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The rise of 3D printing technology has opened a wide array of opportunities, especially for hobbyists and enthusiasts who desire to explore more creative and complex designs. Ender 3, an open-source 3D printer, has particularly gained substantial popularity due to its affordability and upgrade-friendly features. This impressive machine comes with a default bed size that, while sufficient for many, might prove limiting to makers with grander ambitions. However, with an upgrade in the form of the Ender Extender kit, the potential for much larger projects can be unlocked. This article explores the enhancement of the Ender 3 bed size using the Ender Extender kit and how this modification could transform your 3D printing experience.
Understanding the Ender 3 Bed Size and Its Limitations
Ender 3 has a decent printing bed dimension of 235 x 235 mm, suitable for a wide range of small to medium-sized printing projects. However, for some hobbyists and professionals who are looking to print larger models, this standard Ender 3 bed size might pose a limitation. That’s where the Ender Extender comes into play.
Exploring the Ender Extender Upgrade
Addressing the limitations of the Ender 3 bed size, a company aptly named Ender Extender has launched an upgrade kit to expand your Ender 3’s print bed from 235 x 235 mm to a substantially larger 400 x 400 mm. This kit is specifically designed to extend the X and Y axes of the Ender 3, granting users more freedom to bring larger designs to life.
The Ender Extender kit ingeniously combines new components with the existing hardware on your Ender 3 printer. While the installation process is more complex than regular upgrades and comes with a relatively higher price tag of around $150, the results are well worth the effort and investment.
Balancing Pros and Cons: Upgrading the Ender 3 Bed Size
Like any modification, the Ender Extender upgrade kit for the Ender 3 bed size presents certain pros and cons.
On the plus side, the kit significantly increases the printing dimensions, retaining the heated-bed and auto-bed-leveling capabilities of the Ender 3. It is cost-effective compared to larger format printers of similar dimensions, such as the Tronxy X5T 500, and offers strong community and company support. Notably, the kit also makes efficient use of the majority of the Ender 3’s original parts and smartly condenses LCD and control board covers to save space.
However, the larger bed size comes with certain drawbacks. These include a longer heating time for the bed, additional weight for the Y-axis stepper motor, possible retraction issues due to the longer Bowden tube, potential need for extra wires for BLTouch and other upgrades, and the absence of an actual bed in the kit. The comprehensive assembly process may also require significant time and patience.
Steps to Upgrade Ender 3 Bed Size with the Ender Extender Kit
Certainly, let’s go into greater detail about each of the steps involved in upgrading the Ender 3 bed size with the Ender Extender Kit.
Step 1: Dismantle Your Ender 3
This initial phase involves removing certain parts of your Ender 3 to accommodate the new pieces provided in the upgrade kit. This includes the top extrusion, power supply unit (PSU), LCD mount, print bed, side frame extrusions, Y-axis extrusion, Y-axis motor, endstops, and more.
- Start by powering off your Ender 3 and unplugging all cables.
- Remove the top extrusion by unscrewing it from the printer’s frame.
- Disconnect the PSU and LCD mount, being careful with the connecting wires.
- Unfasten the print bed and remove the heated bed cables.
- Remove the side frame extrusions, Y-axis extrusion, and Y-axis motor.
- Make sure to keep track of the removed parts and the corresponding screws for the reassembly process.
Step 2: Install the New Parts
During this step, you’ll be installing the new parts that come with the Ender Extender Kit. These are larger versions of some of the parts you removed in the previous step, and they should be installed in the same locations.
- Begin by attaching the new extrusions in their respective locations. Ensure that they’re securely fastened.
- Install the new larger belts. Make sure they’re properly tensioned to avoid print issues later on.
- Mount the new LCD brackets and secure the LCD in place.
- Go through the included instructions to make sure you’re not missing any of the new parts.
Step 3: Reassemble Your Printer
Now that you’ve installed the new parts, you’ll need to reassemble your printer. This means putting all the original parts back, except for those that have been replaced by parts from the kit.
- Start by reinstalling the motors back in their original locations.
