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Creality Ender 3 & PETG Filament – How to Achieve Success

Aug 8, 2019 by Jacob Greenburg

PETG is a popular material combining the ease of use of PLA with the toughness of ABS. But can it be printed on an Ender 3? Find out in this quick guide!


Ender 3 & PETG (Nearly) Endless Options

Clear PETG shining brightly.
Clear PETG shining brightly. Source: HotsNot101 / Reddit

Creality’s Ender 3 is currently one of the most popular hobby 3D printers due to its low price point and exquisite print quality. In fact, this machine can print with a plethora of materials. Here’s a shortlist of what is capable on your Ender 3:

  • PLA/PLA+/Exotic PLA: The go-to filament for most users. This filament can print at low temperatures, has incredible strength, no warpage, little stringing, and good bed adhesion.
  • ABS: High-temperature resistance and flexibility under strain, but can release toxic fumes and usually requires an enclosure to limit warping.
  • PETG: This filament has similar printability to PLA while still having high heat resistance and elasticity under strain. Although, it can have slight stringing issues. Additionally, the optical clarity of PETG filament is astounding.

There you have it: The Ender 3 is a competent machine even when kept to the stock configuration.

What makes more exotic filaments such as polypropylene and polycarbonate off-limits for the Ender 3 is its Bowden type extruder. The use of the PTFE tube in the Bowden setup limits the temperature range of the hot end. Despite this, Ender 3’s PETG capabilities make this printer a great addition to anyone’s collection.

In the following, we’ll present several tips for successful PETG printing on the Ender 3.

Creality Ender 3

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Creality Ender 3 Pro

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Ender 3 & PETG Step 1: Bed Adhesion

Kapton tape on an Ender 3.
Kapton tape on an Ender 3. Source: TheAwesomeG2 / Reddit

3D printing PETG on the Ender 3 can seem daunting, but with the right bed adhesion measures, you can step into this new material with ease:

Bed Temperature

Due to the high melting temperature of PETG, we recommend setting your Ender 3’s bed temperature to between 50 and 60 °C.

Build Surface 

The standard Ender 3 build surface, BuildTak, is the ideal surface for printing PETG with the Ender 3. This material will allow you to have excellent adhesion while providing a more natural way to remove the print due to its flexibility. But be warned: An initial layer height that is too small can cause PETG to fuse to the print bed, making it easy to damage.

If you have equipped your Ender 3 with a glass build plate, you should watch out. PETG is notorious for sticking to the glass so well that it fuses to it. This fusing can be so strong that it removes chunks out of the glass bed, permanently damaging it. If you choose to use glass, use a thin layer of hairspray, glue stick, or specialty bed adhesive.

Covering the Ender 3’s print bed with blue painter’s tape is the best and easiest way to get PETG to have a secure bed adhesion as well as ease of removability. We recommend this method as your default.

Another good option is Kapton tape. This tape will give you the same benefits of using blue painter’s tape, but might not have the same amount of adhesion.

Initial Layer Height

Simply put, PETG is different from ABS and PLA: We recommend backing away from your print bed in 0.02-mm increments until you get the initial layer height just right.

Ender 3 & PETG Step 2: Print Temperature and Fan

Inadequate cooling can cause stringing issues.
Inadequate cooling can cause stringing issues. Source: Ultimaker

Printing on the Ender 3 PETG can prove to be troublesome if you don’t have the correct temperatures in place. For typical PETG, it is recommended to use a temperature between 220 and 250 °C. However, the Ender 3 has a Bowden setup with a PTFE tube going to the tip of the hot end, a configuration which has a temperature limit of the melting point of the Bowden tube. Keep the print temperatures below 240 °C and your PETG prints should turn out great while protecting you from noxious fumes.

When printing, set the fan speed as high as possible to increase detail and limit stringing, the higher fan speed helps with the PETG’s tendency to string, which happens when the filament melts too far up inside the hot end. If you’re looking for better layer adhesion and strength, print without a fan or very low fan speed. While your print will have much more stringing, the PETG fuses well to itself when left hot for longer.

Hot End Temperature

Use 220 to 240 °C to print PETG on your Ender 3. Do not go above 240 °C. While it will work for a short time, the elevated temperatures will cause the Bowden tube to melt, damaging the printer and releasing noxious fumes.

Part Cooling Fan

First of all, turn off the fan for the first two layers.

To limit stringing, set your fan to the maximum to cool the PETG as fast as possible. If you have layer adhesion issues, slow it down. To maximize the plastic’s strength, set your fan speed low. Note that this will affect print quality.


Ender 3 & PETG Step 3: Print Speed

Dial in retraction to prevent stringing.
Dial in retraction to prevent stringing. Source: Ultimaker

When PETG gets hot, it has more of a molten state that allows it to flow more readily than other filament types. The viscosity of the filament makes it more temperamental than others when printing. Here are our recommendations for Ender 3 PETG printing:

  • Keep your retraction speed low, at 40 mm/s or less.
  • Keep retraction distance similar to PLA, around 6 mm.
  • Keep print speed between 30 and 50 mm/s.

As you can see, these values are very similar to those of PLA, hence the popularity of PETG. If you’ve tried several different retraction lengths and can’t get it perfect, try varying retraction speed.

Ender 3 & PETG Wrapping Up

Smooth and translucent PETG vases.
Smooth and translucent PETG vases. Source: pedalbored / imgur.com

The benefits of PETG are bountiful. You get the strength of ABS with the printability of PLA. Further, PETG can be food-safe and has a higher heat resistance than PLA. Once you get the print settings dialed correctly, you’ll find the  Ender 3 is a great machine to print this material with.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide on 3D printing with PETG on the Ender 3. While the filament can be tricky to get right, we hope that this quick guide proves useful as you begin your adventures with PETG.

As always, happy 3D printing!

Feature image source: Mongolboog / imgur.com

License: The text of "Creality Ender 3 & PETG Filament – How to Achieve Success" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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