3D printing has grown so much over recent years, making it one of the most popular tech-related hobbies to be involved with at home. There is a consistently growing market of both models and companies delivering all sorts of solutions covering everything from the most advanced printers to the most user-friendly for novices.
Today, we get to talk about something in-between, covering both user-friendly and advanced alike. A solution that doesn’t take much to learn, but offers everything a conditioned enthusiast would want all the same. This is the Creality Ender 5 Pro 3D printer (2020 upgraded edition).
As described in the listing from Amazon, the 3D printer didn’t come fully assembled. This printer, while coming in pieces, is in no way a fully-fledged kit. This came in three to four main parts which you screwed together and plugged in. There was no messing around with mains voltage either–the needed wires were just protruding from the mainboard.
When assembling the printer, it was evident that care was put into making the instructions easy to follow. They explained every step in detail, with colored pictures to illustrate how everything fit together. They also labeled all of the bags so you didn’t have to guess at what part the instructions required. The printer also came with all the tools you need, and not just for assembling the printer, but also for servicing the printer if needed. They also included a couple of spare parts, like an extra nozzle and pneumatic coupling. Everything fit together properly with little to no issues, so no complaints there.
The printer itself came with all of the required necessities to start printing straight out of the box. It came with an 8Gb micro SD card, and an adapter to read the card in a normal USB type-A port. Since we got the upgraded version of the printer, it also came with Capricorn PTFE tubing, rather than the basic, white PTFE tube that comes with most stock printers. The upgraded version also includes a silent mainboard, which upgrades the stepper drivers on the board. In turn, the only noticeable noise while printing is the fans used to cool the machine.
This printer also came with a metal extruder, which is not the best extruder we’ve seen here, but it is a huge upgrade over the plastic extruder that comes with the basic version of this machine.
The Ender 5 comes with two different ways of accessing files and starting prints. The first of these is the micro SD card slot, which is easy enough to use. Just load your sliced files onto it, plug it in, and start printing. But the second way is to hook the printer directly into your computer via the mini USB port. Sadly, they did not include a mini USB cable, so you will have to supply your own.
If you plug the Micro SD card into your computer, you will see that Creality included a pre-setup slicer for printing on the Ender 5. Sadly, this never worked for us, so we just downloaded Cura from the Ultimaker website, and then chose the Ender 5 preset, which worked perfectly fine with minimal tweaking.
At first, after the machine was fully assembled, it was running fine, the first test print was running smoothly until some of the included filament broke into the extruder. We assumed that it was just a low-quality filament, discarded it, and replaced it with black PLA filament. But once we started printing with the new filament, the extruder started skipping steps. It took us a few hours to find the problem, but apparently, a piece of the included white filament had broken and lodged itself inside of the extruder during the first print. While this issue was eventually corrected by cleaning the gear that drives the filament, it was a pain to diagnose and fix. A word of caution, buy name-brand filament instead of using the included roll.
One thing to note, when the bed was leveled, we tried a few prints, but almost all of them were warping off of the included magnetic build plate. We had numerous failed prints until we just decided to use a layer of blue painter’s tape over the bed. If you are going to try this, the brand we recommend is 3M. From our tests, this works the best and stays stuck down to the build plate while being heated. After we applied the tape, the prints were sticking and we had no further issues.
One thing that should be considered about this printer is the fact that it cannot print in ABS, primarily because the bed cannot get hot enough to keep it stuck down. Since the bed is magnetic, upgrading the heat pad underneath it would be a poor choice, because, at high temperatures, the magnetic bed can lose it’s magnetism and fail. A new bed would be required and a few other tweaks to get there, such as creating an enclosure for the printer to help trap in heat. That would be an entirely new story in itself though, so I’ll leave it at that (out of the box, it isn’t an ABS-capable printer).
Now that we’re over the gripes, we should consider the performance of the printer. From our tests, the printer did an excellent job making highly accurate figures and parts with ease. The figures we made had a greater detail than most of the machines we’ve used to date! The printer is also virtually silent while printing, but while that is nice, in this printer, you sacrifice print speeds for silent operation. With the silent drivers onboard, you are reducing the torque that the motor can provide. So operation might be silent, but if the printer is used over a certain speed, you will start noticing skipped steps in the print. The printer has a recommended speed of 60mm/s and a max speed of 80mm/s. These speeds are still pretty decent for a 3D printer, but they are still below standard for most non-silent 3D printers on the market.
As a modern-day 3D printer, the Ender 5 seems to hold its own against other printers in its price range; it continues the trend of quality products that Creality has put onto the markets in recent years. Although it is lacking in some regards (most notably the lack of ABS printing out of the box) it hits the mark in so many others that it is hard to complain. Its reliability and quiet operation are two factors that make this printer stand out against others we have tried. All in all, the Ender 5 is a great printer to just get started printing for the first time, even for those of us who only have a basic understanding of the medium.
*Average price is based on the time this article was published
Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.
Don’t forget to subscribe for a chance to win cool prizes!