- Reattach the PSU securely to the printer.
- Connect the new Bowden tube to the extruder and the hot end.
- Ensure that all parts are securely fastened and no loose screws are left.
Step 4: Configure the Software
This step is all about updating your printer’s firmware and slicer settings to match the new build volume of your upgraded Ender 3.
- Connect your Ender 3 to your computer and launch the firmware editor.
- Modify the X and Y-axis limits to 400 mm to match the new build volume.
- Save and upload the new firmware to your Ender 3.
- Next, launch your slicer program and navigate to the printer settings.
- Adjust the X and Y-axis dimensions to 400 mm in your slicer as well.
- Save the settings and prepare a test print to verify the changes.
Step 5: Post-Installation Checks
After completing the upgrade, it’s time to make sure everything is working as expected. This involves leveling your bed, adjusting retraction settings, and checking that all hardware is functioning properly.
- Start by manually leveling your print bed to ensure the nozzle distance is correct across the larger print area.
- Conduct a test print and tweak your retraction settings if necessary to avoid stringing or oozing.
- Check all the moving parts for smooth operation. If there’s any issue, adjust the tension or alignment.
- Finally, double-check that all screws are tightly fastened and the frame is stable.
By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to expanding the capabilities of your Ender 3, taking on larger projects, and exploring the potential of large-format 3D printing. Happy printing!
Community Opinions and Support
The Ender Extender kit has stirred conversations in the 3D printing community. Despite some concerns over the Bowden tube’s length and the Y-axis build plate’s stability, many users are intrigued and satisfied with the results of the upgrade. If you’re considering this upgrade, joining the Ender Extender Facebook group can be beneficial for support and shared learning.
The Ender Extender kit is available for purchase directly from Ender Extender, with the 400 x 400 mm kit priced at just under $150.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the default bed size of an Ender 3 3D printer?
The default bed size for an Ender 3 3D printer is 235 x 235 mm.
What does the Ender Extender upgrade kit offer?
The Ender Extender upgrade kit is designed to extend your Ender 3’s print bed from 235 x 235 mm to a significantly larger 400 x 400 mm, allowing you to create bigger 3D prints.
How much does the Ender Extender upgrade kit cost?
The Ender Extender upgrade kit for expanding your Ender 3’s bed size to 400 x 400 mm costs just under $150. The company offers other kits as well, and prices vary depending on the specific kit.
Are there any drawbacks to upgrading the Ender 3 bed size?
Certainly, there are several disadvantages to take into account when increasing the Ender 3 bed size. Longer bed heating times, increased Y-axis stepper motor weight, potential retraction troubles brought on by a longer Bowden tube, and the potential requirement for more wires for other electronic component upgrades are a few of them. Moreover, only a bed mounting structure is included in the kit rather than a real bed.
Where can I buy the Ender Extender upgrade kit?
Direct purchases of the Ender Extender upgrade kit can be made through the Ender Extender website.
Is it difficult to install the Ender Extender upgrade kit?
Despite being more difficult to install than standard Ender 3 upgrades, the Ender Extender upgrade kit can be installed successfully with care and patience. It is advised to adhere to the manufacturer’s thorough installation instructions.
Where can I get support or learn more about the Ender Extender upgrade?
Consider joining the Ender Extender Facebook group for user support and information on the Ender Extender upgrade. You can get in touch with Ender Extender through their website to get professional support.
In conclusion, the Ender Extender expansion kit offers a creative remedy for the Ender 3 bed size restriction. The option of a larger bed size makes it a worthy investment for anyone looking to push the boundaries of their 3D printing projects, even though the installation and adjustments can require some patience.
We hope you find this guide to increasing the size of your Ender 3 bed valuable and informative. It’s always exciting to expand the capabilities of your 3D printer!
We’d like to hear about your experiences. Have you used the Ender Extender kit yet? What are your thoughts, struggles, and victories? Please share your experiences, questions, and insights in the comments below. Sharing your experience allows us to learn and progress in our 3D printing journeys.
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