can be printed for your Ender 3. These upgrades aren’t going to make your prints better magically or anything, but it does have some quality of life upgrades which we will get into below.
Some of these Ender 3 upgrades are:
Since the motherboard placed under the print bed is exposed, filament can seep in and destroy the fan and the motherboard at the same time.
This is one of the most popular printable mods. We highly recommend using this to safeguard the sensitive parts of your 3D printer.
This nifty upgrade packs a dual punch of both practical as well as aesthetic value. While on the one hand it adds an element of style to your printer, on the other it prevents the slots from gathering debris.
Fed up with messy cables around the 3D printer? With this mod, you can gather all the Ender 3 wires and cables and wrap them up neatly with this handy upgrade.
This simple mod keeps the filament away from the feeder. By doing this, the printer feed becomes more consistent making the extrusion process smoother.
The Ender 3’s display PCB is poorly guarded and is painfully exposed. To prevent any damage, we recommend printing this cover to protect the Display PCB from external damage. It will keep all vulnerable electronics safe.
Does the Bowden tube in your printer pop off from time to time, affecting your printing and sanity in the process? Well, this fast and easy-to-print fix will help you hold the Bowden tube in its place.
The loud beeping from the Ender 3 is famed for putting millions of 3D printing enthusiasts in the hospital with their ears bleeding. Or so the legend goes.
If you want to safeguard your ears, this easy-to-print upgrade is known to keep the auditory health of users intact.
This mod prevents your print layers from shifting while keeping tolerances tight. They do this by maintaining the right tension on the X and Y axes belts.
Is a scraper a common tool you use on your Ender 3? The Minimal Scraper Holder is a handy mod that can be printed easily and adds to your convenience.
The Ender 3 stock knob isn’t the easiest dial to work with. Many users complain about the difficulty in dialing in exact printer settings.
The Easy Control Knob is a narrow knob that makes it easy to change printer settings with just one finger.
And that’s it! You don’t need to worry about mods ever again. All necessary mods are mentioned in this article.
While the Glass bed and Malin Firmware are undoubtedly the best upgrades to get, you can choose what to buy (or print) depending on your requirements. But if you have the money and time, we highly recommend you make complete use of Ender 3’s extreme customizability with the mods we’ve reviewed above.