Even though PLA is the most popular filament and the filament that everyone starts their 3D printing journey with due to being the easiest one to print, the shortcomings of PLA eventually prompt most 3D printing enthusiasts also to add PETG to their arsenal to be able to have more flexibility.
On the other hand, even though PETG still falls into the territory of filaments that are easy to print, it does come with a different set of requirements compared to PLA, meaning that it’s not possible to successfully print PETG by using the configuration that is intended for PLA.
In today’s article, we will be discussing the process of configuring the print settings as optimally as possible for printing PETG, which essentially is the most popular filament after PLA due to the benefits it brings while still being easy to print, explicitly with the Ender 3, Creality’s most popular 3D printer on the market right now.
So, what are the optimal PETG settings for the Ender 3?
Below, you can find the settings that we recommend using for printing PETG with the Ender 3:
- Nozzle Temperature – 220 to 240 degrees Celsius
- Bed Temperature – 50 to 70 degrees Celsius
- Print Speed – 40 to 60 millimeters per second
- Layer Height – 0.24 mm
- Initial Layer Height – 0.28 mm
- Fan Speed – 0% to 100% (lower for strength, higher for visual quality, bridges, and overhangs)
- Retraction Distance – 5 to 7 millimeters (assuming stock Bowden extruder)
- Retraction Speed – 20 to 30 millimeters per second
- Retraction Minimum Travel – 1 to 2 millimeters
Next up, we will be diving deeper into each of the settings you will need to configure to print PETG optimally with the Ender 3, find out whether a stock Ender 3 can successfully print PETG, go through the process of saving PETG-specific settings for the Ender 3 in Cura, and finally, troubleshoot the common issues of PETG stringing and PETG not sticking to the print bed.
Optimal Ender 3 (Pro/V2) PETG Settings – Explained
Since every single parameter can easily make or break your print, in this section, we will be analyzing each of the settings that require configuration to print PETG as optimally as possible to clarify the entire adjustment process.
The nozzle temperature is always the first parameter that comes to mind when configuring print settings for a new type of filament, as it directly affects many factors related to the success of the 3D printing process.
While our nozzle temperature recommendation for printing PETG with the Ender 3 is a range of 220 to 240 degrees Celsius, the best way to ensure that you’re using the correct nozzle temperature is to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines whenever they are available.
If you come across symptoms of over-extrusion such as stringing and blobbing, or a scenario where the filament ends up burning, re-adjust the temperature to be closer to the lower end of the range.
On the other hand, if you’re facing signs such as under-extrusion, filament grinding, and nozzle clogging, it might be a sign that the temperature you’re using is too low, meaning that you should re-adjust the value to be closer to the higher end instead.
While the filament manufacturer can recommend nozzle temperatures that go all the way up to 250°C, we highly recommend against using a nozzle temperature value above 240°C with the stock Ender 3, as the PTFE lining in the extruder will start decomposing at such temperatures, causing damage to the 3D printer and potentially creating a hazardous situation.
The bed temperature value is one of the primary factors that determine how well the first layer of plastic, which essentially acts as the foundation for the rest of the 3D printed model, will adhere to the build plate, making it another essential parameter to configure correctly.
We recommend utilizing a bed temperature value that falls in the range of 50 to 70 degrees Celsius for printing PETG with the Ender 3, but once again, if the manufacturer of the filament you’re using has specified a particular bed temperature value that you should use, we recommend going with that value instead.
In cases where you’re facing issues related to the bed adhesion, such as warping, where the first few layers of the 3D printed model end up lifting from the corners and separating from the print bed, you will need to re-adjust the bed temperature value to be closer to the higher end.
On the other hand, upon the appearance of signs such as the first few layers of the remaining melted, and as a result, getting squashed by the upcoming layers, which creates the issue known as elephant’s foot, decreasing the bed temperature to be closer to the lower end of the range will be necessary.
The print speed value determines how quickly the printhead moves as it extrudes the filament, which plays a vital role in the quality of the 3D printed model due to its impact on factors such as layer adhesion and the actual rate of extrusion.
