Step-by-Step Guide for Installing Direct Drive on Ender 3 (V2/Pro)

Step-by-Step Guide for Installing Direct Drive on Ender 3 (V2/Pro)

The Creality Ender 3, Ender 3 Pro, and Ender 3 V2 have proved to be incredibly popular FDM 3D printers, offering a great balance of low cost and high quality. If you’re lucky enough to own one of these machines, however, then it’s important to be aware that they use a Bowden drive system. 

This system works by guiding the filament through a long tube made of PTFE (which is Heat Resistant PolyTetraFluoroEthylene). This can sometimes cause issues with retraction settings; when they are not configured correctly you can experience notorious problems such as stringing or clogging.

Upgrading to a direct drive extruder could be the gateway to a whole new kind of 3D printing experience. Not only will you have an easier time working with flexible materials, but you can also enjoy improved extrusion and better-quality prints overall. 

Direct drive extrusion is mounted directly on the print head, resulting in stronger pressure when pushing filament compared to Bowden extruders. Additionally, faster filament retraction speeds are achievable due to the reduced distance between the extruder and nozzle. A weaker motor can be used making it cheaper and more energy efficient, making it friendlier on the wallet and environment.

Step-by-Step Guide for Installing Direct Drive on Ender 3

Installing a direct drive system on your Ender 3 (Pro/V2) isn’t difficult, but it’s important to make sure you’re well-prepared before you begin. It’s best to gather all the materials and tools you need beforehand and read our thorough tutorial before getting started. 

We understand there are various versions of the Ender 3, so we provide specific guidance when needed. What’s more, although this tutorial covers one method, there are other approaches to exchanging the extruder system. 

The Necessary Supplies

A wide variety of kits are available in the market that can be used to transform an Ender 3 (Pro or V2) into a direct drive system. Two trusted and widely used options come from Fargo 3D Printing and Micro Swiss. While the former offers an option for just around $40, the latter is slightly more expensive at $100; however, that sacrifice in price comes with added features like an all-metal hotend, or even an improved nozzle. There are also other variants on the market – all of which promise to make your Ender 3 a more reliable and efficient machine.

However, It is essential to check exactly which version of the Ender 3 your kit can work with seeing as different variations such as the V2 have slight differences in their carriages. For instance, in this case, you might need to modify a part or buy a separate bracket in order for everything to fit properly and run smoothly. 

This tutorial will take you through a step-by-step guide to set up your 3D printer at a fraction of the cost you may otherwise be expecting. All you need is one purchase and some basic tools that are already included with the Ender 3, as well as one 3D-printed part. 

This setup is ideal for those looking for an economical option without sacrificing performance, providing the same features of a more expensive kit but with only minimal effort on your end. So if you’re interested in setting up your own direct drive system with ease, don’t hesitate to give this low-cost DIY installation a try.


  • Set of Allen keys
  • Two-sided wrench


When shopping for a longer cable, it’s important to pay attention to the wiring configuration. Making sure the colours match your current setup can save a lot of time and trouble during installation. To be safe, aim for a length between 45-60 cm. If you end up buying an unnecessarily long cable, no worries! You can always just cable-tie the excess to your printer’s frame and save yourself some space too.

Printing a 3D bracket is an efficient and cost-effective way to make sure that you have the perfect fit without taking too much time or effort. It requires very little filament, so it won’t break your budget either. PETG is recommended for its strength, but be sure not to set the infill density too high as this could result in ringing or vibrations on your print, negatively impacting the overall quality of the print.

In the past, successful print settings have included a layer height of 0.2 millimetres and an infill density of 40 per cent. Also, it is recommended to make use of supports while printing models that are very complicated, in addition to applying a brim for the purpose of adding additional bed stickiness.

Detailed Walkthrough

Before you start make sure that your 3D printer is turned off and that it does not have any filament loaded into it.

