In the world of 3D printing, where precision and innovation meet, your Ender 3 3D printer is a valuable tool. However, did you know that you can elevate your 3D printing experience and enable unique features by updating its firmware? Firmware updates not only enhance your printer’s performance but also offer access to a world of possibilities that standard factory settings may not provide.
In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of updating the firmware on your Ender 3. Whether you’re a novice looking to dip your toes into the world of firmware updates or an experienced enthusiast seeking to fine-tune your machine, this article is here to help.
Discover how to breathe new life into your Ender 3 as we demystify the firmware update process. We’ll cover the essential steps, offer insights on choosing the right firmware version, and provide troubleshooting tips to ensure a smooth upgrade. Whether you’re looking to fix issues, add exciting features, or simply optimize your 3D printer’s performance, you’re in the right place.
Are you ready to unlock the full potential of your Ender 3 3D printer? Let’s dive in and learn how to take control of your machine’s firmware, one step at a time.
Updating the firmware on your Ender 3 is a straightforward process. Begin by obtaining the suitable firmware for your printer. Next, transfer this firmware onto an SD card and insert the SD card into the printer. If you happen to have an older motherboard, you’ll require an external device to upload the firmware to the printer. In such cases, you’ll need to establish a direct connection between your PC or laptop and the printer using a USB cable.
How to Update/Flash the Firmware on an Ender 3 (Pro, V2, S1)
For the Ender 3 3D printer, one of the most popular and widely used firmware is Marlin, an open-source firmware specifically designed for 3D printers. However, within the Marlin firmware, there are different versions and variants, depending on your specific needs and hardware configuration. Here are some key types and variants of firmware for the Ender 3:
- Marlin Firmware:
- Vanilla Marlin: This is the standard, unmodified version of the Marlin firmware. It’s a versatile firmware that can work with a wide range of 3D printers, including the Ender 3. You can configure it to match your printer’s specifications and customize settings as needed.
- Custom Marlin Builds: Many 3D printing enthusiasts and communities create custom Marlin firmware builds tailored for specific needs. These can include versions optimized for certain features, such as silent stepper motor drivers (like TMC2208 or TMC2209), advanced bed leveling systems, or additional safety features.
- Creality Firmware:
- Creality, the manufacturer of the Ender 3, also provides firmware updates and variants specifically designed for their printers. These firmware versions are typically pre-configured for Creality hardware, making them user-friendly for those who prefer not to delve deeply into firmware configuration.
- Third-Party Firmware:
- Some third-party firmware options may be available for the Ender 3. These are often developed by independent developers or 3D printing communities. These firmware options can offer unique features, improvements, or customization options beyond what’s available in Marlin or Creality firmware.
- Bootloader Firmware:
- In some cases, you might need to install or update the bootloader on the Ender 3’s control board. The bootloader is a small program that allows you to easily flash new firmware to the printer. There are specific bootloader firmware versions designed for the Ender 3.
- Firmware Upgrades for Specific Upgrades:
- If you’ve made hardware upgrades or modifications to your Ender 3 (e.g., adding a BLTouch for automatic bed leveling), you might need to use firmware variants or configurations that are compatible with those upgrades.
- SKR E3 Mini Firmware:
- The Ender 3 can be upgraded with the Bigtreetech SKR E3 Mini control board. If you’ve made this upgrade, you’ll need firmware specifically designed for the SKR E3 Mini board.
- Some users may opt to replace the stock control board on the Ender 3 with a Smoothieboard and use Smoothieware firmware. Smoothieware is an alternative to Marlin, offering a different set of features and configurability.
Updating the firmware on an Ender 3 or Ender 3 Pro involves a preliminary step: installing a bootloader. The presence of a bootloader on your 3D printer’s mainboard determines the ease of tweaking internal settings and performing firmware updates. The process is similar to that of the Ender 3 V2.
Here’s what you need to know:
- The original Ender 3 is equipped with an 8-bit motherboard, necessitating the installation of a bootloader.
- Conversely, the Ender 3 V2 boasts a 32-bit motherboard and does not require bootloader installation.
If your 3D printer lacks a bootloader, you must first install this essential program before proceeding with the firmware update, following the same steps as you would with an Ender 3.
To install a bootloader on the mainboard of your Ender 3 or Ender 3 Pro, you’ll need a few essential components and tools:
- Dupont/Jumper Wires:
- You’ll require 6 Dupont/Jumper Wires, consisting of 5 Female-to-Female wires and 1 Female-to-Male wire. These wires are used to establish connections between your Arduino Uno Microcontroller and your 3D printer.
- Arduino Uno Microcontroller:
- An Arduino Uno Microcontroller is a compact electronic board capable of interpreting programming inputs. It plays a pivotal role in installing the bootloader onto your 3D printer’s mainboard. It usually comes with a USB interface.
