Ender 3 Filament Guide, What Filaments Can Ender 3 Use?

Getting to know how to use your printer starts with learning about the different filaments you can work with. This Ender 3 filament guide will help you decide which type works with the popular Ender 3 3D printer and about some of the most efficient ways to feed filaments. There are many types of filaments compatible with the Ender 3; find out which one works best for your next project.

What is an Ender 3 3D Printer?

The Ender 3 3D printer is one of the most in-demand printers these days. It’s easy to use, easy to set up and has good features that fit beginners and professional hobbyists alike. The Ender 3 is a high-precision printer designed to quickly heat up for perfect filament material delivery. It has resume printing features that let you get back to where you left off after a power interruption.

  • Dimensions: 8.7 x 8.7 x 9.8 inches, 17.64 pounds
  • Power Supply: with a branded power supply
  • Circuitry: industrial-grade circuit
  • Ender 3 Max Temp/Ender 3 Max Bed Temp: 240 degrees Celsius
  • Heating Time: 5 minutes to reach 110 degrees Celsius
  • Extruder Type: plastic MK8
  • Supported File Formats: OBJ and STL
  • Compatible Materials: 1.75 mm filaments TPU, PLA, and ABS
  • Ender 3 Print Speed: 180mm/second
  • Ender 3 Bed Temperature: 110 degrees Celsius
  • Special Features: resume printing, enhanced extruder, upgraded wheels, V-shape design
  • Release Date: March 27, 2018
  • Warranty: 1-year warranty on major parts, 3 months for the extruder kit

The Ender 3 is a part of Creality’s Ender 3D printer series. A newer version of this printer is the Ender 3 Pro with an updated extruder system, magnetic hotbed, MeanWell power supply, and other enhanced features.

What is a filament in a 3D printer?

Filaments in 3D printers are plastics or polymers (also called thermoplastics) which melt when heat is applied. Compared to other types of plastics that burn when exposed to heat, filaments only change shape so these can be molded and shaped into different forms.

Related: How to Change Filament on Ender 3 3D Printer

Filaments are fed through a heating unit found in the extruder assembly of the 3D printer. The heating unit heats the filament until it melts and afterward squirts it through a metal nozzle. The extruder moves and follows a path that’s programmed in a 3D file. The 3D object is created using the melted filament one layer at a time.

Most basic 3D printers have one extruder, like the Ender 3 but others have dual-extruders that can print anything in many colors or use different kinds of filaments.

Interested: https://makemendel.com/petg-vs-pla/

What filaments can Ender 3 use?

Ender 3 is one of the most versatile 3D printers as it can work with almost any type of filaments to create all kinds of projects. Here are the most popular types of filaments

PLA (polylactic acid)

PLA is the most common printing filament and is the most recommended one for the Ender 3. Printing with PLA is the easiest, less stressful, and brings the most fun! The Ender 3 was made for PLA printing. Take note of the following Ender 3 PLA settings:

  • Temp Range for Extruder: 190 to 220 degrees Celsius
  • Printing Speeds: 60 mm per second
  • Retraction Speeds: 45 mm per second
  • Retraction Distance: 5 mm
  • Cooling Needed: yes
  • Available Colors: different colors
  • Available Sizes: FDM 3D printing sizes are 1.75 to 2.85 mm
  • Special Features: does not need a heating bed, should use a glass plate, low melting temperatures, hard to recycle but biodegradable
  • Where to Buy: you can buy from many online suppliers

All these basic filament specs are followed by the Creality Ender 3. The temp of the Ender 3 nozzle tip is just the right range to work with PLA. You’ll notice that compared to other filaments, PLA does not require a heated bed. PLA can easily work with a bed with regular temperature but not a very cold printing bed. The Ender 3 has a heated bed but is flexible as you can turn the feature off if you’re working with PLA filaments. This is why there is no PLA bed temperature Ender 3 settings.

The Ender 3 plate may seem perfect but it also has its disadvantages. It creates an uneven underside which is why it’s best to use a glass plate when working with PLA so that the underside of the item is smooth like a mirror. Most users spray the glass plate with a bit of hairspray to improve its adhesiveness.