Our recommendation for printing PETG with the Ender 3 is to utilize a print speed value between 40 and 60 millimeters per second, which will ensure that your model is printed quickly enough without losing quality.
If you’re having issues related to the quality of the model when using a value within this range, opting for a figure that is closer to the lower end of this range can be helpful in improving the quality of your print.
On the other hand, if you’re not having any quality issues related to the print speed, experimenting with higher values and finding the one that is as high as possible is best, as it will allow your 3D printer to conclude the printing process much faster.
The layer height value essentially offers a trade-off between the quality of your 3D printed model and the amount of time it will take to print it, which makes it one of the parameters that require a balanced configuration for success.
Our layer height recommendation for printing PETG with the Ender 3 is 0.24 millimeters, which we have found to be a balanced value that will allow your Ender 3 to conduct the printing process quickly enough while producing a high-quality 3D printed model.
As lower layer heights don’t exactly perform well when printing with PETG, our recommendation would be to go down to 0.20 millimeters at most if you would like to perform slight improvements to the surface quality of your 3D printed model at the expense of increased print time.
Initial Layer Height
The initial layer height value is one of the critical components of printing a successful first layer, as it directly determines how thick the first layer of the 3D printed model will be, which plays an essential role in bed adhesion.
Our initial layer height recommendation for printing PETG with the Ender 3 is 0.28 millimeters, which will ensure that the 3D printer produces a healthy first layer that does not suffer from any bed adhesion problems.
Aside from the benefits that it brings to the bed adhesion, a thicker initial layer height is also helpful to compensate for any tilt in the surface that could otherwise cause the print to fail.
Fan Speed (Cooling)
The cooling fan speed determines how quickly the fans spin to cool the melted plastic down once it exits the nozzle, which is another parameter that requires balanced tuning for optimal layer adhesion and surface quality.
When it comes to fan speed, any value between 0% and 100% is perfectly suitable when printing PETG with the Ender 3, as correctly configuring the fan speed value primarily comes down to the scenario.
In a nutshell, in cases where you would like to ensure that the layer adhesion is as strong as possible, such as when printing functional components, it’s best to stay as close as possible to the lower end of the range to give the layers enough time to form strong bonds.
On the other hand, in cases where surface quality is the priority, such as when printing decorative objects, using a high fan speed will be more suitable since cooling the plastic as quickly as possible will ensure that details are not lost as a result of the plastic staying in its melted state for too long.
We highly recommend turning the fan off for the first few layers of the print, regardless of the purpose of the model you’re printing, as cooling the first few layers way too quickly can easily cause warping to occur.
Retraction refers to the action of the 3D printer pulling the filament back from the nozzle at particular points of the printing process to prevent the plastic from oozing out of the nozzle, with the retraction parameters determining factors such as the distance and the speed at which retractions occur.
We recommend going with a retraction distance of 5 to 7 millimeters, a retraction speed of 20 to 30 millimeters per second, and a retraction minimum travel value of 1 to 2 millimeters for printing PETG with the Ender 3.
If you’re experiencing stringing, reducing the minimum travel value to ensure that retractions are occurring whenever necessary and increasing the retraction distance to ensure that the filament is being pulled back far enough are the first things to do.
On the other hand, if under-extrusion occurs as a result of applying retraction, reducing the retraction distance is the first step you will need to take, as it means that the 3D printer is not able to push the filament forward enough after a retraction.
As a rule of thumb, using the highest value possible for retraction speed where filament grinding does not occur will be the most beneficial, as it will reduce the amount of time lost during retractions.
Can the Stock Ender 3 (Pro/V2) Print PETG Successfully?
As the compatibility between the filament and the hardware of the 3D printer is just as important as configuring the print settings correctly, it’s essential to ensure that your 3D printer can print the filament successfully with its stock hardware before moving forward with a print.
The stock Ender 3 is indeed capable of successfully printing PETG filament, as it comes with a hotend that is fully capable of supplying the temperature that PETG requires to melt and a heated bed that is practically the only necessity for PETG to adhere to the print bed strongly enough.