- USB Type B Cable:
- You’ll need a USB Type B Cable to establish a connection between your Ender 3 or Ender 3 Pro and your computer. This cable enables data transfer and communication between the two devices.
4. Arduino IDE Software: This software serves as your console or text editor, allowing you to enter commands for processing and taking actions that are transmitted to your 3D printer.
Choosing the Right Firmware
You have the flexibility to choose which firmware suits your needs best for your Ender 3. In the video guide below, you’ll be taken through the process of flashing your Ender 3 with either Marlin firmware or a Marlin-based firmware known as TH3D.
Video Guide for Bootloader Installation and Firmware Flashing
Teaching Tech offers an excellent video guide that simplifies the bootloader installation process and demonstrates how to flash your firmware afterward. This guide will prove invaluable as you navigate these essential steps.
An Alternative Approach with Raspberry Pi
For those seeking a more technical approach, it’s possible to install a bootloader on the Ender 3 using a Raspberry Pi running OctoPi. This method eliminates the need for an Arduino, but you’ll still require jumper cables. The process involves entering commands into a Linux command line.
In the video tutorial below, you’ll discover three different methods for installing the bootloader, including the Raspberry Pi method. This variety ensures you can choose the approach that best suits your preferences and technical capabilities.
With these components and tools, you can proceed to install the bootloader on your Ender 3 or Ender 3 Pro’s mainboard, a crucial step for enabling firmware updates and customizations.
Updating the Firmware on an Ender 3 V2
Begin the firmware update process on your Ender 3 V2 by first identifying the currently installed firmware version. Here’s how:
- Use the LCD screen button on your 3D printer to navigate to the “Info” option.
- Check the middle line of the screen, which displays the firmware version. For instance, it may show “Ver 1.0.2” under the title “Firmware Version.”
- Next, you need to determine whether your Ender 3 V2 has a mainboard version of 4.2.2 or 4.2.7. These different versions require distinct firmware, so you’ll have to inspect the board inside your 3D printer.
- To do this, unscrew the screw on top of the electronics case and the three screws at the bottom to access and identify the motherboard version.
With this information in hand, let’s move on to the steps for flashing the firmware on your Ender 3 V2:
- Visit the official Creality 3D website.
- Navigate to the Menu Bar and select “Support” > “Download Center.”
- Find and select the Ender 3 V2 model.
- Locate the firmware version that matches your mainboard, whether it’s the 4.2.2 or 4.2.7 version. Download the corresponding ZIP file.
- Extract the contents of the ZIP file and copy the file with the “.bin” extension to your SD card. Ensure that the SD card is empty of any other files or media. The firmware file may have a name like “GD-Ender-3 V2-Marlin188.8.131.52-HW-V4.2.2-SW-V1.0.4_E_N_20211230.bin” (names can vary based on versions, firmware, and mainboard type).
- Turn off your Ender 3 V2.
- Insert the SD card with the firmware file into the printer’s SD card slot.
- Turn the 3D printer back on.
- During the update, the display screen may remain black for approximately 5-10 seconds.
- After the new firmware is installed, your 3D printer will direct you to the menu screen.
- In the “Info” section of the menu, verify that the new firmware version has been successfully installed.
For a visual representation of these steps, you can watch the video by Crosslink, which provides a step-by-step guide to the entire firmware update procedure.
Note: If you encounter a situation where the screen stays black for an extended period, as reported by one user with the V4.2.2 mainboard, consider formatting the SD card in FAT32. This action can help resolve the issue and restore normal functionality.
Updating Firmware on an Ender 3 S1: Easy Steps
The firmware update process for the Ender 3 S1 closely mirrors that of the Ender 3 V2, with just one variation: checking the installed firmware version. Here’s how to do it:
- To find the current firmware version on your Ender 3 S1, navigate to the “Control” section on your 3D printer’s menu.
- Scroll down within the “Control” section and select “Info.”
- This will display the currently installed firmware version on your Ender 3 S1, allowing you to confirm it.
- You can also use this method to verify that the new firmware has been successfully installed after the update.
For a visual walkthrough of the firmware update process on your Ender 3 S1, refer to a concise video tutorial by ScN. This video provides a step-by-step guide to ensure you update your firmware flawlessly.
Furthermore, a user recommendation advises against using SD cards larger than 32GB, as some mainboards may not support larger capacity cards effectively. Consider purchasing a 16GB SanDisk SD Card from Amazon as a reliable and compatible option for your Ender 3 S1.
I am Bheema Shankar. I have worked on SLS, CJP, DLP, SLA and FDM technologies at Think3D. Currently working as Process and application engineer at VEER-O-METALS PRIVATE LIMITED. I am always fascinated by the process of creating things layer by layer. This fascination led me to pursue a career in 3D printing technology. I am passionate about how 3D works and enjoy exploring new ways to improve the 3D printing process.