Best Ender 3 (Pro) Cura settings: temperature, speed, retraction, more

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01 Nov, 2022

Many Creality Ender 3 users choose Cura as their slicer

Many Creality Ender 3 users choose Cura as their slicer

Creality Ender 3 printers and Cura are a perfect match. But you might have to tweak a few settings to get the right results on your Ender 3.

The Creality Ender 3, in addition to its variants such as the Ender 3 Pro and Ender 3 V2, is one of the most popular entry-level 3D printers out there. Its low price, easy assembly, and high level of community support have made it the first port of call for many beginners and experienced users alike.

Another advantage of the Ender 3 is its compatibility with a range of slicers. Creality actually provides its own slicing software, Creality Slicer, but users will typically use the printer with a more established and feature-packed application such as Simplify3D, PrusaSlicer, or Ultimaker Cura.

Though all slicers have their advantages, Cura remains the frontrunner for use with the Ender 3. In fact, Creality built its own slicer on Cura architecture, which goes to show how the software and hardware can work hand in hand.

Because the Ender 3 and Ender 3 Pro are both very common 3D printers, each has its own default Cura profile, which should allow users to get up and running with the slicer without much trouble. However, sometimes individual settings will need tweaking to get the best results out of the Ender 3.

This article looks at the best Ender 3 Pro Cura settings. Starting with the default machine settings, we will then explore a few other parameters for users to play around with.

Why use Cura with the Ender 3?

3D printing beginners might wonder why so many Ender 3 users have chosen to use software developed by another company when the Creality Slicer is included with the Ender 3 (Pro) and ready to use.

Of course, Creality Slicer can work well for many prints, and some users swear by it. However, it has some significant limitations, leading most users to turn to a more established application like Cura.

As mentioned in the introduction, Creality Slicer is based on Cura, so the two applications look and feel relatively similar. However, Cura retains a greater number of features and is updated much more regularly, giving users regular bug fixes, a greater number of printing options, and a better slicing experience overall.

Cura is also free, so besides the extra few minutes required to download it, there is basically no drawback to installing it over Creality Slicer.

SlicersEnder 3 users can choose between various slicers

Cura Ender 3 (Pro) settings

This article focuses on the best Ender 3 (Pro) Cura settings regardless of filament, while noting settings that are filament-dependent. It focuses on common parameters like temperature, speed, and resolution.

Machine settings

The Cura machine settings for the Ender 3 and Ender 3 Pro are not user-defined parameters to play around with, but are rather definitions of the machine that ensures the slicer is giving the 3D printer instructions that are relevant to its physical setup — ensuring it doesn’t print over the boundaries of the print bed, for example.

Note that the Ender 3 Pro Cura settings for Printer Settings and Printhead Settings are identical to those for the classic Ender 3. The main differences between the two printers are the power supply, removable built plate, and bed leveling features, but the build area and gantry are more or less identical.[1]

Ender 3

Printer Settings

  • X: 220 mm

  • Y: 220 mm

  • Z: 250 mm

  • Build plate shape: Rectangular

  • Origin at center: ☐

  • Heated bed: ☑

  • Heated build volume: ☐

  • G-code flavor: Marlin

Printhead Settings

  • X min: -26 mm

  • Y min: -32 mm

  • X max: 32 mm

  • Y max: 34 mm

  • Gantry height: 25 mm

  • Number of extruders: 1

Ender 3 Pro

Printer Settings

  • X: 220 mm

  • Y: 220 mm

  • Z: 250 mm

  • Build plate shape: Rectangular

  • Origin at center: ☐

  • Heated bed: ☑

  • Heated build volume: ☐

  • G-code flavor: Marlin

Printhead Settings

  • X min: -26 mm

  • Y min: -32 mm

  • X max: 32 mm

  • Y max: 34 mm

  • Gantry height: 25 mm

  • Number of extruders: 1

Temperature settings

Some of the most important print settings are those related to temperature. Thermoplastics have different thermal properties from one another, so Ender 3 users must sometimes alter the temperature parameters in Cura to get the right results with different filaments.

Hot end temperature

The Ender 3 has a maximum hot end temperature (nozzle temperature) of 260 °C, which is sufficient for common filaments like PLA, ABS, and PETG but insufficient for high-temp materials like PC and certain nylons.

Choosing a printing temperature depends on the filament being used, as thermoplastics have different glass transition temperatures and melting points. Ender 3 extrusion temperatures for common filaments are:

  • PLA: 190–210 °C

  • ABS: 220–240 °C

  • PETG: 230–245 °C

  • TPU: 220–230 °C

Bed temperature

The heated bed of the Ender 3 (Pro) can be raised to a maximum of 110 °C, which is sufficient for common materials but insufficient for certain high-temp materials like PC.

Ender 3 print bed temperatures for common filaments are:

  • PLA: 50 °C

  • ABS: 110 °C

  • PETG: 70 °C

  • TPU: 50 °C

Heated bedA heated bed ensures good bed adhesion

Speed settings

When it comes to print speed, Ender 3 users might wish to adjust the default settings in Cura to achieve shorter print times or higher-quality parts. Faster speeds reduce overall print time but can lead to issues like under-extrusion.

Printing speed

According to Creality, the Ender 3 and related models like the Ender 3 Pro can print at a maximum rate of 200 mm/s. However, this is not feasible for most materials and scenarios, as the material would not have time to be extruded.