PLA comes in many types and sizes. The best PLA for Ender 3 type depends on the temperature range so be sure that the type you’re working with fits the temperature range of the printer. All PLA filaments need cooling which is why a print should be provided with an even airflow. The fan located near the extruder helps cool the print to create top-quality print results. It’s important to remove or open the printer casing (if you have one) to allow airflow to cool the print. Problems may arise if you overlook good airflow.

A common problem of poor airflow is clogging as PLA filaments have very low melting points. An enclosed printer can trap heat inside the housing which can heat the gears and increase the temp of the extruder component. The filament can wrap around the gear and become trapped; you need to take your 3D printer in for repair and costly cleaning.

As we mentioned, the Ender 3 is optimized to work with PLA and thus, there are always new files available for download. Recent files for PLA projects include topics like filament cooling and ventilation. Follow PLA print settings and PLA filament settings to ensure the best results.

Read: https://makemendel.com/ender3-vs-ender3-pro/

ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene copolymer)

ABS is another common filament material in 3D printing and is a popular choice for Creality Ender 3 filament. Acrylonitrile-butadiene styrene was the very first consumer-available filament for 3D printers. But the fascination for ABS was short-lived as pretty soon, users found many disadvantages. ABS requires the user to stick all the important filament parameters because if these are overlooked, problems may arise such as crooked printing or problems with filament extrusion. Check out these Ender 3 ABS settings:

  • Temp Range for Extruder: 230 degrees Celsius
  • Temp Range for Bed: 80 to 100 degrees Celsius
  • Plate Adhesion Support: yes, very important
  • Printing Speeds: 60 mm per second
  • Retraction Speeds: 45 mm per second
  • Retraction Distance: 5 mm
  • Cooling Needed: no
  • Available Colors: different colors available
  • Available Sizes: 1.75 to 2.85 mm
  • Special Features: 100% recyclable, warps when it’s solidifying, contracts when the material cools, requires an adhesive bed, slow printing speeds
  • Where to Buy: available in different sizes and colors online

You can use the Ender 3 to print Ender 3 ABS projects however, you must consider fine-tuning your printer. You need to access the printer’s main menu, adjust the temperature of the extruder and bed and make sure that everything is in the right setting before you start printing.

Compared to PLA, ABS is recyclable and 3D printer manufacturers are introducing new mini-extrusion equipment to create new filaments from old ABS materials. Although this ABS recycling equipment is expensive, you’ll save a lot of money in the long run as you can recycle your waste and prints.

This filament material needs to be hot printed at 230 degrees Celsius. Most experts say that you should work near the maximum temperature value of 250 degrees Celsius to get the best results. There is a thing called the “warping effect” in ABS. This phenomenon is present when the ABS print is starting to solidify as the hardened and brittle filament material starts to cool. Parts of the print may bend because of imbalanced internal stress.

In printing ABS on Ender 3, you can avoid the warping effect by using a heated bed. However, you must be careful when you reach 100 degrees Celsius as this means that the table is very hot (boiling). You should always use thermal-resistant gloves when handling a hot printing bed.

The print should adhere to the table to prevent slipping while printing. An adhesive head can also give you a good bonding surface. You should give ABS time to print. You must wait till your printer is at the right temperature before you print and you must also wait until the print gradually cools to avoid internal stress.

A heated bed will cool the print very evenly so the results will not look crooked. Don’t switch on your fan so cooling happens gradually and efficiently.

PETG (polyethylene terephthalate variant)

PETG is a regular PET variant and is used to make water bottles and drink bottles. PETG has the combined properties of ABS and PLA and therefore printing is easier and more precise compared to using PLA or ABS alone.

  • Temp Range/Ender 3 Temperature Settings: 230 to 250 degrees Celsius
  • Bed Temp Range: 110 degrees Celsius for the first layers. Layers higher than 5 mm will need 70 degrees Celsius
  • Plate Adhesion: needed but use a release agent
  • Printing Speeds: 60 mm per second
  • Retraction Speeds: minimum of 40 mm per second
  • Retraction Distance: 5 to 7 mm
  • Cooling Needed: yes
  • Available Colors: available in many colors
  • Available Sizes: 1.75 to 2.85 mm
  • Special Features: needs a very hot print, will warp, use a loose base layer, higher printing speeds
  • Where to Buy: Available in online stores and shops

PETG is one of the common Ender 3 filament types. To use PETG, your printer must work up to 250 degrees Celsius but lately, new PETG filaments can be used at 240 degrees Celsius. This temperature range can be handled by the Ender 3 3D printer. Just like ABS, PETG can warp but not as extensively as ABS. Therefore it’s a must to let the base layers stick very well and everything should be straight using a hot, adjustable printing bed. When the base layers are ready, you can reduce the temperature without encountering further problems.

You can’t just place a PETG print on a heating table. You must use an efficient adhesive layer made of painter’s tape (the blue tape) and a small amount of hairspray. As you print, the solid part of the PETG material will adhere to this layer very securely but can be easily removed when the project is complete.

Printing speeds using PETG vary. You can go for a 60 mm per second speed if you don’t want to add pressure on the outer section of the print. You can reduce speeds up to 30 mm per second to get the best results. This may delay printing time but you won’t have to worry about wasting your filament because of poor printing results.

You can’t discuss PETG filament without mentioning retraction. Because you need to use high temperatures to work with PETG, the material can drip and turn into threads. This will also cool down very quickly so pulling back can create a drop from the hot end. This can block the printing. It’s best to determine the right retraction for every project you do use PETG filament.

Use a good cooling system. When the fan is on, you can see the details of your prints. But with the fan turned off, the layers will bond better. So consider a balance when applying air to your PETG project. Use a base layer when you’re printing. You should place the base layer very loosely so the melted material won’t glide to the heating plate and press the project down. Remember, steady the base layer first before reducing printing distance and temperatures.

TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane)

Soft, workable rubber; these are words to describe TPU or thermoplastic urethane. This filament material allows hobbyists to make rubber toys, gaskets, and many kinds of components. TPU requires careful adherence to its operating temperatures and printer conditions. Overlooking these can lead to the deformity of your prints. TPU is considered one of the best filaments for Ender 3.

  • Temp Range: 220 to 240 degrees Celsius
  • Temp of Printing Bed: 40 to 60 degrees Celsius
  • Printing Speeds: up to 30 mm per second
  • Retraction Speeds: up to 30 mm per second
  • Retraction Distance: minimal
  • Cooling Needed: yes
  • Available Colors: all colors available
  • Available Sizes: 1.75 to 2.85 mm
  • Special Features: elongation up to 750%, waterproof, oil and grease resistant, alkali resistant, dissolves in acids or alcohol, should start as dry, will attract water (hygroscopic property), store in a dry container with silica gel or salt, available in soft/semisoft, medium and hard versions, high melting temperature, will not warp
  • Where to Buy: available in most online 3D printer filament stores

TPU has a high heat resistance and is impossible to rework. Therefore, you should adjust your 3D printer correctly before you start working. This filament is waterproof when the project is complete. It’s resistant to grease, oil, and alkali but can be vulnerable when exposed to acids and alcohol.

Unused TPU filaments should be kept in a very dry container as the raw material is hygroscopic. When TPU is soaked, the results will develop bubbles. It’s best to place the TPU inside an airtight container. Place silica gel inside to keep away moisture.

You can buy TPU in three kinds: soft or semisoft, medium and hard. Soft TPU is for low-load products. This is the most elastic type and with the lowest breaking-elongation value of 550%. Medium TPU is very common and has the regular properties of rubber.

Related: TPU Filaments for 3D Printing Guide

TPU has one of the highest melting temps but can be handled by the Ender 3. There’s no need to apply heat on the print bed as this filament doesn’t warp. You can also use a warm 60 degrees Celsius plate. Use painter’s tape and a small amount of hairspray to enhance its adhesion properties. You must power on your cooling fan when printing with TPU.

HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene)

HIPS is foamed rubber and is one of the special Creality Ender 3 filament types in 3D printing. You can’t use the Ender 3 to print with HIPS as this comes with only one printing head. You need a printer with a dual-extruder to print the support and the product using two types of filament.

