Ender 3 Filament Guide: Ender 3 Settings for PLA, ABS, PETG, TPU 

As we know, Creality Ender 3 is one of the most popular and highly efficient printers in the 3D world. Some of the factors like performance, price, user-friendliness, and flexibility for DIY upgrades make it stand out from the crowd. 

On the other hand, Creality ender 3 is also capable of printing different types of filaments. In this blog, we will discuss the filaments handled by Ender 3 and their settings needed to achieve optimal prints. Some of the settings such as print speed, temperature, retraction, and cooling. etc will be discussed. 

Speciality Ender 3 Nozzle – An Upgradable Super Part!

The Creality Ender 3 is usually supplied with a Brass Nozzle. This sets a limitation to printing with unusual materials such as Wax or different plastic filaments. One of the biggest advantages of Ender 3 is it allows you to experiment with various types of filaments by upgrading the Nozzle. 

The Brass Nozzle stops working while printing with abrasive filaments like wood or metal after printing for a certain duration. However, a Nozzle up-gradation is essential in order to print with these kinds of materials. 

In order to print abrasive filaments like carbon, metal, or wood, a special carbide nozzle like Micro Swiss – TwinClad XT is needed. This has a higher tolerance to stubborn materials and can print without any potential issues. 

Filaments for Ender 3

1. PLA Filament For Ender 3

PLA, abbreviated as Poly Lactic Acid, is one of the popular and flexible filaments which has wider usage than other filaments. The Creality Ender 3 is highly compatible with PLA and is totally optimized to print. 

The Ender 3 PLA settings to print are as follows:

  • Cooling: Needed 
  • Ender 3 PLA Print Speed: 59-60mm/s 
  • Retraction Speed: 45 Millimeter / Second
  • PLA temperature of Ender 3 (Extruder): 190 to 220 DegC 
  • Retraction Distance: 5 millimeter 
  • PLA bed temperature ender 3: 20-60 DegC

All of the above technical hardware demands are available on Ender 3 Printer. The Nozzle Temperature can be set exactly in the above-mentioned range 

PLA has a special property that it doesn’t need a hot print bed. Ender 3 supports this demand and also the Ender 3 plate is slightly bendable which makes object removal to be easy. 

It’s recommended to use a Glass plate while printing PLA filament. This ensures that the underside of the print is clear and smooth which is not possible by using the normal printing plate. To achieve good adhesion, sprinkle some hairspray on the glass plate. 

Cooling is needed while printing with PLA Filament. A consistent airflow is needed for fast curing and top-class print results. Refer to the community support in order to understand more about the Cooling parameters. 

As PLA melts at low temperatures compared to others, it gets wrapped between the pushing gear wheels inside the extruder assembly because of the high temperature. When this happens, the filament will not reach the Nozzle anymore. This makes the filament stuck in gear wheels and needs more cleaning and repair work. Thus it’s important to be mindful while setting the hot-end temperature. 

Recycling PLA is not easy, instead, it is better to decompose as it falls under biodegradable plastics. 

2. PETG Filament for Ender 3

PETG abbreviated as Polyethylene Terephthalate is modified with Glycol to get transparent and strong. It finds many applications including beverage bottles due to its transparency.

PETG is one of the different PET plastic types as compared to the popular filaments. Glycol modification to PET will make it strong, heat, and impact resistant. PETG finds its applications in Food Containers and Water bottles.

PETG Print Settings for Ender 3 are as below: 

  • Print Bed adhesion: Needed, along with a release agent.
  • PETG Print speed Ender 3: 60 mm/s max.
  • Retraction height: 5 – 7 millimeter 
  • PETG temperature Ender 3 (Extrusion): 230 – 250 Deg C
  • The temperature of Print Bed: First 2 layers: 110 Deg C, from 5 mm height reduced to 70 °C. 
  • Retraction speed: 40 mm/s minimum
  • Fan Cooling: Needed
  • First layer height on the print plate: 0.3 mm

Can Ender 3 Print PETG? Yes, printing PETG on Ender 3 is possible but it needs to be extruded at very high temperatures in the range of 250DegC. Many PETG manufacturers are setting 240 DegC temperatures for their filaments. Ender 3 can do good work at these temperatures as demanded by PETG.

PETG is prone to get warped but not as high as ABS filament. One of the best ways to avoid warping is to print the initial layers at high temperatures and then reduce them. This bonds the PETG strongly to build the plate. 

Usage of blue painter’s tape in combination with hair spray can be used as an adhesive layer. This makes the object stick firmly to the build plate. Removal of the object is also easy. 

The maximum speed at which the PETG can be printed is 60 mm/s. The quality can be doubled by reducing the print speed by 50% i.e, at 30mm/s. This actually increases the printing time by 50% and reduces the speed. But the quality that we get at the lower speeds is highly satisfactory rather than wasting the filament at higher speeds.

