Ender 3 Subassembly

When I began thinking about how to design and implement the modifications for my Ender 3, I believed the most effective way to do so was to first model the printer from the open source drawings published by Creality (at least those areas that were directly related to whatever mod I planned).

For the most part, I found their drawings accurate. That said, I did find a few inconsistencies and elements which differed from my printer (due presumably to design and/or production changes made after release).

The result is that the model provided here is very accurate relative to the stock printer hardware and was the basis by which I was able to develop a very high confidence that if a mod worked in the model, it would work on the actual hardware when printed.

Short of some dumb errors I made (and fixed) while creating it, this has proven to be a very effective strategy and a very useful model.

The Fusion 360 linked archive downloadable from this page also has the models for many of the mods I made to my printer. Those models reference this page.

Others mods are independent and modeled separately, and therefore the F360 model archives are supplied directly on their respective pages.

f3d subassembly

Should you choose to implement a new mod from, or radically alter, an existing mod from this subassembly model, I strongly suggest that you don't try to modify something already in this subassembly. Rather, add a new component at the appropriate level (probably the root) and have at it. You can always hide the existing component. (Generally speaking, you'll encounter far less trouble if you don't try to delete it. Any moderately complex model with heavy use of projections will have downstream dependencies.)

But, if you want a relatively minor change to an existing model, then you have access to everything you'll need. Edit the appropriate sketch as needed and regenerate the STL.

Note: I use projections heavily; any change you make might affect something downstream that you didn't intend. Once you try fixing the downstream errors, you could find yourself with the equivalent of pulling on a loose crochet thread: it just keeps unraveling.

In either case, you're on your own!

If you break the model (and that is easy to do if you don't know what you're doing!), then I suggest that you close the subassembly model and start over from a fresh copy of the archive. I can't provide any assistance on how to feed and care for your Fusion 360 pet.

I learned how to successfully fix warnings and errors in my models, along with the use the timeline—but not before spending a few hundred hours learning the "zen" of Fusion 360. The resources on the web are broad and formidible; make use of them.

Don't get me wrong: Fusion 360 is brilliant; I'm a complete fan and can't imagine using anything else. But, there is a lot to learn if you want to become both efficient and comfortable with it.

I'll suggest two tips which will save you a great deal of grief later:

  1. Always strive to ensure that sketches are fully constrained.
  2. Learn thoroughly how to use projections, then use them consistently. They are "worth their weight in gold" for complex models.

Fusion 360 will pay off handsomly if you take the time to become expert in it.

Ender 3 Subassembly Fusion 360 Linked Archive.


Addendum: A Cautionary Tale
What not to do when capturing a moderately complex model to modify.

When I first began the modifications for my Ender 3, I started with the Filament Guide. I made the decision to mount it on the end of the fastener used for one of the Z-axis rollers, so I began capturing the X Motor Bracket and E Motor Bracket from the Creality open source mechanical drawings.

Along the way I also modeled the left Z axis 4020 extrusion and the left 4040 extrusion frame base rail.

I continued in this manner for each of the mods: when I needed a mod for some part of the Ender 3 not yet modeled (like the extruder stuff), I modeled the Ender 3 frame and components at that point. This proved to be a problem!

What I had inadvertently done was to create artificial dependencies between the Ender 3 frame models and my (later!) modification models. This is definitely a problem and should not have been done because it becomes nearly impossible to remove my modifications from the subassembly.

I hope at some near future date to recapture this subassembly completely—without the later mods. Then, any and all modifications would be modeled on the complete subassembly (probably one at a time). Using that strategy, the subassembly would have no dependencies on the later modifications.

I will update this page when that is complete.