Have you ever wondered whether you were better off buying the Ender S1 or the modifying the already affordable Ender 3 V2?  Well, in this article we’ll explore the pros and cons of each and see which might be a better choice depending on your use case.  What you see here is my own opinion.  Undertake these upgrades at your own risk.

Now, for the purposes of this video, I will be comparing some specific upgrades which make the Ender 3 V2 more similar to the Ender 3 S1.  One of the biggest differences is the hot end assembly, which on the S1 uses a Sprite extruder, while the V2 uses your standard Bowden tube setup.  Now both methods have their own pros and cons, but for this comparison will be upgrading it to also have a Sprite extruder.  I did the math on this and unless you’re buying a knockoff hot end, it’s a lot easier to simply get the Sprite extruder upgrade kit which comes with the replacement cables. Just make sure to buy the High temperature version when you do so.  The S1 strangely has a heat break which isn’t all metal, so I’d recommend looking into replacing that if you want to print with higher temperatures.  Just be aware, that replacing this can be a little finicky, and I did do some damage to mine when doing that upgrade. The sprite extruder comes with a CRTouch for auto levelling, and there is already a firmware upgrade for the V2 if you install this on your machine. Depending on where you purchase this kit, you’ll be looking around $100 USD at the time of writing.

Generally speaking, I do recommend that you have a dual Z axis setup, when you have a direct extruder, so for this reason we’ll be adding another Z axis to the machine for additional stability.  The good news is that there are plenty of these kits available, but you’re going to want to make sure that they come with the wiring and if possible two lead screw bearing brackets since they can help stabilize the lead screws.  Most of these kits have a splitter cable which helps divide the signal from the stepper motor drivers and makes it a lot easier to install.  I’ve already created a playlist for Upgrading the V2 so make sure to check that out if you’re planning on doing the same changes to your machine.  This will roughly add $25 USD to our total for the upgrade.

Another big difference between these two machines, is the build plate. For some reason, you currently can’t purchase the exact same build plate that comes on the S1 unless you’re a registered vendor.  This is problematic for print farms, which normally want to have a couple of extras, so they can easily swap them out.  The one that is currently available is the older version, which just doesn’t work as well and isn’t really worth the money.  I added one of these to my machines and honestly, I’m thinking about either simply removing it or using 250 grit sandpaper to rough up the metal side since that seems to work great for PETG material.  This will roughly add $26 USD to our total.

Now, the nice thing about both of these machines is that the source code is available for both.  So if you decided to make additional changes, you still can.  This makes the longevity of the machines more likely, since this opens up the possibility of additional suppliers for certain components.  In a time when there’s supply chain issues, this level of flexibility is quite necessary for any purchasing decisions.

So which options do I recommend and for whom.  If you already own a V2 and don’t plan on picking up another machine, then simply upgrading your existing one is a good idea.  Doing this will reduce waste and help prolong the longevity of your machine, but I wouldn’t consider the upgrades a necessary step until you want to print with higher temperature materials.  If you’re planing on getting a new machine, or need to replace the one you currently have, then the S1 is a feasible option, however keep in mind that certain replacement parts aren’t available to the public as of the writing of this article.  Since quite a few components are proprietary, this could pose a serious issue if you need to replace a component.  Therefore, if you’re looking for a reliable machine, then a stock V2 may actually be a better option because of it’s level of flexibility, and it’s lower price point.

If you’re always looking around for the information that you need on these printers’ and other’s I have the PDF guides which include the wiring diagrams, tips and tricks, maintenance, printer calibration, realignment, parts, firmware and much more.  For the machines that require it I’ve also included the STL which helps restore functionality. 

Compare to many other 3D printers, the CR10 Smart features causes the levelling process to be quite different.  This can cause quite a bit of frustration among new user’s, so we’ll be going over the process in today’s article.

To start things off, we’ll first need to lower the build plate prior to starting the levelling process.  From the main menu, you’ll go to “Settings” + “Level” and wait for the hot end to probe the centre of the build plate.  From Here, you’ll use the up and down arrows to set the probe offset, and in this case we want the nozzle to just barely touch the build plate or be slightly raised if it crashes into the surface.  Now, this machine doesn’t allow for extreme fine-tuning of this feature, so we’ll go through some other methods later on.  By selecting any of the corner numbers, the hot end assembly will automatically move to that location, and you’ll be able to adjust the levelling nut for the that corner of the build plate.  Repeat this procedure for each of the corner’s making sure to double-check these before moving on to the next step.

With the basic levelling completed, you’ll now do an auto bed levelling.  This creates a levelling mesh that is retained in the machine’s memory and allows it to compensate for an uneven surface.  For this to be effective you’ll first want to preheat the nozzle and the build plate making sure that the nozzle is clean from any debris.  Once this is complete, you can then double-check your print levelling by doing a short print which fits the build surface.  For this example, I will be using a custom file that I’ve created, but you can use anything that similar.  I designed this one to print in a continuous loop depending on the number of brim lines, so I will be using this to my advantage.  This file will be available along with the other support files HERE.  While the printer is moving, we can now adjust the offset if necessary to make sure that it doesn’t crash into the bed but has the correct height.  If you still have to make additional adjustments, then this is where your slicer settings and start G-code will come into play.

If you have problems with the initial layer being too high off the build plate, you can compensate slightly through your slicer settings.  For those new to 3D printing, this might be the least daunting option.  For this example, I’m using Cura, but most slicer’s will have an option which is similar to this one.   Under the Material’s Tab, you’ll go to the “Initial Layer Flow” and increase this slightly.  Since the build surface is so textured on this machine, it does allow for more flexibility with your flow rate, but I wouldn’t increase this too much otherwise the first layer will lift onto itself because it’ll be over-compressed.  If it’s more than 10% higher than your actual flow rate, then you’ll want to use the following method instead.

You can go to “Settings” + “Configure Settings and Visibility” + “Printers” + “Machine Settings” where you can expand the Start G-Code Window.  From here you can modify this line “G1 Z2.0 F3000 ;Move Z Axis up” to adjust the amount if needed.  This line appears in two areas of the Start G-Code.  The first is for the purge line and the second is for the actual print.  The portion which controls the initial Print height is this part here, so you can either increase it if it’s too close or decrease it if it’s too height up.  The good news is that because you’ve already set the Z-offset using the menu options, you know that this value will be within 0.05 increments. So you’ll make your necessary changes and do your print test to verify your results.  Making adjustments with this method does make it much more accurate and for those of you who are even slightly familiar with G-code this might be the best option.

With your bed levelling complete, you should now be able to have a much better chance of your 3d prints succeeding.  For the full PDF guide which includes diagrams and more detailed instructions, you can find this here along with other guides for many other machines as well.