Setting the retraction speed for PETG is tricky. Because of its high temperature it stringes and draws threads. On the other hand, it also can cool down rapidly and blocks the Nozzle which in turn blocks the printing. Retraction is different for different PETG rolls and brands. Test it and determine the correct values.

Usually, retraction can be set between 5 to 7mm. Keep increasing it step by step at the speed of 40 mm/s until you reach the optimum value. Do the increments in 5 mm/s 

The quality of the print object is greatly dependent on the cooling fan system. If the cooling fan is turned on, then details are precisely visible. While if the fan is turned off then the layers will tightly bond with each other. So keep alternating the fan in on/off mode to get the beautiful object.

If you want to print a great component that is used in static applications, then switch off the fan. You will see wonders.

3. TPU Filament for Ender 3

TPU abbreviated as thermoplastic polyurethane can produce flexible and elastic components like rubber. Many users love these elastic and rubber-type components. 

TPU finds its applications in bathtubs, and gaskets used in car servicing. etc

The temperature at which TPU melts is 115 DegC and once printed, post-processing such as smoothening, grinding, and sanding is not possible. Thus Ender 3 settings have to be properly tuned. 

Interestingly, TPU is also used for producing timing belts for timed transmissions and these belts will not get teared as they can expand between 550 to 750%. 

TPU is waterproof and untouchable to grease, oil, and other alkalis. But it melts with alcohol and acids. TPU is hygroscopic in nature, it absorbs moisture when exposed to free air. Moisture TPU can ruin the print results and forms bubbles when heated. 

TPU comes in 3 different types by manufacturers: 

  • Soft/Semisoft
  • Medium
  • Hard

The “Soft” TPU is used for rubber products and can handle a very low load. It is highly elastic and has breaking elongation of up to 550%.

The “Medium” type is most widely used and has good properties. 

Overall, TPU can be used to produce highly interesting products and the applications of these objects are as below:

  • Cushions
  • Door Handles 
  • Power insulators
  • Protection from abrasion.
  • Seals 
  • Slip resistance. 
  • Impact protection 

TPU print settings on Ender 3 are as below:

  • Extrusion temperature: 220 – 240 Deg C
  • Print Bed temperature: 40 – 60 Deg C
  • Print Plate adhesion: Needed
  • Printing speed: Up to maximum 30 mm/s
  • Retraction: as minimal as possible
  • Retraction speed: maximum 30 mm/s
  • Cooling: Needed

Can Ender 3 Print TPU? / How to print TPU on Ender 3?

Yes, Ender 3 can print TPU filament but it demands higher temperatures ranging from 220-240 DegC and Ender 3 has to satisfy this demand throughout the printing. TPU doesn’t need the heated print bed because of its elasticity and there is no issue of warping with TPU. If you compromise on a heated print bed, then keep it to 60 DegC. 

Adhesion of the object can be greatly enhanced while printing with TPU by using the blue painter’s tape and hair spray in combination. 

If you want more flexibility and durability of TPU printed objects, then minimizing the print speed to as low as 30 mm/s is really essential. To print on a safer and quality side, keep the speed at 20-25 mm/s. This produces a higher print quality. 

With TPU, high retraction is not possible because of its elasticity the filament winds up on the Nozzle. Keep the retraction to a minimum and maintain the print speed to overcome the retraction issue.

Cooling while printing is a must for TPU. Use the built extruder blowing fan for cooling purposes. 

4. ABS Filament for Ender 3

ABS abbreviated as acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene copolymer is the first filament in the 3D printing space. It is one of the primary filaments that has set the foundation for the 3D filament space.

One of the biggest advantages of ABS is it is recyclable. Being a thermoplastic polymer, it can be recycled using mini extrusion machines and produce the new filament again. This way, all the misprints, and faulty prints can be re-utilized to build new ABS objects.

The Ender 3 ABS settings to print are as below: 

  • Extrusion Temperature: 230 Deg C minimum 
  • Print Bed Temperature: 80 to 100 Deg C
  • Adhesion assistance: Needed absolutely 
  • Printing speed: maximum 60 millimeter/s
  • Retraction Distance: 5 millimeters per second
  • Retraction speed: 45 millimeter/second
  • Fan cooling: Not recommended

Printing with ABS on Ender 3 / Can Ender 3 Print ABS?

While printing ABS on Ender 3, the Nozzle temperature should be 230 Deg C minimum. While some ABS brands need little more than 230 DegC. There is no patented value, but work around the values and optimize for the best results. 

