Creality Ender 3 : Unboxing, assembly and comparison with CR-20

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I introduced you not long ago the new Creality CR-20, the little sister of the CR-10, but the Creality family is very big, I will introduce you today the other little sister the Ender 3!

You will find many tests and reviews on the Ender 3, but you are many to ask me if the CR-20 is better than the Ender 3, which one to choose? So I will make sure to compare these 2 machines when I unpack, assemble and see if there is a real difference in print quality between these 2 machines.

As a reminder we find today the Creality CR-20 at a price around 350€ on Amazon France and Amazon UK Store at £308.98,  and the Ender 3 around 200€ on Amazon FR / on Amazon UK at £199  and 160-180€ on other Chinese sites (The Ender 3 on gearbest at around 160€). The printing surface is the same, so many of you think the CR-20 is too expensive compared to the Ender 3.

Unboxing of the Ender 3

The package is not very imposing, because this Ender 3 is delivered in pre-assembled kit, just like the Creality CR20. As a reminder the CR-20 was delivered in 2 main parts to assemble and a set of accessories.

For the Ender 3, there are more parts to assemble, so the assembly time will necessarily be longer. The accessories supplied with the Ender 3 are numerous just like the CR-20, we find a spatula, a micro sd card + usb adapter, a cutting pliers, spare nozzle, PLA sample… in short like most printers they were not stingy on the accessories.

Assembly of the Ender 3

So you can see that we have a lot more parts to assemble here than the CR-20, so it will take more time to assemble, the instructions are quite detailed, there is no need to be a big handyman.

However, you will have to assemble the belts and different axes here yourself, which can potentially have an influence on the quality of your prints if you do not follow the instructions to the letter. This is probably one of the first points that could justify the price difference between the Ender 3 and the CR-20, for the CR-20, about 15-20min after unpacking I was already printing, for this Ender 3 I do not know yet how much time it will take me, but I can expect 1 hour or 2 hours.

In short, if you are not afraid of assembly, and you are especially looking for a cheap 3D printer while saving as much time as possible even if it means spending more time assembling/adjusting it, this Ender 3 remains a good choice.

If you are more beginner and prefer to avoid any assembly errors and be able to print quickly the CR-20 would be more suitable.

We start by fixing the 2 profiles of the Z axis.

Then we have to fix the LCD screen

The power supply is then fixed

Then the motor and screw of the Z axis

The next step is to assemble the print head carriage and the carriage belt.

Finally, the last step is the connection of the wires.

Overall the assembly is quite well illustrated in the documentation, I did not encounter any major problem, you have to look at the meaning of the different parts in relation to the photos and it should take you about 1 hour.

Crucial moment, after having checked that the switch of the power supply was well positioned on the 220v, one turns on !

Differences between Ender 3 and CR-20

Before going to the settings and first print tests of the Ender 3, now having the 2 machines under the eyes side by side, I can detail you a little more the notable differences between these 2 printers.

First of all the appearance of the 2 machines, we have to admit that the complete integration of the components in the base gives a little sexier side to the CR-20, it’s probably just a detail, but it gives the impression of a professional machine.

But this design, also gives the impression that the CR-20 is better balanced in its structure, for more stability, I would see if this could have an impact on print quality.

Another difference is that on the Ender 3, the buildtak is integrated/glued to the heating plate, while on the CR-20 you have the flexplate/removable surface, which allows the prints to be removed without a spatula by slightly bending the plate. You can probably equip the Ender 3 with the same type of buildtak, or you may prefer to add a glass plate or ultrabase (extra 20-30€ to purchase), but I find this flexible buildtak interesting, and for me that also justifies the price difference.

By turning on both machines, I also notice that the CR-20 is quieter, even without printing, you still have the power supply fans running in both cases. It’s true that I already noticed this point during my CR-20 printing tests, and even when printing, the base remains warm/pretty cold, no noticeable overheating problem (on 10-hour long prints).

I asked the question to Creality about this point, which confirmed to me that the power supply of the CR-20 was of much better quality than the Ender 3 (and even of the CR-10). they integrated a power supply of the brand Meanwell manufactured in Taiwan, I am not either an expert, but it would seem that they improved this point on the CR-20.

Ender 3 settings

Here is my Ender 3 is assembled, it is necessary to check that everything is well stable and the belts tight.

Important step, to level the plate, for that it will be necessary first to make an “auto home” (Prepare > Auto Home) so that the head repositions itself at its initial point, this also makes it possible to check that all the engines are well connected.

Once in Home position, the motors (disable steppers) are deactivated in order to move the head freely.

We have to check if the 4 corners + the center are at the same level, neither too high, nor too low, for that we will use a sheet of A4 paper.

We must preheat our bed before calibrating it, because when heating to print it will expand, so the adjustment must be done hot as well.

For the first print test, you will find on the SD card an example.gcode file, be careful if you use the filament sample supplied with the Ender 3 there will not be enough to make the complete print, so either you can use another filament, or you will have to use another gcode.

Concerning slicer settings, for my part, I use Simplify 3D, using the printer add wizard, I was able to add the “Creality Ender 3”, so I will do my first print tests with this profile.

First print test of the Ender 3

Perhaps most importantly, is the print quality of the Ender 3 as good as the CR-20 (or even the CR-10)? because if you choose the Ender 3 it’s probably for its price and the reputation of the Creality brand. If the CR-20 still hasn’t appealed to you, or if its price remains too high for you…

So it’s time to see how this Ender 3 is good, I’ll print the gcode file provided with the sample filament I had with my CR-20.

The printing of the first layers is perect, I can’t wait to see the final result!

And here it is, I’m rather impressed by the print quality of this Ender 3, at the price of this printer, the quality is really there!

Here is another test print in vase mode with a layer height of 0.20mm, with white PLA (SainSmart) the rendering is very clean.

And a last little print test, this time with a layer height of 0.10mm, still under Simplify3D with the default profile generated by S3D.
With brown PLA SOVB 3D.

Conclusion

The quality/price ratio of this Ender 3 is really very interesting, for about 200€, you have in kit this 3D printer, not too complex to assemble. Once assembled, you end up with a stable 3D printer, with good print quality without any modification, and with simple settings.

This printer would perfectly suit a beginner who wants to discover 3D printing if the assembly of this one does not frighten him.

Compared to the CR-20, which sold for 350€, it is still too early to say which prints best, I would say that the print quality looks similar if you made your settings correctly.

However the CR-20 is assembled in 5 minutes, unlike the Ender 3 where you will need a little more time and patience. The CR-20’s all-assembled structure also gives it a more finished/strong side. The CR-20’s flexible plate is also a good point, convenient to avoid damaging your prints with the spatula.

In short, if you are looking for a cheap 3D printer, and the assembly does not frighten you, this Ender 3 is made for you!

And if you want a more finished product, and your budget allows it, the CR-20 is an excellent choice.

Bonus, a video about the flexplate of the CR-20

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