Before we dive into the features that differentiate 3D printers, it’s worth asking why we decided to focus on Creality. The main reason is that Creality printers are known for their ease of use and overall quality.
The process of going from an unopened Creality printer to a setup that’s ready to print is typically very short compared to other 3D printer brands. Most users report spending just an hour setting up a new printer and calibrating it. Better yet, Creality printers are built so that you don’t have to get the adjustments absolutely perfect to produce good prints. That means that you can focus on bringing your designs to life as quickly as possible rather than wasting time on endless tweaks.
Another thing to like about Creality is that the company’s printers are reliable. Creality 3D printers are trusted by professional print shops that run their machines 24/7. They rarely need to be taken offline for repairs, which means that you don’t end up spending more money on your printer.
It’s nice that Creality is such a major player in the 3D printing world. An ever-increasing number of designs can be printed using Creality machines. If you want to add more capabilities to your printer, Creality makes a wide variety of accessories and there are plenty of third-party components that are compatible with the company’s equipment.
Features to consider before you buy a 3D printer
If you’re new to the world of 3D printers, it can be hard to know what all the specs mean. To help you navigate the technical jargon, we’ll identify the most important features of Creality 3D printers you need to know about and help you decide which one is right for you.
What do you want to print? Printer style
Perhaps the best place to start with choosing a Creality 3D printer is to figure out what style of printer you need. There are several different types that vary in capabilities and cost.
The most basic 3D printer style is a Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) printer. Several of the Creality printers we reviewed, including the CR-10S and Ender 5 Pro, are FDM printers. These models are often favored by beginners because they are relatively affordable.
However, FDM printers do have some drawbacks. These printers operate by heating filament and extruding it into the desired shape. The problem is that when you create layers, the filament forms blocky lines as it is stacked on top of itself. So, you may need to spend a fair amount of time smoothing the exterior of your product with an FDM printer.
A stereolithography (SLA) printer uses a process called photo-solidification to create layers. This is a light-driven chemical reaction that causes the resin to solidify in place. SLA printers have largely been replaced by Digital Light Processing (DLP) printers, which uses a variation on the same solidification technique to build resin layers. Compared to prints from an FDM machine, prints from an SLA or DLP printer are extremely smooth.
The Creality LD-002R is another type of printer, known as an LCD 3D printer. The technology is very similar to a DLP printer, except that the light source used is an ultraviolet LCD light. LCD printers like the LD-002R are much more expensive than FDM printers, but they can create much more precise prints with much smoother layering.
Materials you’ll need to print
What material you’ll use to create your 3D prints depends in large part on the style of 3D printer you use. FDM printers require filament, while SLA, DLP, and LCD printers require resin.
Notably, most FDM printers enable you to use a wide variety of filament materials. For example, the Creality Ender 3 V2 is compatible with PLA, ABS, TPU, and PETG filaments. Each of these materials has different properties that can affect your print.
PLA, for example, is excellent for prints that will be used or displayed indoors. This material degrades in sunlight, so it’s not suitable for outdoor use. PETG is a food-safe material, which opens up options to create food storage containers (make sure to finish your print with food-grade epoxy first). ABS is incredibly sturdy, but it can be hard to work with because it produces toxic fumes and requires a lot of heat to set properly.
It’s easy to focus on the hardware when choosing a 3D printer. After all, that’s where the magic is happening. But it’s also critically important to think about what software you can use with your 3D printer.
The software will determine what designs you can create and how easy it is to dial in your 3D prints.
Most Creality 3D printers come with the Creality Cloud software, which enables you to print designs remotely if your printer is connected to WiFi. In addition, specific printers may come with slicing software to help you get more out of your printer. The Ender 3 V2 comes with the open-source slicing software Cura, although you can download this for free for use with any Creality printer.
The printing size of a 3D printer is a measure of the maximum dimensions it can print. Typically, this maximum comes from the tracks that the printer head is on. Those tracks are only so long, and they put a hard limit on the maximum length, width, and height of any single print.
This is a major difference among the Creality 3D printers we reviewed. The LCD LD-002R can only print in a very small space, measuring just 2.6 inches on the smallest horizontal axis. Meanwhile, the Creality CR-10S can make prints that are up to 11.8 inches across both horizontal axes and up to 15.7 inches tall.
The maximum printing speed of a 3D printer defines how quickly the printer can lay down filament or resin. You’ll typically only approach the maximum speed for test prints, since faster prints are typically less accurate.
All of Creality’s FDM printers are capable of laying down filament at a blazing rate of seven inches per second. By contrast, the LCD printer LD-002R can only lay down one inch per hour – it’s more than 100 times slower because it uses a chemical reaction to fix resin in place.
Safety and user-friendly features
3D printers are generally safe to use, but it’s still important to consider safety features. After all, this is hot electrical equipment with a lot of moving parts. Automatic nozzle cooling and automatic shutoff for the heated bed when a job is finished printing can save you from being burned.
Ease of use is also important, and there are many features that Creality has introduced to help you get better prints. For example, look for a print resume function so that you can pause a print and return to it seamlessly without starting over. If the nozzle is able to automatically retract while the job is paused, that can prevent excess filament from oozing onto your print.
It’s also worth looking for a heated bed. The first few layers of your print are often the most critical to the overall print quality. A heated bed ensures that those initial layers are firmly in place and formed perfectly.
One of the nice things about Creality 3D printers is that they don’t break the bank. The units we looked at range from under $200 for the LD-002R to just over $450 for the CR-10S. The Ender printers fall in the middle of that range and provide a great value for first-time 3D creators.