When ABS solidifies, it creates the Warping Effect because of the bending in the corners due to internal stresses. When the melted material cools down, it contracts and creates the bending effect. This becomes a great problem when printing monolithic components. 

This warping effect can be eliminated by adopting the heated print bed which can heat up to 100 DegC. Be careful while operating with such a heated plate. Use heat-resistant gloves for safety. 

Many measures are essential in order to ensure that the object firmly sticks to the print plate. These measures will ensure that the object will not slip while printing and reduce the warping effect. For additional bonding, some adhesive bondings can be utilized.

The print speed for ABS should not exceed 60 mm/s in order for the quality print output. Allowing the print to cool along with the print bed gradually prevents internal tension and gets solidified evenly. So, switch off the cooling fan when printing with ABS.

5. PVA Filament For Ender 3

PVA, abbreviated as Polyvinyl Alcohol, is widely used in 3D printing. This is a special material and is recommended only for advanced users. 

PVA is used only for printing support structures and nothing else. As PVA is water soluble this makes it popular in printing the support structures. 

Printing PVA on Ender 3 is problematic. If you still want to print something with PVA, then Casting Cores can be printed. Even this would be difficult when it is plastered, as the residual moisture of the plaster will spoil it. 

PVA is not recommended with Single Extruder on Ender 3. A dual extruder is needed to print PVA. At last, if you plan to print casting cores, then use Moldlay wax filament which is easier to handle. 

6. HIPS Filament For Ender 3

HIPS, abbreviated as “High Impact Polystyrene” has a special usage in 3D printing. It falls under the foamed rubber category and can dissolve with limonic acid. HIPS is widely used to produce washable support structures. 

HIPS filament parameters are not readily supported by Ender 3 because of single extruders. While printing HIPS, dual-extruder is needed to print products as well as washable support structures. 

HIPS is very cheap and can also be used as a normal filament. Hence, it is worthwhile to use it for sample models and test prints. 

The major con of the HIPS material is its low resolution. It’s not possible to print objects with finer details due to material properties. HIPS is highly abrasion resistant and stiff as compared to ABS. The warping effect of HIPS is relatively low as compared to other standard filament types which are brittle. A HIPS filament with a density of 1.1mm is almost very light. 

HIPS finds its applications in protective covers, robust components, and Housings is used for Lids due to their good mechanical properties while it weighs low. 

The printing temperature of HIPS is high and needs a supporting extruder with a suitable hot end. 

The HIPS filament printing parameters are as below: 

  • Cooling fan: Not needed
  • Retraction Speed: 45 Millimeter/ Second
  • Printing Speed: Top speed is 60 Millimeters per second. Lesser the better.
  • Print Bed Temperature: 100 Deg C (minimum)
  • Nozzle Temperature: 230 Deg C minimum
  • Adhesion support: Needed 
  • Retraction Distance: 5 millimeter 

HIPS requires high printing temperatures in the range of 230 to 245 DegC for optimal print results. Ender 3 can operate well at this temperature by availing a heated print bed which is needed by HIPS. 

The temperature of the print bed should be between 100 to 115 DegC in order to prevent warping. Better results can be obtained by maintaining the entire print space as warm. But, this is not easy and needs a great effort. 

HIPS looks discouraging as it demands the Glass print bed. A metal print plate is unsuitable because the object sticks firmly to it and removal gets difficult. Glass plate ensures the underside smoothness. Some users also trick it by using temperature-resistant painter’s tape instead of a glass bed. 

Always print HIPS at higher temperatures (both Hotend and Print bed). This minimizes the warping and finishes the object successfully. 

7. Moldlay Wax Filament For Ender 3

Moldlay is one of the well-known wax filament used in 3D printing. Usage of the Wax Filament is limited to printing the Casting Cores. Mostly, tin is used as a casting material while printing the Casting Cores. 

Moldlay is slightly expensive and can be printed at low temperatures. It is easier to handle. Moldlay can also be used to make Silicone mold used for tin casting. 

Ensure to melt the casting core prior to casting the metal and let the hollow mold to get cooled. Once it cools, you can then clean it. Use Isopropyl alcohol for cleaning. 

The biggest advantage of the Moldlay wax filament is that it doesn’t require a UV chamber for curing. 

You can also print aluminum apart from the tin. Aluminum has a casting temperature of 600 DegC and this can be handled on Ender 3. You need some add-on upgrades and protective gears while printing aluminum and copper. 

The Moldlay wax filament printing parameters are as follows: 

  • Printing Nozzle temperature: 170 – 180 Deg C
  • Printing bed temperature: Not required 
  • Print speed: 35 – 100 millimeters per second

Wax filament has high adhesive strength and needs no additional settings for adhesion. After printing, just bend the plate and the model get dispatched from the plate in a moment. 

