There is no denying that SD cards are one of the most convenient ways to store and transfer data between devices due to their compatibility with almost any device, ranging from computers to digital cameras, largely thanks to their small physical size.
In the context of 3D printing, yet another device that utilizes SD cards for storage is the Ender 3, which allows us to quickly migrate the sliced model files from the computer to the 3D printer, and makes it possible to start the printing process within seconds of slicing.
In today’s article, we will be discovering the maximum SD card size that the Ender 3 can support without any issues, which is an easy-to-overlook but integral part of the 3D printing process, as an SD card that isn’t correctly supported by the Ender 3 can cause the printing process to fail, or even prevent it from starting at all.
So, what is the maximum SD card size that the Ender 3 can handle?
While any SD card size should technically work for your Ender 3, as there is nothing that says otherwise, we recommend an SD card that is no larger than 8 GB to avoid potential issues since there are many reports in the community about larger SD cards not operating correctly.
Moving forward, we will dive deeper into how the maximum SD card size the Ender 3 supports plays a role in SD card selection, take a quick look at the minimum SD card size for the Ender 3, find out what type of SD card is suitable for the Ender 3, and finally, see whether an SD card adapter is required for SD card operation.
Table of Contents
What Is the Max SD Card Size for the Ender 3 (Pro/V2)?
The maximum SD card size that the Ender 3 supports is a vital factor to consider before picking up a new SD card for your 3D printing journey, as attempting to use an incompatible SD card will prevent the Ender 3 from reading it.
Since 8 GB SD cards are relatively uncommon nowadays due to many reasons, such as 64 GB and 128 GB cards providing a lot better value for money and the primary usage areas of SD cards requiring a lot more space than 8 GB, many 3D printing enthusiasts naturally opt for higher-capacity cards instead.
Unfortunately, there have been many reports in the community about SD card-related problems from 3D printing enthusiasts who attempted to use such high-capacity cards in their Ender 3 3D printers, such as the SD card causing the printing process to freeze or not being detected at all by the Ender 3.
As a result, even though you won’t find anything about a hard SD card capacity limit for your Ender 3 in the official documentation, we highly recommend avoiding using an SD card with a higher capacity than 8 gigabytes for the best results and peace of mind.
While attempting to use a higher-capacity card doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be facing problems, we would recommend staying on the safe side to avoid issues down the line that can make things more complicated.
What Is the Minimum SD Card Size for the Ender 3 (Pro/V2)?
The minimum size of the SD card is another significant factor to consider in the process of SD card selection for your Ender 3, as going with an SD card that has too little space can prove to be problematic for the 3D printing process.
Technically speaking, assuming that you will be using the SD card to print a standard single 3D model that is regularly sized, it’s highly unlikely that you will need an SD card larger than 1 GB for your Ender 3, which is practically the smallest Micro SD card you can easily find on the market.
As we can even consider a G-code file larger than 100 MB in size to be out of the ordinary, a 1 GB SD card will most likely allow you to store multiple G-code files without any issues whenever necessary.
On the other hand, let’s consider an extreme case for science and a bit of fun and assume that you will be attempting to print the largest G-code file possible with your Ender 3.
In this case, as 4 GB is the maximum size for a singular file due to the FAT32 filesystem limits, the biggest G-code file you can print would have to be 4 GB, meaning that with a 4 GB SD card, you can practically print anything considering that you’re only using the SD card to store one G-code file.
Please note that the minimum SD card size you will need will technically vary depending on factors such as the size of the G-code files you’ll be printing (which increases as the model gets larger in size and becomes more intricate) and the number of G-code files you would like to store, which we would consider to be complex scenarios that we can’t use in our assumptions.
Which Type of SD Card Does the Ender 3 (Pro/V2) Use?
As a few distinct types of SD cards came out as the technology progressed, every SD card type can’t fit every SD card slot, meaning that purchasing the wrong kind of SD card will make it impossible to insert it into your Ender 3.
The Ender 3 features a slot for a Micro SD card, which essentially is the most popular SD card variant that you can commonly see being used in devices such as Android smartphones, portable gaming consoles, drones, and digital cameras.
As the Micro SD card’s size is entirely different from a regular SD card and a Mini SD card, anything that isn’t a Micro SD card won’t fit into the slot of your Ender 3 due to size incompatibilities, which will allow you to quickly find out whether the SD card you have at hand is suitable or not.
Do You Need an SD Card to Micro SD Card Adapter for the Ender 3 (Pro/V2)?
An SD card to micro SD card adapter allows you to insert a standard SD card into a micro SD card slot, which is the type of slot you will find on your Ender 3.
An SD Card to Micro SD card adapter is only necessary if you are planning to use a regular SD card that won’t fit into the slot of the Ender 3 under normal circumstances and won’t be required if you have a Micro SD card at hand that you can use in your Ender 3.
Unless you have a specific reason for wanting to use a regular SD card in your Ender 3, we recommend purchasing a Micro SD card instead of a Micro SD card adapter for your SD card as the prices won’t be too different, and using a Micro SD card will be a much smoother experience.
While a minor thing that isn’t frequently mentioned, the size of the SD card is indeed something that can prevent you from successfully printing with your Ender 3 in some cases, making it vital to ensure that the SD card you utilize is the correct size.
To quickly recap, while there is no official limitation on the maximum SD card size that the Ender 3 can utilize, our recommendation would be to go for an SD card with a capacity of 8 gigabytes at most to avoid potential SD card-related problems that usually don’t have an explanation.
Considering that a file in a FAT32 partition can be 4 GB at most, an 8 GB SD card will allow you even to fit the largest G-code file possible twice over, meaning that it’s practically impossible for you to experience any size-related issues as long as you’re storing a singular 3D model in the card.
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.