Ender 3 Pro Starter Guide

Ender 3 / Ender 3 Pro Introduction - 4.2.2 Motherboard (Or Upgraded 4.2.7 Motherboard)

Welcome to the world of 3D printing

This guide will have you completely set up with the Ender 3 Pro.  It is specifically focused on the Ender 3 Pro with the 4.2.2 Motherboard. I have learned that even Ender 3 now is shipping with the 4.2.2 Motherboard - so a lot of this guide will apply to that as well

When you first receive your printer, these are the main things you have to do to set it up.

Warning: Set It Up Right, Or Set It Up Many Times

I had to redo a lot of work when I first set up my printer.  Through that and helping folks out on Facebook and Reddit, I learned some basic "must do" items when you first set it up, as well as some nice to haves that will make your life easier.

I'll call them out separately in this guide so you know what to expect.

So, here's what I recommend when you get started:

  1. Consider safety precautions
  2. Assemble the printer
  3. Get the basics tuned 
  4. Now, Begin printing things you like
  5. Buy more filament print more things!

Once you have those basics working, I'll also cover

  1. If you like work on advanced tuning and calibrations
  2. If you like, add more upgrades

Safety Considerations

There are a few known changes you can make to your printer to ensure you eliminate some issues with the printer itself.  No electronics are ever 100% safe - even Macbooks had overheating issues!

    I discuss this all in detail on Ender 3 Pro Electrical and Safety Considerations.

    Think About Upgrades Before / During Assembly

    You will get a lot of enjoyment out of upgrading your printer.  You don't need to upgrade everything at once - in fact, out of the box the printer is generally usable, with a couple small caveats

    There are two known weak links: the bed springs, and the weak plastic extruder arm that has a tendency to break. You can get all the parts you need for these simple upgrades in this Ender 3 Upgrade kit.  

    You could do both upgrades anytime. However these in particular are good to do immediately upon assembly because  you'll be putting on these parts either way, and more work/require taking things apart to install later on.  I personally installed both of these when I first assembled my printer.

    I discuss them in detail here - recommended immediate upgrades to Ender 3 Pro with upgrade kit.  All the parts in the kit replace parts as you are assembling your printer anyway - so there are no different instructions, just put the printer together using these better components.

    Optional Upgrades During Assembly

    Optionally, you can also browse the recommended quality of print and life upgrades for Ender 3 Pro.  CR Touch and a PEI Print Surface are the other two I would suggest you do next or soon after.

    At the end of the guide, I'll provide these two links again. From reading groups and forums, I know some folks like to dive right in and install a lot of upgrades right away - if that's you, go ahead. 

    Which upgrades to do now, during install:  As I mentioned, two upgrades you should install from the start are Yellow Bed Springs, Metal Extruder (see recommended immediate upgrades).  The next upgrades I would recommend after that are the CR Touch and PEI Print Surface - these are simple add-ons that will help you with the single biggest issue in 3D printing, getting a nice first layer to stick.

    I have made all of these upgrades to my printer, and the yellow springs and metal extruder I installed during my initial assembly.  I added CR Touch and PEI Print Surface after 2 months, but you could easily add them earlier.  What the CR Touch does is compensate for small hills and valleys in the bed to ensure you have a great first layer. Instead of buying it right away, I started with Manual Mesh Bed leveling. If I had to do it over, I would just get the CR Touch and avoid that hassle.

    Additional Filament

    You should have at least a 1 kg spool to start - your printer will come with a small amount of filament, probably 100-200 grams.   

    If you're buying it online, it may take time to get to you so you may want to consider buying one or two spools now even before you have your printer set up.  Once you have used up your first spool, you'll have a good idea of how fast you're going through filament and how much to order. It is not at all uncommon to see folks with one printer, and share their spool closet with 20 spools of filament - different colors.

    Filament Recommendations for Ender 3 Pro.

    Assembling Your Printer

    If you've just purchased your Ender 3 Pro, it comes partially assembled in the box.  You have everything you need to start printing .

    However, if you are going to install some upgrades, you may want to consider waiting to assemble the printer until you have the upgrades I discussed. 

    If you're ready now, go ahead and head over to Ender 3 Pro Assembly Guide.  Come back when you have a fully physically assembled printer =)

    Firmware Options and Installation

    Your Ender 3 Pro has a 4.2.2 motherboard inside it with pre-installed ("stock") Creality Firmware. 

      If you installed a new motherboard, or the CR Touch, you must install a new firmware. Otherwise you can initially use the firmware it comes with.

      Once you're ready, we have optimized versions of firmware built specifically for the Ender 3 Pro. Head over to the Ender 3 Pro firmware options page to get that, and learn more in depth info on that page about firmware options.

        Get Your Printer Physically Aligned and Calibrated

        You're excited to start printing:  we're almost there.

        I'll share with you just the bare minimum alignment you should do to avoid disaster. 

        After that, you can optionally continue the more in depth tuning if you really want high quality prints - or you can definitely print for a while with the fundamentals tuned.

        Head over to Ender 3 Pro Tuning and Calibration Tips and after that - you're ready to go!  From the same page, you'll also find troubleshooting steps in case your tuning or calibration ended up finding an issue, as well as the link to advanced and calibration.

          Do not skip the basic tuning and calibration steps! If you do, your first print is likely to fail, and if you try to troubleshoot it, will end up spending more time (and likely doing the same steps) as simply tuning your printer the first time.

          Enjoy Printing

          At this point you have a printer that has some safety changes made, has been assembled and calibrated properly, and may have some quality of life upgrades put into it.

          You may also be interested in my Cura GCode Starter Settings. This will set you up to auto home and load your bed mesh with every print. If you set up your manual mesh or CR Touch, this is the settings you need in Cura.

          There are many upgrades you can make in the future, to turn your relatively inexpensive 3D printer into a powerhouse.  You don't have to rush into these - print for a while, learn a little about 3D printing and your printer itself

          Communities to Connect and Meet Folks Online

          One of the best parts of being part of this hobby is meeting wonderful folks online and seeing what they are up to.

          I have a collection of places to learn and connect with people here.

          Nice to Have Upgrades, Purchases, Accessories

          A couple nice to haves, that you don't need to do up front, but are worth doing before you assemble. 

          If you want to invest in some *easy* quality of life upgrades the two I would recommend are the CR Touch and a PEI Printing Surface.  I have both of these and they have improved the quality of my prints as well as 

          I have a full list of additional accessories and beginner to intermediate upgrades for the Ender 3 Pro.

          Longer Term Upgrades and Accessories

          I recommend not making any of these upgrades on for at least a month, and perhaps 3-6 months if you are printing infrequently. However if you want to see how to really push the limits on your printer - I have a whole section on longer term Ender 3 Pro Upgrades

          Get to Know 3D Printer Parts and Terminology

          You've already read some terminology about your printer as we've been putting it together.  This glossary goes over many common terms and parts on your printer are and what they do.  You can skip this section but it will make it easier to understand everything.

          3D Printing Terminology and Glossary of Terms Explained