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Have you ever wanted to 3D print something large and only have a Creality Ender 3 with 200mm bed space? If so, you know the pain that comes with splitting a print into multiple sections and then gluing or bolting it together. The good news is a company out of Texas has an economical solution. I present to you, the Creality Ender Extender Kit.
Here Is What You Need In Order To Extend Your Creality Ender 3D Printer
Starting off, you will need to have a few things before you can extend your Ender to absolutely gigantic proportions. First of all, you will need an Ender 3D printer of some flavor. There are kits for the Creality Ender 3, 3 pro, 3 v2, 5, 5 plus, CR10 and its variants as well. This will provide the base, as well as many parts, for the “new” 3D printer. Second, you will need the Creality Ender Extender kit. There are several options to choose from here as well. You can choose to upgrade either the bed size or Z axis height, or both! For my build, I maxed out my Ender 3 Pro’s print size with a whopping 400x400mm bed and 500mm Z height.
For some extras, you may want to do a few upgrades at the same time. I added a Big Tree Tech TFT and a BL Touch, as well as a BTT SKR Mini 3 V.3, a silent motherboard also from Big Tree Tech. I would recommend this due to the need for flashing firmware on the printer. Bonus for the upgraded board, the stepper motors will also be much quieter.
Setup Of The Creality Ender 3D Printer Extender Kit
Unfortunately, the setup instructions are not great. There are several tutorials available online, but it’s a bit of a mixed batch when looking for your specific changes. Finding instructions on how to complete some of the steps is already difficult.
Tear The Creality Ender 3 3D Printer Down Before Building It Up
Disassemble your existing Ender 3 basically down to basically the bare bones. Even many of the wires off the board will be extended to accommodate the new size. Because of this, you will have to cut out a lot of the hot glue that Creality seems to use on their boards. Be sure to label the wires before you pull them off the board! Note, when I say disassembly to just about bare bones, it is just about bare bones! you should be left with just a crosspiece from the original Y axis, and the original footing. Everything else goes, and most of the extrusions will not be reused if the 400XL Ender Extender kit is used.
I recommend laying out everything that you have for the new kit, its good to have either printed out what Ender Extender has, or to have your laptop nearby with the instructions from the guys over at Ender Extender. I suggest doing this somewhere with plenty of space, a spot where you can leave it out a few days.
Ender Extender Kit Bottom Frame Build
I started with the lower frame and bed extension, which was the more labor intensive portion of the build. Use a square to make sure that all 4 corners are square. Having to take this apart once it is built would not be a fun task. There are several options for where you put your UI TFT Screen and main board. I am keeping mine in the stock locations for now.
You also have the option to keep or remove the magnetic bed lining from the original 3D printer bed. I know that I am not going to make this Ender small again, so the magnetic sticker is now gone. The four holes in the new build plate will line up to where the stock Ender 3D printer’s bed mounts were. Thread the mounting bolts through the top of the new bed and the original holes. The cord protector can stay stock, or it can be upgraded to the provided longer support. I opted to change mine out.
A few things to note at this stage as well. First of all, That build area is HUGE. Second, I am going to re-iterate, make sure the frame is square. Third, in order to keep the stock locations, you will have to shimmy the main board housing and TFT lip behind the front extrusion. Do this one side at a time and make sure the whole frame stays square!
Make It Tall Extende The Z Axis
Next, it is time to install the Ender extender extended Z axis. This is fairly straightforward and very similar to the setup on the original Ender 3 Pro body. I highly recommend following the original instructions to make sure the gantry height is level, especially over a 400mm bed size. Better yet, Luke Hatfield has a ton of helpful videos on making sure that it is set up as close to perfect for the best possible results.
Cable Management Time
Finally, it’s time to install all the wires. The kit does come with extensions for the factory wires. A quick heads up for anyone who is replacing the board; the BTT SKR Mini 3 V.3 does have a new connector for the fan to hot end. It is now on a JST rather than just straight connectors to the board. This was done to make it controllable. However, most people will have it run when the printer is switched to the on position.
This step is where I ended up cleaning off all that hot glue mentioned earlier. Creality seriously goes overboard with their glue gun. It was a mess to clean up, but luckily I did not damage anything on removal.
Make sure to double, then triple check that the connections on the bed heating element and 24V power are correct. Last thing you want to do is fry a brand new board. Lastly, once all is plugged in and rerouted, and all looks good, it is time for the firmware flash.
Firmware Needs to be Changed
Part of the reason I went with a new main board on my Ender Extender outfitted Ender 3 Pro was due to the fact that the factory boards are not all that easy to flash. The BTT ones are essentially plug and play at this point. Head over to Github to grab the Marlin source code. You will need to make sure that you change the files in the folder for the boards. Drop in the new V.3 board into the folder if that is the direction you decide to go.
From there, several key places need to change in the firmware when compiling from the ground up. First is the obvious bed and z axis heights, which have changed considerably from the original manufactured Ender 3. If you are adding a BTT TFT, the screen that is used is actually the same in Marlin, so no need to change from the standard CR10 screen in the firmware.
Changing this screen to the touchscreen will require a flash of the memory on that board. If adding the BL Touch, be sure to enable it in the firmware. I have added a few pointers to follow below. These will all be in either the configuration.h or configuration.adv files in Marlin.
I could not get this to print for the life of me after first power on. I had to change the offset every time I started a new print. Every print, I was sitting at the printer and would change the Z-offset to as close as i could get it after leveling the bed and starting the print.
There were several things I tried to change in the firmware to combat this. First, with just setting the z-probe offset to match what was physically measured by calipers. This resulted in crashing into the bed every single time a G1 F60 Z0 command was sent. I changed the homing to be off the z-probe, rather than off the z end stop limit switch, and had similar results.
What eventually found, was that the offset in the firmware of -0.7 was causing the printer to think that the nozzle was always .7 higher than the probe end, even when changing the probe offset on the actual printer interface. Once this was cleared up, the printer was able to pick up and go.
How Does The Creality Ender 3 Print?
The first print, per usual with my prints, was a quick and dirty X, Y, Z calibration cube. This came out looking pretty good, so i went to the second test print, a familiar go to for all, the 3D Benchy. With a printer this size though, a normal 3D Benchy seemed, well, underwhelming. Print #2 ended up being a massively oversized benchy, suitable for testing a massively oversized printer. Extended Benchy printed really well.
No stinging at all, and hardly any bridging issues, even though the top was up-sized to larger than a normal 3DBenchy. I then decided to put the printer through its paces and started a 2 day print for a Settlers of Catan box organizer. It was really nice to be able to print something 300x300mm on a print, and not have to slice and dice into several prints.
Where to buy the Creality Ender Extender Kit?
The Creality Ender Extender team actually has their own website, where you can order directly. They state about 2 weeks for shipping, which held true for my kit. Price point to maximize your Ender 3 Pro is $260, and I ended up adding on a 400 x 400 glass for the bed surface as well for an additional $40, which shipped in the same box as my Ender Extender kit.
Final Thoughts about the Creality Ender Extender
Overall, I would say that if you can get an Ender 3 dialed in to print well, then the Creality Ender Extender is going to be just as easy to dial in and get good prints. If you have a need or want for a large printer, and have some DIY aptitude, this kit is a reasonably priced way to get a very large bed on a capable and well known 3D printer. For about 1/2 the cost of Creality’s CR10 max, you can have a very comparable printer in size and capability.