Considering that PETG is one of the least-demanding filaments in terms of hardware, not requiring the more advanced components that you won’t find in budget 3D printers by default, such as an enclosure or an all-metal hotend for a successful 3D printing process, you can rest assured that you won’t have face issues related to the Ender 3 when printing PETG.
How to Configure PETG-Specific Settings for the Ender 3 (Pro/V2) in Cura?
Permanently saving the settings after performing the necessary optimizations is a surefire way to ensure that you don’t lose the configuration, also allowing you to load the settings back whenever necessary, such as in the case of a filament switch.
Below, you can find a step-by-step guide that you can follow to configure PETG-specific settings for the Ender 3 in Cura:
- Navigate to the Prepare tab of Cura by clicking the corresponding tab at the top of the Cura window.
- Click the pane in the middle, which will bring up Material settings.
- Click the dropdown menu labeled as Material.
- Hover over the Generic option in the dropdown, and choose PETG from the list.
- Click the pane on the right to find the Print Settings dialog.
- Click the Custom button if it’s visible; else, skip this step.
- Click the dropdown labeled Profile, and choose one of the default Cura profiles to act as the baseline.
- Apply the PETG-specific configuration of your choice through the Print Settings dialog.
- Click the dropdown labeled Profile once again, but choose the “Create profile from current settings/overrides…” option this time.
- Give a name to the custom profile you have just created, and click OK.
PETG Stringing with the Ender 3 (Pro/V2) – What to Do?
While stringing is one of the most common issues you can encounter while printing with PETG when you’re first starting, it’s possible to eliminate the problem in a straightforward manner by quickly correcting the parts of the configuration that is responsible.
Below, you can find our tips for eliminating the occurrence of stringing when printing PETG filament with the Ender 3:
- Increase the retraction speed.
- Increase the retraction distance.
- Decrease the retraction minimum travel.
- Increase the travel speed.
- Decrease the nozzle temperature.
- Enable the Combing feature.
- Enable the Coasting feature.
- Enable the Vertical Lift (Z-Hop) feature.
- Enable the Wiping feature.
- Dry the filament spool.
PETG Not Sticking to Bed with the Ender 3 (Pro/V2) – What to Do?
Similar to stringing, PETG not sticking to bed is another common issue that you can face, which once again largely stems from issues related to the configuration that can be fixed on the software side of things more often than not.
Below, we have listed the solutions we recommend applying to get your PETG to stick to the print bed of your Ender 3 without issues:
- Increase the bed temperature value.
- Increase the hotend temperature value.
- Decrease the cooling fan speed for the first few layers.
- Clean the print bed thoroughly.
- Ensure that the print bed is correctly leveled.
- Ensure that the Z offset value is configured correctly.
- Increase the first layer height.
- Add a brim.
- Dry the filament spool.
- Use a PEI build surface.
Even though PETG is one of the less challenging filaments to print successfully, meaning that it can be possible to get away with sub-optimal configuration, adjusting the core configuration to be as optimal as possible is always what you should strive to do to ensure that the final product you obtain is high-quality.
To quickly recap, our temperature recommendations for printing PETG with the Ender 3 would be 220-240°C for the nozzle and 50°C-70°C for the print bed, combined with a print speed value between 40-60 mm/s.
Regarding layer height configuration, a layer height value of 0.24 mm, combined with an initial layer height value of 0.28 mm, is what we recommend for a successful print.
For retraction, we recommend staying between the range of 5-7 mm for the distance, 20-30 mm/s for the speed, and 1-2 mm for the minimum travel value, provided that you’re using the default Bowden extruder of your Ender 3.
Finally, when it comes to cooling, it’s possible to use any fan speed value from 0% to 100%, based on the scenario, where higher values will provide your model with better surface quality, and lower values will ensure that the layer adhesion is as strong as possible.
Mike started his 3D printing journey with the Anet A8 when it first came out back in 2017, and has been obsessed with 3D printers ever since. Nowadays, he primarily uses his Ender 3 to print functional parts that make his life more convenient whenever possible.