I got a new 3D printer

My first 3D printer was a Monoprice Select Mini

It was a Christmas gift from a family friend and one of the greatest gifts I have ever received, that being said it was fairly limited in capability. The build plate was fairly small, the bed was a pain to level, requiring an alan key to adjust, and was prone to issues. Nevertheless, it sparked off my interest in printing and got the job done. Me and a couple buddies ran an underground fidget-spinner black market at our school in 2017 back when they had become the hot new item. I had to have printed at least 50 before we could tell teachers were catching onto us and we decided to close up shop before we got into any trouble. We raked in about $100 net profit and had a blast running our little hustle. Those were good times.

For the rest of high school I barely touched the thing, besides the odd job here and there, mostly due to the pain it was getting everything set up and troubleshooted after being left to collect dust for months or years on end.

Then one day, shortly after moving to Sacramento, I was scouring craigslist when I found a lightly used Creality Ender 3 v1 for sale at the decent price of $100. I thought of all the things I had wanted to print in years past that I couldn't because of the limitations of the mini and quickly jumped on the listing.

This was a huge step up, significantly faster with a larger build plate, with plenty of good information online to support it. I loved the thing, but was still pained every time I needed to manually level the bed, though the adjustment knobs were a welcome addition.

I certainly used it more than the Monoprice, but every time I thought about printing, I again remembered the frustrating process of sliding the paper round and round, trying to get it just right so I didn't carve grooves all over my build plate and damage the extruder nozzle. Then I wanted to start printing in stronger materials besides PLA, in my case PETG, and was really disappointed in its performance. Anything but the simplest of shapes would come out with massive stringing and what felt like a quarter of the time the print would fail. Besides a few bursts where I would pick up interest in printing again, it too just collected dust for the past couple years.

Earlier this month, I was staring at it next to my desk, thinking about how if it just had auto bed-leveling, how much more I would use it. Then an impulsive thought filled my head, I checked my bank account, and justified it to myself to get a new 3D printer.

After a little research, I settled on the Creality Ender 3 KE.

Although there's a bit of hate for Creality online, I really enjoyed my original Ender 3 and for the relatively low price of < $300, I thought it was a worthy investment. The hurdle that always turned me away from printing was the leveling process, so auto-leveling was mandatory for my upgrade. Assembly was a fairly simple, albeit nerve-wracking process.

When I started my first print, I was amazed at how fast it was able to do it. It shipped with the gcode for "Benchie" and a little over 20 minutes later, there was a perfect little plastic boat. The process was so hands-off once I pressed print, no need to babysit the first few layers to ensure proper adhesion, no need to grab any little bits of filament stuck to the nozzle, it just worked. Hell if you slapped an Apple logo on it and painted it white, I would've believed it was from them.

I've done a number of more prints since then, including a euphonium mouthpiece for Roomie's horn and still get blown away at how fast it prints and precise the end product comes out as. I feel that spark for printing I once had again, and I'm eager to keep using this amazing machine.

Kudos to Creality on this amazing product! Highly recommend!

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