The Ender 3 and Ender 3 Pro are two of the most popular entry-level FDM printers on the market, known for both their quality and affordability. But some people needing to make large prints may wonder if the Ender 3’s printing area is big enough.
What is the usable printing size?
Creality advertises that the Ender 3’s print area is 220 x 220 mm.
But you may have measured yourself or read somewhere that the build plate is actually 235 x 235mm, meaning around 12% of the build plate is left unused.
The main reason for this is that on the Ender 3, the included print surface is secured to the heated bed with binder clips. It’s likely that Creality limited the build size primarily to keep the nozzle from hitting these clips and causing issues.
I’ve personally experienced issues with other printers that don’t account for the clips used to secure the print surface. On those that don’t account for the clips, during the priming extrusion, the nozzle would hit the front-left clip and drag it to the corner of the build plate.
Needless to say that having to reset the clip each time gets old fast. So one can appreciate this being taken into account.
What about the Ender 3 Pro?
The Ender 3 Pro, even though it has an upgraded print surface, also has an advertised print area of 220 x 220 mm.
This may come as a surprise then, considering it’s print surface is attached magnetically, and thus doesn’t require any clips to hold in place.
It’s likely that Creality either didn’t want to bother using separate firmware just for the Ender 3 Pro or wanted to keep the safe area buffer to keep prints from the edge of the printing surface.
Is there any way to use the full print surface?
Unfortunately, the 220 x 220mm max printing size is a part of the firmware loaded onto the Ender 3 and Ender 3 Pro. This means that you can’t just set a larger print size in your slicer of choice.
The good news is, the Ender 3 runs on what is essentially a version of firmware called “Marlin.” By using installing the latest version of Marlin firmware yourself, you will be able to set up a larger max print size on your Ender 3.
In addition to installing different firmware than what’s included, there are some sites selling extender kits for Ender 3 printers, which actually increase the physical size of the printer. For example, this site is selling extender kits that let you increase the printable area to 400 x 400mm.
Wondering whether you should buy the Ender 3 or Ender 3 Pro?
We wrote up a comparison to help you decide: Ender 3 vs Ender 3 Pro