  • Temp Range: up to 230 degrees Celsius
  • Temp Range of Plate: at least 100 degrees Celsius
  • Adhesion: Yes
  • Printing Speeds: up to 60 mm per second, the slower the better
  • Retraction Speeds: 45 mm per second
  • Retraction Distance: 5 mm
  • Cooling Needed: no
  • Available Colors: available in different colors
  • Available Sizes: from 1.75 to 3 mm
  • Special Features: inexpensive, low resolution, stiffer, resistant to abrasion, less warping, lightweight, demands high processing
  • Where to Buy: available in most thermoplastic filament stores online

HIPS is used to print simple objects. However, it is a low-resolution material and thus, you can’t print fine details on it. It is stiff, resistant to abrasion, and will not warp so much. HIPS has great mechanical properties but is very lightweight.

HIPS needs a high-temperature 3D printer like the Ender 3. It also needs a heated plate. This filament needs a plain printing plate but not bare metal as it can stick to it like glue. The best one is glass but make sure to use painter’s tape and some hairspray. Always print with no fans as this material needs to cool down slowly.

Related: comparison between HIPS vs PVA

PVA (polyvinyl alcohol)

PVA is a highly specialized filament and is only used by professionals. It is water-soluble so it’s not as popular. Ender 3 is not made for PVA filaments as it is a single-extruder type of printer.

Moldlay Wax Filament

Moldlay is a popular wax type of filament. It is very costly but it has a very low density which makes it economical to use.

  • Temp Range: 170 to 180 degrees Celsius
  • Printing Speed: 35 to 100 m per second
  • Available Colors: available in many colors
  • Available Sizes: 17.5 to 2.85 mm
  • Special Features: needs a casting material, needs low temperatures, easy to use
  • Where to Buy: available from online suppliers

It takes time to learn how to print with wax but once you got the hang of it, printing is a snap. It needs casting material to create the best prints. The casting core must be completely melted and then cleaned and cooled down.

You must store unused Moldlay wax in a cool dry place like a refrigerator. Wax has high adhesive strength so there’s no need to worry about adhesion to the plate.

Metal Filaments

A hot end nozzle is required to handle metal filaments. The best type is chrome-plated printer nozzles as chrome can withstand extreme heat and any hard particles found in the filament. Printing parameters for metal filaments are the same as ABS and the best PLA settings.

  • Temp Range: 201 degrees Celsius
  • Temp Range for Heating Bed: 60 degrees Celsius
  • Printing Speeds: 30 to 60 mm per second
  • Available Colors: available in many colors
  • Available Sizes: 1.75 to 2.85 mm
  • Special Features: robust, maybe sanded, can have a glossy finish
  • Where to Buy: available in suppliers online

Wood Filaments

You need to adjust the Ender 3 or any 3D printer before working with wood as it is very abrasive and can ruin your nozzle. Wood filaments are cheap, very economical and prints like PLA.

  • Temp Range: 180 to 220 degrees Celsius
  • Printing Speeds: 60 mm per second
  • Retraction Speeds: 45 mm per second
  • Retraction Distance: 5 mm
  • Cooling Needed: yes
  • Available Colors: different colors
  • Available Sizes: FDM 3D printing sizes are 1.75 to 2.85 mm

How to feed filaments in Ender 3?

To feed filaments to the Ender 3 follow these instructions:

  • Go to the Menu and the Nozzle settings to heat the nozzle. This is also where to adjust the Ender 3 bed temperature PLA filaments.
  • When the printer hotend has achieved the right temperature, press the extruder level to release the filament. Remove any remaining filament and spool.
  • Take the end of the filament material and thread it in one of the holes at the filament spool.
  • Insert the new filament into the extruder.
  • If there is old material, purge it from the system through the menu options.
  • The printer will automatically feed the new material through the nozzle. You must repeat this many times so that any old filament can detach from the tip of the nozzle.

This Ender 3 filament guide will help you use different materials and find the best PLA filament for Ender 3 3D printers as well as other filament types. Ender 3 is an open-source printer. Improve your printing experience by using different kinds of filaments and share with the community.


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