Our look at the Creality Ender-3 KE concludes with software, print results and final thoughts.
Creality Ender-3 KE 3D Printer Software
When using the KE, you’re going to spend most of your time in Creality Print, the company’s custom print management software. Sure, you can use other slicers if you have a suitable machine profile, but there’s a big advantage to Creality Print: device connectivity and management.
You can slice and dispatch a model to a printer all from the desktop, and it’s incredibly convenient. When using other slicers you have to revert to the “put it on a USB stick” approach, something I’m gradually losing patience to do.
Here you can see the job monitoring panel in Creality Print after you dispatch a job. It’s quite informative and shows you more than you see on the sometimes-hard-to-read machine touchscreen. You can also stop or pause the print if required.
Note that you cannot see the action from Creality Print, as the KE does not by default include a webcam. This is an optional feature, and if attached it apparently will show up in Creality Print. I did not have a camera for my testing, unfortunately.
Creality Print GCODE options [Source: Fabbaloo]
When you slice a job in Creality Print you’re provided options. You can save it to a USB stick for manual mode, or you can do “LAN printing”. The catch here is that you have to select which machine should receive the job, and that’s again why we need to name the printers.
The catch here is that sometimes I found my machine missing! I found the connectivity to be flaky, with the machine appearing and disappearing for no apparent reason. I tried various combinations of powering up, then launching Creality Print, etc., but it’s just random.
However, as long as it is connected and able to receive the job, you’re ok. The job is stored locally on the KE and does not require continuous connection for printing. I found the job download to be pretty quick over the LAN, even for large jobs.
Creality Print hung up while slicing a large 3D model [Source: Fabbaloo]
I experienced a number of problems while using Creality Print. One problem was evident when I tried to slice a large 3D model. The software seems to freeze when processing large models, which lead to me having to forcefully close the application and retry with a smaller model.
An additional unusual issue with Creality Print is seen here. This is the preview page, where the colors shown supposed to match the index on the right. Regrettably, I often noticed the preview was colored randomly. Sometimes it operated correctly, at other times it did not.
Creality has been made aware of these issues and acknowledges there is room for improvement. They mentioned that the Creality Print version for Mac OS has some issues which are currently being resolved. I am hoping for enhancements in the upcoming versions.
Monitoring jobs on the Creality Ender-3 KE 3D printer is now possible with the use of the Creality Cloud app. This cloud-based system allows for seamless sharing of account information across all your devices. Monitoring a job can be done through the touchscreen, via Creality Print, through the app, and even from a web page while logged into your Creality Cloud account. One thing to be aware of is that the app appears to disable display timeout, meaning your device will stay on the screen until you intervene.
Cloud slicing is another feature available through the Creality Cloud. Although some may find slicing in the cloud useful, a local alternative like the Creality Print software may be a preferred option.
There is a consistent issue with Creality Print which is that the estimated time for printing jobs is frequently under-calculated. For instance, observed from the above examples, the estimated time post-slicing (as seen in the job name directory) consistently falls shorter than the real printing time. Furthermore, it is critical to note that the final message does not include the total time taken for the job.
Creality Print’s app or website allows for the selection and downloading of models from their rapidly expanding library. These models can also be sliced and subsequently printed. However, bear in mind that a substantial number of these models are not available for free and require purchases via credits within the Creality Cloud system.
One issue I had with this is that some models are loaded with the assumption of a specific (other) machine. For those you have to do some extra work to reconfigure the model for the KE.
While Creality Cloud does provide a lot of convenience for managing your printer, there is a lot more going on at the site. It seems that Creality is jamming in every possible item and service they can think of, and it is extremely confusing.
On almost every page you are bombarded with popups, coins, points systems, signups, offers, models, and other items. It’s extraordinarily noisy and sometimes does not properly guide the user to where they want to go. I feel like I’m at a carnival and vendors are screaming at me from every direction when I use Creality Cloud. Creality should really spend some time cleaning up the interface rather than just adding more and more features.
