I have had my Ender 5 for about 6 months now, I bought it slightly used and got a deal that included a bunch of filament etc. I have had a great opportunity to learn, learn and learn as I explored this new hobby. Thanks to YouTube channels like:
Filament Friday / CHEP
I have made a lot of mistakes as I stumbled through some of the upgrades that I installed onto the Ender 5. One big mistake was getting caught up on modifying my printer too much, but in the end I have gained a great deal of experience that I might not have received if I did not do the modifications. Aliexpress, Amazon , Spool3D and 3D Printing Canada have an endless supply of inexpensive upgrades and modifications, but take it from my experience, baby steps!
Some of the first modifications I did and that I highly recommend are:
- Magnetic flexible PEI sheet
- Micro Swiss Hot End
- 32 bit board like the Big Tree Tech SKR 1.4 Turbo
- BMG type extruder
- Cura Slicer
If I was going to buy the Micro Swiss now, I would opt for the Direct Drive kit for a few bucks more. The new hot end was a great upgrade, but I did not make the rights adjustments at first. There is a great article here by SublimeLayers on how retraction works. I learned that with this all metal hot I needed smaller retraction settings so I did not bring in filament to the heat block and also keeping fan on all the time. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I had bed leveling or extruder problems, when it was my hot end getting too hot and partially clogging. I ended up using a 2.5mm retraction with a speed of 50mm/s.
I wanted to start compiling my own Marlin firmware, and to do this I needed a 32 bit board. I went with the newer SKR 1.4 Turbo, but I did not do enough research on how I would mount this board into the existing electronics housing. I ended up searching Thingiverse for an external case and found this one that mounted nicely onto the frame. In hindsight I should of used the SKR Mini E3 and that would have mounted nicely into the existing case.
One of the things I noticed with the original plastic extruder was it was cheap wore down very quickly which caused a lot of slippage and no good way to adjust the grip on the filament. After some investigation I found that I could upgrade the extruder to a more accurate, dual gear one of much higher quality. I went for the Bondtech BMG version, but found that the clone ones on Amazon are just as good, but your mileage may vary.
This is a must upgrade so you can remotly manage your printer. There are many plugins to explore, but one of the best features is the connection from Cura to Octoprint. This is a very easy process and then there is no need to manually copy over print files to the printer.
The Ender 5 came with a very old version of Cura, so best thing is to head over to Ulimaker and download the latest version. This is a great piece of free software made by the 3D printing company Ultimaker, a big thank you. I was tempted to buy a copy of Simplify 3D, thinking that the paid software should be better with support extra etc. After investigating the forums on the Simplify 3D site, I found a lot of unhappy customers and the Cura had more features and releasing consistent updates etc., as compared to simply.
This has been my COVID saviour for when I have been isolated at home! There are definitely more articles to come as I delve deeper into this hobby.