8. Wood Filament For Ender 3

When printing the wood filaments on Ender 3, similar problems will arise as with metal filaments. 

The wood particles are heavy that the brass nozzle can’t handle. Adjust/change the nozzle in order to avoid mess-ups. Objects printed with Wood filaments are interesting with their warm look and natural colors. Post-processing such as sanding is easy and they appear like wood products.

If you are printing too many wood filaments on your Ender 3, then usage of Formfutura easy wood filaments with a 1.75 mm diameter is recommended. It comes in 4 different colors and can be combined if needed. 

Wood filaments come with many pros such as cheap prices due to low density. On one roll of wood filament, you will get 500 meters in length. Hatchbox has set the following printing parameters for its wooden filaments:

  • Printing temperature: 180 – 220 Deg C
  • Print Plate Temperature: 0 Deg C (No heating required)

All the other parameters are the same as PLA.

9. Metal Filament For Ender 3

Many 3D users won’t suggest metal filaments be used on Ender 3. However, it can be safely used with certain conditions in place.

The Ender 3 comes with a brass nozzle as a default. Brass Nozzle reaches its peak melting temperature while printing metal filament which is highly abrasive. 

When this happens, the Nozzle tears out and produces faulty results. Thus, in order to handle the metal particles in the filament well, the usage of hard chrome plated nozzles is recommended. 

Apart from the Nozzle, even the feeders need to be upgraded to handle the metal. There are a lot of dynamic innovations and products being released around handling the metal filaments which can impress the 3D users.

Although metal/copper filament looks cheaper on a per kilo basis, it contains only 130 meters of filament length. More the copper content, the lesser the filament length. Thus, metallic filaments are highly expensive as compared to ABS/PLA filaments. 

The printing parameters of the metallic filaments are almost the same as that of PLA or ABS. However, metallic filaments are a mixture of plastic and metal. During extrusion, only plastic is melted and not the metal molecules. This makes the printing parameters ideal as other filaments. On the other hand, metallic filaments boast amazing properties. It is easy to post-process them like sanding without any issue. If you want high-gloss polishing, that is also possible. 

The printing parameters for metallic filaments are as follows: 

  • Printing temperature: 210 Deg C
  • Printing speed: 30 – 60 millimeters per second
  • Print bed temperature: 60 Deg C

The Creality Ender 3

Ender 3 from Creality is a powerful 3D printer at an affordable price. Its performance is highly glorified than that of Ender 2. It can produce amazingly detailed prints because of its large construction volume of 220 x 220 x 250 mm³ and a layer height of 1/10 millimeter.

The build quality of Ender 3 is great, it is beginner-friendly, easy to operate, and easy to assemble. Ender 3 has features for both beginners and advanced-level 3D users. 

The Ender 3 has a great community due to its great penetration in the market. There are many discussion forums and free resources available for download. 

Most of the free downloadable models for Ender 3 are enhancements and upgrades that can amplify its performance offering great conveniences. Starting from the Filament Guides, and Ventilation to optimized housings – these upgrades can make the Ender 3 a powerful machine. 

Ender 3 Operation is simple and user-friendly. It is supplied with a user manual with detailed instructions to assemble the printer. Apart from this, assembly instructions are also printed on an SD card which shows step-by-step detail. Bursting out your first print on Ender 3 is breezing. The product will also come with powerful software which is easy to use too. Using this, you can design the models, process the imported files, and even scan the other 3D objects.

The Ender 3 community has put out a lot of informative videos on the internet. Leverage them for optimal usage. 

Many people also criticize Ender 3 for silly reasons such as screws falling off, and unclean workmanship. etc. It’s important to know that expecting a gold standard for its price is not a viable option. Because of its popularity, replacement parts and upgrades are easily available. 

The Ender 3 has become one of the best 3D printers because of its price, easy operation, and huge community. 

Conclusion: Perfect Device for 3D Experimentation

The Creality Ender 3 is a cheap printer with great capabilities. It can process any filament without much hassle. It can be easily used to print abrasive filaments such as wood, metal, and copper. etc. If you are looking to start your printing journey and experiment, then Ender 3 is a go-to device. 

We tried to put out all the Ender 3 capabilities in detail. If you are yet to buy a 3D printer and are researching it, we recommend you to go for Ender 5 which offers the same features as that Ender 3 with a larger build space. 

Gunaseelan Murugesan
Author | Website

Experienced Project Engineer with a demonstrated history of working in the field of Product Design & Development industry in Mechanical Engineering. Skilled in 3D Printing and Re engineering Technologies with CATIA V5 , Materials Science, Finite Element Analysis (FEA), Mimics, ANSYS Workbench and Casting Simulation software. Strong engineering professional with a Master’s Degree focused in Industrial Metallurgy from PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore.

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