  1. Pull the plug on the wire that connects the extruder to the extruder, but keep the wire attached to the mainboard. This will be replaced at a later time.
  2. Then, disconnect the PTFE tube from the feeder end and the PTFE couplers from the hot end.
  3. Remove the extruder feeding system’s motor and bracket using a small and medium-sized Allen key. Be careful not to let the extruder motor fall when you take out the final screw. Save these pieces aside for later.
  4. In order to access the screws that cover your fan and any auto-bed-levelling sensors (such a BLTouch), you will need to use a small Allen key. The case of an Ender 3 V2 can be easily removed by removing a single screw in the fan shroud.
  5. Remove the two eccentric nuts on the upper half, which roll the X-axis carriage along the extrusion, using a bigger Allen key and your two-sided wrench. Remember to keep the belt clips on at all times. You can put the bearings, eccentric nuts, and spacers to one side.
  6. Position the bracket that was manufactured using the 3D printer so that it covers the X-axis carriage. You’ll need to give it a push in order to get it to snap into position.
  7. Fasten the two s
  8. Remove the two screws that are attached to the carriage and are holding the hot end in place. After taking it off, screw the PTFE coupler only onto this end for the time being. You shouldn’t yet rejoin the hot end.
  9. Mount the motor in the 3D-printed bracket with the cable port pointing up, as seen in the bigger image above. Make sure all four screws are in place before you attempt to attach your feeder system to the opposite side of the bracket. The PTFE coupler’s threaded end should always be pointing downward.
  10. Put your PTFE coupler on the motor end (the end that goes into the feeder).
  11. You can use your new, longer cable to replace the original one that came with the extruder’s stepper motor. For this, you’ll need to remove the cover and gain access to the motherboard by taking the printer upside down and unscrewing the screw beneath the bed. There should be access to the stepper motors for the X, Y, Z, and E (extruder) axes. Connect your new cable to the extruder using this final available port.
  12. CYou may test if the length of the PTFE tube you cut to be 10 centimetres is adequate by inserting it down the hot end and bringing the end of the tube up close to the screw holes you used to connect it. Cut off a little section of the tube if it is too lengthy. (If it’s still too long, you may always trim it down further.) Continue this step until the length of your tube reaches all the way from the coupler on your feeding system to the bottom of your hot end.
  13. Put the PTFE tube back in the feeder system and reconnect the heated end to the X-axis carriage.
  14. Replace the fan shroud and reattach it. Attach a BLTouch sensor or any other type of bed levelling sensor on top of the fan shroud rather than behind it if you have one. When you are through, the arrangement ought to resemble the picture that is located at the very top of this post.

As a side note, the size of the fan shroud has caused some problems for customers who have upgraded their Ender 3 V2s with a Micro Swiss direct drive extruder. If you’re using a V2 and thinking about going this way, researching how other people dealt with the same problem is an excellent idea.

Troubleshooting and Initial Adjustments

After the hardware has been set up, there are a few items to double-check and adjust before you can begin printing.

  • Tighten or loosen your eccentric nuts: Ensuring proper X-axis carriage tension is important for quality 3D prints. To test the tension of your extrusion, move the carriage across it and check that all three roller bearings are rolling smoothly. If they aren’t, adjust the eccentric nut until the bearings start to move freely yet without being loose. Allowing too loose an adjustment could lead to ringing and poor print results, so it’s important to find a balance between stability and smoothness.
  • Change the retraction levels: If your 3D prints are suffering from too much stringing, you can adjust your slicer settings to reduce it. Retraction helps reduce stringing and should be set at 1 mm with a speed of around 27 mm. Although raising the retraction settings can be beneficial, it is important to remember that too much retraction can cause nozzle jams, so only raise the speed slightly. 
  • Make sure the hot end fan is always on: This setup using 3D printing means that materials are more prone to melting at higher temperatures since they are not as stable as mass-produced parts. A fan helps significantly cool down the printed item while also keeping airflow consistent and running throughout the entire printing process. 
  • Lower your print speed: If you want the best in print quality, it’s important not to set your printer speed too high. Printing too quickly can place too much weight and pressure on the nozzle, resulting in lower-quality prints, smudges and other imperfections. To avoid this problem, take things slow and steady. If you find yourself getting consistent results and reliable performance from your printer, you may be able to start increasing the speed a little at a time. 

Congratulations, you have made it to the finish line! With your new settings loaded up into the next model, all that is left to do is hit print. 

Useful Hints

 Below is a list of helpful hints and suggestions for your brand-new direct drive system:

  • Better position your filament:  To get the most accurate 3D printing with an Ender 3, many users opt to move their filament spool on a perpendicular axis in relation to the X-axis of the printer. Doing this creates less tension on the motor and prevents any problems that can arise from too much stress on that one part. 
  • Recalibrate your bed levelling: Maintaining a proper nozzle-bed distance is key for consistent and quality 3D printing. When any new modification or addition of extra weight is added to the hot end, it is necessary to re-calibrate the auto-bed leveller so that the nozzle and bed can remain properly aligned for that optimal distance.
  • Recalibrate your E-steps: If you’ve recently changed out your hot end or added any extra components, such as a BLTouch auto bed-leveller, it’s important to perform a full recalibration before continuing as any variation in weight can affect the nozzle-to-bed distance. 
  • Check your belts: It can be intimidating to have your X-axis belt come off during a setup for any 3D printer, but don’t worry about it with the Ender 3 V2! All you need to do is loosen the belt tensioner on the left side and reattach it to the X-axis carriage, followed by reattaching it to the belt tensioner. To make sure you’re able to comfortably line everything up, pull a little bit when needed – just don’t forget to get that tensioner nice and tight after you’ve finished! If you want extra assurance that your belts are all set, grab an Allen key and poke them lightly; if they bounce more than a few millimetres upon contact, simply rotate the knobs on each axis until you’ve achieved the desired belt tension.
Ganesh Divte

I am Ganesh Divte. I work as a Quality Assurance Engineer at Dhruvtara WireTech PVT LTD. I have experience in SLS, DMSL, FDM, and SLA additive manufacturing processes. I am very enthusiastic about additive manufacturing and its potential to change the way we manufacture products. I believe that Additive Manufacturing has the potential to revolutionize the manufacturing industry and make it more efficient and sustainable.

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