It was a little over a year ago that I got my first 3D printer. I still remember setting the Ender 3 Pro up. I had a mixture of excitement and caution. It seemed almost overwhelming trying to learn the vocabulary of a new hobby while I was trying to assemble that machine. I think it took me a good part of an afternoon to set that printer up simply because I kept second-guessing myself. I mostly wondered where the screw holes were for frame pieces that didn’t show up well in the manual.
Now fast forward a year. I’m setting up printer number 3 and taking pictures while doing so. The whole process of getting the printer unboxed, setup, and printing took less than an hour. That includes the time I spent taking pictures, complaining about the low lighting in my office, and taking notes for this post.
The rest of this post will show some pictures I took while setting the printer up. I followed the manual and will sort this post according to that same manual. I’m assuming anyone reading this post is only here for the pics, so I do not include the necessary instructions.
1 – Installation of Z-axis limit switch kit and Z-axis profiles
This step is pretty straightforward. The main thing is to be sure to get the holes for the two Z-axis profiles correct. The manual points out the spacing for these holes on each side to make that easier. Below is a picture with the Z-axis profiles and the Z-axis limit switch installed.
Here is a closeup of the Z-axis limit switch installed.
2 – Installation of the Z-axis motor and lead screw.
This step is pretty simple. Place the lead screw into the Z-axis motor and tighten it using the top set screw (the bottom set screw is connected to the motor shaft). The motor will then mount on the metal frame’s backside where the Z-axis limit switch was installed.
3 – Installation of the pneumatic coupler and XE-axis kit
The picture below shows the X-axis profile connected to the X-motor and extruder assembly. Before putting the two screws in, I fed the belt through and around the X-axis motor shaft.
The pneumatic coupler is hooked up, as shown below.
4 – Installation of the nozzle kit and Z-axis passive block
This step looks odd in the manual, but it is pretty straightforward. First, the nozzle kits roll onto the metal profile in the v-slots.
Then the Z-axis passive block goes on. This looks like it is on backward since the wheels don’t go in the v-slots. But those wheels are used later on the Z-axis profile.
Finally, I fed the belt around the end of the Z-axis passive block and connected both ends to slots on the nozzle kit.
5 – X-axis tensioner
This is one improvement I love about this printer compared to my Ender 3 Pro. The tensioners will make adjusting the belts go so much easier (although hopefully, it won’t have to be done often).
The only problem here is that you have to feed the belt through the tensioner. The previous step had both ends of the belt hooked up to the nozzle kit. So, the belt from this side of the printer has to be disconnected to be fed through the tensioner. Below is a picture of me feeding the belt through the tensioner. I did take the little nut off the tensioner to make this easier.
6 – Installation of the X-axis arm and adjusting tensioners
Getting the X-axis on is just a matter of putting the rollers into the v-slots and the lead screw into the lead screw hole. Once the lead screw is in the hold, you might have to turn the lead screw for the X-axis arm to feed down smoothly. When it’s on, it should look level. If it is not level, I would make sure everything is square. If one of the Z profiles is not square, it will impact the X-axis arm’s squareness.
The manual seemed actually to explain tightening the tensioners correctly.
7 – Installing the gantry profile and display
To install the display, I took the profile cover off that is right by where it installs. That makes it easy to get the t-nut installed (I’ve gotten good at working with t-nuts, but I will take an easy way out any time I can). After the display bracket is installed, the display easily attaches to the bracket.
The gantry is an easy install. This is another time to ensure everything is squared. If the gantry isn’t square with the Z- profiles, there is probably something wrong below.
8 – Installation of spool holder, gantry covers, and extruder knob
The extruder knob seats into place on top of the extruder. Replacing this with something cooler looking will be something I will print out soon.
The spool holder is installed on top of the gantry. I put it almost as far left as it will go. The part holding the spool points behind the printer. At the same time, the gantry covers can go on each side.
9 – Hooking up the wires.
This step goes quickly. There are three connections on the X-axis arm. As pictured below: connector E goes into the extruder, connector X goes into the x motor, and connector X goes into the X limit switch.
Straight down from there is where the two Z-axis connectors go. These should be lying under the bed. As pictured, the one on the left goes into the z-axis motor, and the one on the right goes into the Z-axis limit switch.
At this point, you will also want to check the power supply setting. By default, the power supply is set to 230V. For the US, this has to be changed to 115V. Simply move the switch until it shows the correct voltage.
At this point, I took a moment to make sure all nuts and screws were secure. This includes the ones shipped with the printer already installed.
I did find one little problem. The bed had a significant wobble in it. Below is a short video showing the wobble.
To fix this, I tightened the eccentric nuts under the bed. The nuts are on the right side between the wheels and the metal plate under the bed. I only tightened until the wobble stopped.
10 – It’s done!
At this point, the physical install is basically done. I hooked up the power cord and moved it into its new home near my desk.
After powering it on, I leveled the bed and loaded the filament. The first print I did was a TeachingTech Temp Tower. I have never had problems with the filament that comes with Creality printers. But I’ve heard others have. So I thought a temp tower was an appropriate first print.
I was quite happy with this temp tower. The tower printed from 190C to 210C in 5C increments. This was excellent quality for a printer out of the box. No calibration of any type has been done yet (unless you count tightening the eccentric nuts).
There was a little bit of space between the lines in the first layer. I kinda sped through leveling the bed. So I went back and adequately leveled the bed. I printed the dog that comes with the MicroSD card, and it came out beautifully.
This printer is not a replacement for my current Ender 3 Plus. I have different plans for it. This will be the printer that I will use to print ABS, ASA, Nylon, TPU or any other different type of filament. I have a Creality enclosure I will be installing on it. Eventually, I will set it up for direct drive with a Micro Swiss all-metal hotend. I also need to hook it up to a Raspberry PI with a camera to control and monitor the printer via Octoprint. When I do those upgrades over the next couple of months, I’ll share the steps I take on this blog.
Song of the Day: Just Dropped In
I shared a picture of this build on a couple of 3D printing groups. And, of course, they focused on my poster instead of the printer. But this printer does tie the room together. With that in mind, here is Kenny Rogers and the First Edition with an excellent Dude sequence.
Bonus Song – Hotel California
While I have the Big Lebowski in my head, I must hear the Gypsy Kings version of Hotel California. Usually, cover songs of epic songs like Hotel California make me cringe. But the Gypsy Kings did a masterful cover.