A couple of months ago, I bought Creality’s Ender 3. Great 200 quid printer but oh so noisy! Especially the squeak the steppers made were very annoying and were basically stopping me from printing late evenings and overnights. So I decided to make it ‘shut up’. And I succeeded. And no, I did not fix it by wearing those super big headphones the girl in the picture is wearing 😀

My very first noise fix: stepper motor dampers

Stepper Motor DampersThey’re very effective in isolating the stepper motors from the chassis of the printer, reducing the vibrations/resonation to almost zero. It’s a cheap upgrade, too. I bought mine for less than £4 + P&P on Amazon UK.

Now, depending on which route you choose you may need to either buy additional tools and equipment or 3D print a few mount adaptors that you can find on thingiverse.com.

Here are the tools and equipment if you don’t feel like printing any extras:

  • If the pulleys are press-fitted onto your stepper motor axis then you’ll need a gear puller/remover to pull/move them out a bit so they align with the timing belts. I bought this one; pretty cheap, good quality but the pin bent slightly. Still, it did the job for me just fine.
  • If you want to replace those press-fit pulleys, get a pack of screw-in ones.
  • You’ll also need a couple of M3 30mm screws because the stock ones that come screwed into those stepper motors are too short to hold the dampers. You’ll need 2 for each stepper motor.

And if you want to avoid messing around with the pulleys, print these adaptors:

Be aware that, as with any semi-flexible joints, these dampers can (and often do) introduce artefacts in the prints.

Installing those dampers detaches the stepper motors from the 3D printer’s frame. Your printer’s frame helps dissipating the heat those motors generate.

Make sure to slap a heat sink on each of those stepper motors when you’re done in order to prevent overheating during long prints.

You will need to ‘update’ the one going onto the y-axis motor though or it will collide with the bed and cause issues during homing. Check the image to the right to see what I mean; the cut out part goes upwards.

Another way to quieten the stepper motors (and improve prints at the same time)

With the above said, I started investigating options to reduce noise caused by the stepper motors, which would eliminate the need of the dampers and thus improve print quality.

MKS GEN L 3D printer boardI ended up purchasing MKS GEN L board, along with a set of TMC2208 stepper motor drivers. These TMC2208 drivers are the magic behind a completely silent printing.

This turned out to be an amazing upgrade. Installation of the new board is very easy, especially if you are able to follow instructions in the numerous YouTube videos 🙂

This board is slightly larger than the original one supplied with your Ender 3. You’ll need to print this adaptor case designed by TeachingTech.

…and then there’s the fans

Noctua Silent FanYes, the stock fans are really loud. In fact, up until today they were the loudest component on my Ender 3. I replaced the board compartment and heat break/hot end fan with Noctua 40x40x10 fans. They’re super-silent and yet they provide enough airflow to keep the TMC2208 drivers and the heat break cool. They are slightly pricier but believe me they’re totally worth it.

There is one downside to using these fans though. The Ender 3 runs on 24V but the Noctua fans can only take 12V. Use a stepdown voltage converter, also known as buck converter. It’s a neat little device that takes in the 24V and spits out 12V on the other side (you need to adjust the output voltage using the small rotary potentiometer onboard that converter). There are versions available with an LED/LCD display as well so if you don’t have a voltmeter at home, buy one of these to make your life easier 😉

WARNING: Never ever connect the 12V fans to the buck converter before you adjusted the output voltage. If you do, chances are your fans will burn because they’ll be getting more juice than they’re rated at. 

I’ve yet to replace the parts cooling fan but since it doesn’t run at 100% all the time, it’s not a big issue.

To silent the power supply unit’s fan noise, I printed a shroud that redirects the flow to the back of the printer. Simple and very effective.

Last but in no way the least

Get your Ender 3 some feet! I’m not joking! My 3D printer is sitting on an IKEA KALLAX shelving unit and the vibrations from the printer were causing resonation in the unit as well. The noise was unbelievable.

At first I used the supplied foam that I stuck underneath the printer. And that helped for a while but it did compress over time and lost its damping capability.

So I printed damping feet I found on thingiverse.com. They work like a charm!

That’s it! Enjoy your quiet Ender 3 printer!

Until next time!