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Ender Bender

2019 Creality Ender 5 Plus Review: 10-Hour Testing

Picture of Anatol Locker
by Anatol Locker
Oct 15, 2019

A bigger build volume, a new bed-leveling probe, improved components: The Creality Ender 5 Plus strives to better the Ender 5 3D printer. Read our review to see what we found after 10 hours of testing.

With its extremely popular Ender series, Chinese manufacturer Creality showed the world they can not only build big 3D printers (such as long-time favorite, the CR-10S), but also know how to make cheap, yet reliable machines such as the Ender 5.

Now it has released the Creality Ender 5 Plus, the new flagship of its popular Ender series. We take a deep dive to see how the Ender 5 Plus holds in our 10-hour review.

Creality Ender 5 Plus Review

Feature Check

Image of Creality Ender 5 Plus Review: Feature Check

Here are our experiences with the Ender 5 Plus:

It’s Much Bigger

Well, pretty obvious, isn’t it? While the build volume of the smaller Ender 5 (220 x 220 x 300 mm) is enough for most prints, it is always convenient to have extra space for bigger tasks. The Ender 5 Plus offers precisely that. Its glass bed boasts an area of 350 x 350 mm, while the Z-axis stretches to 400 mm. That‘s bigger than the print volume on a Creality’s CR-10S, which sat at 300 x 300 x 400 mm.

The outside measurements are 632 x 666 x 619 mm, so be prepared to free up some space in your workshop. Thankfully, no components are stored outside of the printer itself; the filament spool and the power supply sit within the frame.

More Stability (and Noise) for the Z-Axis

The printing bed of the Ender 5 is mounted on 4 rods and 2 lead screws (Source: All3DP)
The printing bed of the Ender 5 is mounted on 4 rods and 2 lead screws (Source: All3DP)

The Ender 5 sub-series of printers use a Gantry design, with the print head arranged at the top of the printer. While printing, the bed lowers itself through the Z-axis.

Each axis has a dedicated stepper motor. The Y-axis’ motor drives both belts at the same time. This results in an overall smoother movement and fewer layer shifts. The Z-axes are mounted in the middle of the bed with large 8-mm-rods stabilizing each side – in theory, quite a clever way of getting smooth motions while keeping the stability.

In our test model, we found that these guide rods weren’t lubricated, resulting in an unpleasant grinding and squeaking noise. After applying some lube, things got a little better, but the printer wasn’t exactly quiet.

One of the biggest drawbacks of tall fused filament fabrication (FFF) printers is Z-wobble, resulting in visible layer lines. This printing failure mostly occurs when the Z-axis rods aren’t perfectly straight or incorrectly mounted.

Creality tries to solve the problem by not only throwing in a second rod but four. In addition to the two lead screws appended to the Z-axis stepper motors (one on each side), four smooth rods – one for each corner of the bed – function as guides for the bed’s travel. This should mean you get more coherent layers, even in taller prints.

Bed Leveling Probe Woes

The probe is mounted to the left side of the extruder. This makes it problematic to measure the right outer edges of the print bed. (Source: All3DP)

Auto-leveling is pretty uncommon on stock Ender printers. For the Ender 5 Plus, Creality threw in an Antclabs’ contact-triggered BLTouch proximity sensor (check out our BLTouch sensors guide here.) It is supposed to assist you in the bed-leveling process: The probe physically measures the bed; the Marlin-firmware then is capable of compensating for uneven spots.

Yet, leveling the bed turned out to be quite problematic. As the probe is mounted seven centimeters left of the extruder, measuring just physically doesn’t work. The placement of the probe makes it impossible to measure the entire bed, so roughly two-thirds of the plate is being measured, while the rest can’t be accessed. A firmware upgrade promised to deliver a solution but didn’t address the problem.

That being said, Creality is known to iterate the machines very fast, so you might see the probe mounted in a different position soon.

And as an alternative, you still can level the bed by hand (which we did for this 10-hour review.)

Additional Notes

  • Filament sensor and power failure resume are commonplace now, making a welcome return in the Ender 5 Plus.
  • The Ender 5 Plus features a V2.2 Creality mainboard, not cutting edge and a little restrictive if you wish to upgrade things later, but a capable board that also works well for the Ender 3 and Ender 3 Pro.
  • The machine came pre-built and was up and running in an hour.
Creality Ender 5 Plus Review

Benchmarking

Image of Creality Ender 5 Plus Review: Benchmarking

To get a good first impression for our Creality Ender 5 Plus review, we printed the two most popular torture tests on a new, freshly unboxed and unaltered machine, using PLA filament and averaged slicer settings for the ranges specified for the material.