Questionable wording on a message from Creality Print.
And yes, there are still plenty of wording mistakes in the service. However, in spite of the errors, it’s usually easy to figure out what’s going on.
Creality Ender-3 KE 3D Printer Print Results
In spite of the software issues, I was easily able to get prints done. Here you can see a wonderful PLA elephant print that finished with minimal stringing.
I used Creality Cloud to find a model for a tool holder for the KE, downloaded it and printed it. It worked very well, and now sits beside the KE holding all the tools included with the machine.
Throughout my testing, I consistently used the standard profiles provided by Creality because that’s what most customers would do. Ideally, any 3D printer can produce perfect prints if enough time and effort are invested in tuning, but realistically, not everyone will do this.
I noticed several instances of issues concerning support structures. As hinted above, there were occasions where spindly support trees detached because their bases were not broad enough. This is a tuning matter within the profile that could be addressed with ease.
Another parameter that might require tuning is the support gap. I did see some irregular surfaces that were above support structures, although it was always easy to remove the supports.
Fully functional torture toaster made on the Creality Ender-3 KE 3D printer [Source: Fabbaloo]
This is the famous torture toaster, which includes a number of mechanical parts. This printed perfectly using default settings, and all feature worked properly. This is why I like the KE; the prints are invariably good quality.
Good quality benchmark test made on the Creality Ender-3 KE 3D printer [Source: Fabbaloo]
This is a benchmark object that came out near perfect. It is designed to fail at the top where support angles gradually increase, but the test showed that the extra cooling on the KE was able to enable some pretty high overhang angles.
A nice PLA print of a scan I captured. Aside from support structures, I found the KE would easily print objects with pretty good quality.
More debris falling into the works on the Creality Ender-3 KE 3D printer.
There’s often more debris interspersed with the component parts of the KE following a detachment. This led me to develop a routine of cleaning the bed used for printing with soap and water every one or two prints, to ensure that adhesion is optimal.
Adhesion can be quite complex: the print must stay in place during the printing process, but it must also be easily removable post-printing. Creality is thus presented with the challenge of striking a balance between these two requirements in their design.
Take a look, here’s a wonderful segmented lizard print created with PETG. My experience with PETG printing showed no problems, and there was proper adhesion to the plate, eliminating the need for any glues.
I attempted a TPU print, as that was a supported material. It came out very well, and the TPU was easily loaded into the extruder.
After such a good TPU print, I found a more challenging model, this matrix shape. I was curious to see how the KE would handle stringing on this highly complex model.
The print largely turned out well, notwithstanding a misplaced pillar at the rear. Of note was how the TPU profile by default includes “autobrim”, which puts a slim brim at the base where the model makes contact with the plate.
For this particular model, brims around each of the matrix nodes were placed, although they detached once the print was removed, remaining stuck on the plate! They proved impossible to pull off, and flexing the plate offered no solution as those were flexible too.
My approach was to print a section of PLA at the top for removal purposes, partially successful. Any remaining parts luckily got rid of effortlessly. In hindsight, I anticipate the print of a TPU panel instead of PLA could have been better, serving notice for caution when printing with TPU.
Final Verdict on Creality Ender-3 KE 3D Printer
The performance of the KE garnered my admiration. It churns out superior quality printouts and stands out as a very sturdy piece of machinery from a hardware perspective. The only stumbling block during printing was plate adhesion, which could likely be fixed with a glue stick or by washing more often.
The remote control and network job dispatch greatly appealed to me, turning into a must-have feature. Nevertheless, the cloud environment’s confusing and overly cluttered nature left much to be desired.
At a price of only US$279, the KE is certainly a feature-packed machine that gives you good value for a low cost.
ENDER-3 KE 3D PRINTER
★ BEGINNER 8/10
★ ENTHUSIAST 8/10
★ PRODUCTION 7/10
✔︎ High speed
✔︎ Solid hardware
✔︎ Remote job dispatch
✖︎ Confusing cloud
✖︎ Profile tuning