Although travel speeds can get close to that maximum speed, actual printing speeds tend to be between 20 mm/s and 100 mm/s, depending on the filament being used and the type of parts being printed. Prototypes can generally be printed faster, as any resulting imperfections are not important, whereas high-value items should be printed slower to ensure good quality.

Ender 3 printing speeds for common filaments are:

  • PLA: 60 mm/s (max 150 mm/s)

  • ABS: 60 mm/s

  • PETG: 40 mm/s

  • TPU: 20 mm/s

Initial layer speed

Printing the first layer(s) of a print at a slower speed can improve bed adhesion, leading to better print quality and reducing the chances of print failure on the Ender 3. A speed of 30 mm/s works well for most filaments, with the exception of flexible filaments like TPU, which should generally be printed even slower, i.e. 20 mm/s.

Recommended reading: 3D print speed: What it is and why it matters

Infill settings

When using Cura with the Ender 3 (Pro), users have a great deal of flexibility when it comes to infill, with 14 different infill patterns available, in addition to advanced settings like infill line direction and XY offset. The most important settings, however, are infill density (expressed as a percentage) and infill pattern.

Infill density

Infill affects the density of printed parts. In most cases, parts can be mostly hollow, with just enough material arranged in an ordered pattern on the inside. 

The Ender 3 infill density should be set depending on the purpose of the printed parts:

  • Visual-only prints: 0–15% infill density

  • Standard prints: 15–50% infill density

  • Functional prints: 50–100% infill density

Infill pattern

Cura offers a wide variety of preset infill patterns, all of which can be realized on the Ender 3 and related models. These patterns affect the mechanical properties of the final parts.[2]

As with infill density, choosing an infill pattern generally depends on the purpose of the parts: some patterns are better for fast printing, some are better for achieving high strength, while some are best for making flexible parts.

Recommended reading: Cura infill patterns: What they are and when to use them

Infill patternCura offers 14 different infill patterns

Resolution settings

When printing parts on the Ender 3 (Pro), achieving a high level of detail, resolution, and dimensional accuracy depends on a few different factors, such as the layer height (which affects Z resolution), the line width (which affects XY resolution), and the accuracy of the Ender 3. The first two factors are user-determined parameters, while the third is determined by the quality of the machine.

Layer height

Setting a layer height in Cura determines the level of Z-axis resolution that the Ender 3 will achieve when printing parts. A greater layer height means the part will print faster but with lower resolution on the Z axis, while a smaller layer height means slower prints and better detail.

When setting the layer height on your Ender 3, it is important to remember how the printer physically achieves a certain layer height. On the Ender 3, the shortest distance the printhead can move along the Z-axis is 0.04 mm, as this is equivalent to one “step” on the stepper motor. It therefore makes sense to set a layer height in a multiple of 0.04, e.g. 0.16 mm, 0.2 mm, 0.24 mm, and so forth…

The Ender 3 layer height should be chosen depending on the desired resolution and printing time:

  • 0.12 mm (good detail, slower)

  • 0.2 mm (average detail, faster)

  • 0.28 mm (average–poor detail, fast)

Initial layer height

Laying down a thick first layer — as well as printing at a slightly reduced speed — can help with bed adhesion on the Ender 3. An initial layer height of around 0.24 mm (keeping the value in multiples of 0.04 mm) works well.

Line width

The line width setting is to a great extent determined by the nozzle diameter. On the Ender 3, the standard nozzle has a diameter of 0.4 mm (although there are various Ender 3 nozzle sizes to choose from).

Good layer adhesion can be achieved by using a line width slightly greater than the nozzle diameter. So with the standard Ender 3 nozzle, this may be around 0.44–0.48 mm.

Retraction settings

Retraction is when the extruder gears go into reverse to relieve pressure in the nozzle during travel movements. This action helps to prevent oozing and stringing as the printhead moves from one area of the build area to another.

Some materials are more prone to oozing and stringing than others. PETG, for example, can be particularly difficult to work with.

Retraction speed

Retraction speed is the rate at which the material is pulled back by the extruder gears. Faster speeds are more likely to prevent oozing but are also more likely to cause material grinding. A value of 30–50 mm/s is ideal, keeping to the lower end of the range of filament grinding occurs.

Retraction distance

Retraction distance is the length of filament pulled back during retraction. Longer retractions are more likely to prevent oozing but take longer to perform and can put strain on the filament. On the Ender 3, a value of around 5 mm/s works well, though this value can be increased in increments of 1 mm/s if oozing and stringing persists.

Conclusion

The Creality Ender 3 and Ender 3 Pro both work exceptionally well with Ultimaker Cura, and the slicer’s default settings for the 3D printers work well in most situations. Additionally, using the predefined material profiles on Cura typically yields good results, with tweaks to the Ender 3 Pro Cura settings only needed when experiencing diagnosable printing issues.

References

[1] Ender-3 vs Ender-3 Pro [Internet]. Creality 3D. [cited 2022Oct31]. Available from: https://creality3d.shop/blogs/choose-your-3d-printer/ender-3-vs-ender-3-pro

[2] Lalegani Dezaki M, Mohd Ariffin MK. The effects of combined infill patterns on mechanical properties in fdm process. Polymers. 2020 Nov 26;12(12):2792.

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More by Benedict O'Neill

Educated at King's College London and the University of Amsterdam, Benedict has been a freelance writer in the 3D printing industry since 2015. He is a contributing editor at Aniwaa and a senior writer at 3dpbm.

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