Benchmarking Object 1: Benchy

Although the model itself was dimensionally accurate, layer lines were clearly visible. (Source: All3DP)

We used white eSun PLA+ filament. For preparing the needed G-code, we used the slicing software Creality included on the provided SD card. Unfortunately, with no printer profile provided for the software, we had to modify the original Ender 5’s profile and adjust to the proper dimensions of the Ender 5 Plus – something Creality should fix as soon as possible. We set the hot end temperature to 215 °C, and the bed to 60 °C.

It took us one attempt to 3D print a Benchy.

Besides the inconsistent layers, the Benchy turned out good (Source: All3DP)

We measured the physical dimensions of the print. The Creality Ender 5 Plus achieved a perfect 15 out of 15 points. Yet but we found several problems at the visual inspection.

  • Surfaces: As you can see in the image above, the obvious problem we found were the layers. They layer lines were off in the Z-Dimension, indicating either mechanical friction of the Z-axis or the belts (which were tight, though). Also, we encountered minor extrusion errors, mainly some zits and blobs, which typically can be corrected in the 3D slicing problems.
  • Details: When it came to printing details, the Ender 5 Plus did well. Even the Benchy’s plaque, which is notoriously difficult to print clearly, is visible. Also, the chimney was printed round and well.
  • Overall consistency: The general consistency of the print was fine, with no under- or over-extrusion to be found. The Benchy’s hawsepipe and bridge windows were also consistent.

Benchmarking Object 2: Kickstarter Autodesk Test

This print is one of the highest-scoring Kickstarter-Test we ever printed (Source: All3DP)

The Autodesk Kickstarter test model looks at an FDM printer’s precision. We used the same white eSun PLA+ filament and the same temperature settings (215 / 60.)

One of the few flaws on this Test is the failed top bridge (image: All3DP)

With a score of 27 of 30 points, the Creality Ender 5 Plus did exceptionally well. Measuring aside, while inspecting the printer test visually, we found several problems:

  • Surfaces: Our test print warped on the first layers. Overall, the surfaces turned out to be a little crude and wavy.
  • Details: Positive: The spikes turned out very well, with nearly no stringing. Negative: The negative lettering was hard to read.
  • Consistency: The overall consistency impression was only mediocre, mostly because of the layer lines and uneven surfaces, especially on the overhangs.
Creality Ender 5 Plus Review

Benchmarking Verdict

While the physical dimensions of our test prints are excellent, the visual inspection of the prints showed some flaws. Some of them can be directly linked to slicing settings. Other printing errors (like the inconsistent layers), you’d have to dig deeper and start experimenting with slicer settings.

After approx. 10-hours printing with the Creality Ender 5 Plus, color us cautiously interested. With such a large built volume to play with, the prospect of printing big is exciting. While the Ender 5 Plus sings with the accuracy of its prints, it’s clear some work is needed on the part of the user to achieve optically pleasant prints.

If you want to know in detail how we benchmark, please continue here.

Creality Ender 5 Plus Review

Technical Specifications

Image of Creality Ender 5 Plus Review: Technical Specifications

General Specs

  • Technology: FFF
  • Year: 2019
  • Assembly: Semi-assembled
  • Mechanical arrangement: Cartesian XY-head
  • Manufacturer: Creality

3D Printing Properties

  • Build volume: 350 x 350 x 400 mm
  • Accuracy: 100 Micron
  • Extruder type: Single nozzle
  • Nozzle size: 0.4 mm
  • Max. extruder temperature: 260 °C
  • Max. heated bed temperature: 110 °C
  • Positioning accuracy: n/a
  • Printing Speed: n/a
  • Print chamber: Open
  • Bed leveling: Semi-automatic
  • Connectivity: Online web interface, SD card
  • Build-in camera for monitoring: No

Materials

  • Filament diameter: 1.75 mm
  • 3rd party filaments: Yes
  • Compatible materials: PLA, ABS, TPU, composite filaments
Creality Ender 5 Plus Review

Where to Buy

Image of Creality Ender 5 Plus Review: Where to Buy

Currently, the Creality Ender 5 Plus is available from Creality’s International Store. You can find the link below. At the time of writing, the price is $549.00 USD.

Creality Ender 5 Plus Review

Benchmarking Results

Image of Creality Ender 5 Plus Review: Benchmarking Results

Here you find the detailed results for the Creality Ender 5 Plus test prints. For our benchmarking procedure, please click here.

Benchy

  1. Overall length (60 mm ±1 % tolerance): 59.84 mm, 1 point given
  2. Overall width (31 mm ±1 % tolerance): 31.10 mm, 1 point given
  3. Bridge Roof length (23 mm ±1 % tolerance): 23.02 mm, 1 point given
  4. Chimney roundness inner diameter (3 mm ±10 %): 2.85 mm, 1 point given
  5. Chimney roundness outer diameter (7 mm ± 5 % tolerance): 6.88 mm, 1 point given
  6. Vertical overall-height (48 mm ±1 % tolerance): 47.94 mm, 1 point given
  7. Box depth (9 mm ± 5 % tolerance): 9.00 mm, 1 point given
  8. Box inner length (7 mm ± 5 % tolerance): 7.07 mm, 1 point given
  9. Box outer length (10.81 ± 5 % tolerance): 10.94 mm, 1 point given
  10. Box outer width (12 mm ± 5 % tolerance): 11.93 mm, 1 point given
  11. Box inner width: (9 mm ± 5 % tolerance): 8.01 mm, 1 point given
  12. Hawsepipe inner diameter left (4 mm ±10 % tolerance): 3.65 mm, 1 point given
  13. Hawsepipe inner diameter right (4 mm ±10 % tolerance): 3.70 mm, 1 point given
  14. Bridge front window width (10.5 mm ±5 % tolerance): 10.40 mm, 1 point given
  15. Rear window inner diameter (9 mm ±5 % tolerance): 8.91 mm, 1 point given

Kickstarter Autodesk Test

  1. Dimensional Accuracy: 5 of 5 points (24.94 / 19.91 / 15.11 / 10.08 / 4.84)
  2. Fine Flow Control: 5 points (all spires were printed without stringing)
  3. Fine Negative Features: 5 points (all five pins were removable)
  4. Overhangs: 3 points (dropped loops began at the 20-degree overhang)
  5. Bridging: 4 points (1 bridge contacted the surfaces beneath them)
  6. XY Resonance: 2.5 points (no ringing detectable)
  7. Z-axis alignment: 2.5 points (layer registration effect not visible)

Overall, the Creality Ender 5 Plus scored 42 out of 45 points.

Creality Ender 5 Plus Review

How we Benchmark

For the benchmarking element of our review, we use the following guidelines:

Unbox the printer: We unbox the printer and assemble it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Deficiencies and errors are noted and build around according to the consensus online for the printer.

Filament: We use white eSun PLA+ filament. Temperature settings are 215 °C for the nozzle and 60 °C for the bed.

Printing: We print two test models — Benchy and the Kickstarter x Autodesk FDM 3D Printer Assessment — using the manufacturer-provided/recommended slicer and settings. If the printer ships without a dedicated slicer and profile, we generate a generic Cura profile using the essential information of the printer.

After the first print, we inspect the object for easily fixable problems (i.e., a loose belt or a poorly leveled print bed) and then print again. If the printer can’t provide a decent result after three attempts, we stop. Printers that fail to produce a test object receive zero points for the respective test object.

1. Benchy

The Benchy 3D printer torture test is one of the world’s most popular prints. It helps to measure the dimensional accuracy capabilities of your printer and helps highlight other visible print nastiness.

We measure our best Benchy print using digital calipers, scoring 15 criteria against their target value. A total of 15 points are available.

  1. Overall length: 60 mm
  2. Overall width: 31 mm
  3. Bridge Roof length: 23 mm
  4. Chimney roundness inner diameter: 3 mm
  5. Chimney roundness outer diameter: 7 mm
  6. Vertical overall-height: 48 mm
  7. Box depth: 9 mm
  8. Box inner length: 7 mm
  9. Box outer length: 10.81
  10. Box outer width: 12 mm
  11. Box inner width: 9 mm
  12. Hawsepipe inner diameter left: 4 mm
  13. Hawsepipe inner diameter right: 4 mm
  14. Bridge front window width: 10.5 mm
  15. Rear window inner diameter: 9 mm

To accommodate the difficulty and inaccuracies when measuring small features, we have implemented a sliding scale of tolerance in our scoring. The smaller the feature, the greater our allowance for deviation:

  • 60 mm to 23 mm: 1 percent tolerance allowed
  • 23 mm to 7 mm: 5 percent tolerance allowed
  • 7 mm to 0 mm: 10 percent tolerance allowed

Finally, we do a visual inspection.

2. Kickstarter x Autodesk FDM 3D Printer Assessment

The Kickstarter x Autodesk print exposes an FDM printer’s precision via six distinct tests in one object.

By pushing a printer’s hardware and software the system to the point of failure, the print reliably visible imperfections that can be used to assess the performance of the slicer, the extruder, and the motion system together.

The Kickstarter Autodesk test 3D printer test (image: Kickstarter)

Here’s what’s getting measured.

  • Dimensional Accuracy
  • Fine Flow Control
  • Fine Negative Features
  • Overhangs
  • Bridging
  • XY Resonance
  • Z-axis alignment

The tolerances and measurements are very detailed. You can find the exact measuring procedure on Github. The highest possible score is 30, indicating a very well-calibrated system.

It’s worth noting that these benchmarking tests are not a definitive measure of a printer’s worth. More an indication of a printer’s state out of the box with no-tinkering, it’s only after a full evaluation and in-depth review that we fully judge a 3D printer.

License: The text of "2019 Creality Ender 5 Plus Review: 10-Hour Testing" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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