The latest upgrades to my Creality Ender 3 – The Micro-Swiss All Metal Hotend and SKR Mini E3 v2

Since my last post updating what I have done on my Creality Ender 3 I have made some additional updates, somewhat by choice, mostly by need. I have installed the WhamBam System’s flexible build platform, as previously acknowledged, I have swapped out the Creality silent board with the SKR Mini E3 v2 and installed the MicroSwiss All-Metal Hotend as I was in need of a new hotend after a rough experience with a couple spools of poorly performing filament.

SKR Mini E3 v2

This change was a complete shock to me, but has ended up being a big improvement over the stock boards I have used so far on this printer. Initially I was really happy with the Creality Silent board, however, after the last post I made I began having some weird issues with settings going out of whack and finally got fed up with troubleshooting and made the jump to the SKR Mini E3 v2. It appeared that the board was no longer retaining the configuration values when storing settings leading to print failure and also damage to my build platform.

SKR Mini Main board for Ender 3 Installed in Creality Ender 3
SKR Mini Main board for Ender 3 Installed in Creality Ender 3

The big hurdle that I had to overcome during the setup with the SKR board was the need to swap a couple wires within the BLTouch wiring to ensure no shorts on the board. Once the wires were swapped I flashed the SKR Mini firmware (found on GitHub) to a MicroSD card, booted the printer and was up and running.

Splash screen showing upgraded Marlin Firmware
Splash screen showing upgraded Marlin Firmware on Creality Ender 3

Once the printer was running, the only other change that was necessary was to ensure the z offset was updated. With the BLTouch, the simplest way I have found to do this is to follow the following steps:

  1. Auto home your bed
  2. Take a standard sheet of paper and lay it on the bed
  3. Move the z axis down in 1mm increments until it’s within 1mm of the paper, then make the adjustments in .1mm increments until the sheet snags when moving the paper
  4. Write down your current z height number shown on the screen
  5. In “Control” settings, write down your current z offset value
  6. Add these values together
  7. Make your new z offset value the sum of those numbers.

The SKR board’s firmware has a lot of nice features I hadn’t had previously and also seems to run significantly faster through menus than either of the Creality boards did. Scrolling through menus and navigation is a lot quicker and easier than it was previously.

In addition, added features like Load/Unload filament, preheating, confirmations prior to executing commands, etc. are all value adds in my book.

One semi-negative – while it is quiet, the stepper drivers on the Creality silent board were noticeably quieter. Nothing that I would go back to using the Creality board for, but worth noting. This printer lives in my home office and I sit by it running all day.

While I am not thrilled to be on my third board with this machine, it has definitely allowed me to try new things, share my findings, and help others when possible.

Price: ~$50 on Amazon

Micro-Swiss All Metal Hotend

This change was not initially by choice, however, it is 100% recommended to anyone with the stock Creality hotend in their machine. I would even venture to say – buy this when buying the Creality Ender 3 new and install it when setting up the printer – it is that good.

The machining on the Micro-Swiss part is impeccable, the added functionality is great for anyone looking to run their printers with higher temperature materials, and this hotend genuinely should make the printer more reliable, even when using more basic materials like PLA and PETG.

Upgraded MicroSwiss All Metal Hotend for Creality Ender 3
Upgraded MicroSwiss All Metal Hotend for Creality Ender 3

The installation of this took less than a half hour and the part is a direct replacement for the stock hotend.

All that is required is removing a handful of screws, replacing the stock wiring for the heating element and the thermistor, and reassembling everything. Their installation video is very helpful, as are those found on the TeachingTech YouTube channel.

From there, I updated my z offset and the printer was running within an hour. See steps above for how to quickly update the z offset with a BLTouch installed.

I really like the lack of PTFE running through the heat break and the upgraded nozzle that comes with the hotend. One of the main issues that is seen with the stock hotends on the Creality machines is issues tied to the Bowden tube lining the hotend and issues arising from the heat needed to print materials like PETG and ABS causing the PTFE to melt/degrade leading to clogging, and worse, the emission of toxic fumes.

Since installing this upgrade the printer has been running flawlessly.

Price: $65 on Amazon

Bonus: Dual Gear Extruder

One final upgrade that is super inexpensive but highly recommended is the Aluminum Dual Gear Extruder. During this process I was inspecting everything and found that friction had lead to the extruder lever having nearly worn-through due to the friction of the PLA/PETG and the plastic of the lever. With this, I installed the Aluminum Dual Gear Extruder upgrade which also allows there to be multiple points extruding the filament versus the stock single-gear pushing against a roller. This upgrade was super simple, and only required calibrating e-steps.

Upgraded Aluminum Dual Drive Extruder for Creality Ender 3
Upgraded Aluminum Dual Drive Extruder for Creality Ender 3

Calibration tutorial from Chep:

Price: <$20 on Amazon

Overall, I am very happy with the progression through upgrades that have been made to my Ender 3. When looking back, this has allowed me to become significantly more knowledgeable about my hardware and has taught me a lot about the craft.

While I am continuing to get more knowledge, the printer still leads to a lot of frustration due to the reliability. The periodic breakdowns are expected with any machine, and it helps teach you, but it can definitely be frustrating. For me, I have begun stocking parts, tubing, and general wear items as many would.

At this point there is little ‘stock’ on the printer but the performance is significantly better in my eyes.

The Ender 3 is definitely good on a budget and will teach you about the process, and will definitely teach you patience.

Please note these products were purchased with my own funds, however, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This is no way changes my opinion of the product. If you are interested in the products that were discussed please use the links in the post to pursue them.

Other 3D Printing Content


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: