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Printer Guide| Creality Leveling-free CR-6 SE 3D Printer: In-depth Review from its Appearance to its Performance

It is the 15th day since Creality CR-6 SE debut Kickstarter.  The project has achieved nearly 2,500% funded by about 7,000 backers. And... it is also surprising that Creality CR-6 SE jumps to the home page of Kickstarter today, which means the new workhorse is catching more attention from the community.  What makes the CR-6 SE such a stellar?
 
Creality CR-6 SE: Appearance
The latest Creality printer is a standard Cartesian printer, with the print bed on the y-axis moving from front to back and the x-axis moving from left to right. Both axles are moved with a stepper motor and timing belt along a 2020 profile in which a trolley with pulley wheels runs. For the y-axis this is the frame for the heated bed and for the x-axis it is the extruder. The z-axis lifts the complete x-axis and uses two propeller shafts, each with its own stepper motor.
 
The two z axes are coupled by a toothed belt to prevent the x axis from skewing. With the Ender-3, the x-axis is held up by only one propeller shaft, and although that does not cause many problems in practice, a double z-axis is so stable. With modifications such as a direct-drive extruder and / or linear rails, the x-axis becomes a lot heavier, so that double z-axis can come in handy.
 


The print bed rests on the y-axis and Creality has tried to make your life more pleasant here. For stability of the platform, the y-axis, or its aluminum profile, has been widened, so that the print bed does not tilt quickly. The print bed is directly attached to the carrier slide, where many printers, including the Ender-3, mount the bed with spring-loaded screws. That's to be able to align the bed, but as we'll see, that's not necessary with the CR-6 SE.
 
The x-axis is fairly standard and is very similar to that of other Creality printers like the Ender-3. The system to tighten the drive belt, including that of the y-axis, has been adjusted. Instead of a pulley wheel on an adjustable bracket, the CR-6 SE has a belt tensioner with a rotary knob. That makes it a lot easier to make fine adjustments to the tension on the belt and thus tweak away artifacts.
 


The entire printer has a fairly polished appearance. It seems much more of a consumer product than previous Creality printers. This is reflected in the assembly, if you can still call it that. It does not involve much more than mounting the a-frame on the chassis, screwing in a job of four bolts. You just have to attach the display to the frame with two screws, click the filament holder, insert a few cables and you are ready to print.
 
Creality CR-6 SE: Practice
For 3d printers, the most important and often most difficult operation is leveling the print bed. With the aforementioned spring-loaded screws, you must ensure that the bed and the extruder move in parallel in two directions, so that there is always the same distance between nozzle and bed. Also known as tramming, this process is a painstaking, time-consuming, and sometimes frustrating task, especially if something is not quite right about your printer.
 
With the CR-6 SE that is a thing of the past. As mentioned, the bed is fixed to the y-slide with fixed spacers, so there is no chance of the position going slowly. You do not have to level the bed yourself, because that happens automatically. The printer is equipped with a piezoelectric sensor, which detects when the print head hits the bed. This makes it possible not only to detect the bed, but also to apply mesh leveling. The printer then divides the print bed into surfaces, in this case sixteen, and measures the height of each surface, so that any variation in the print bed is eliminated.
 


In addition to the piezo sensor, an optical sensor for the z-axis is also available as a failsafe, so that the extruder cannot be pushed through the glass bed. That bed is made of carborundum, better known as silicon carbide. This produces beautiful, smooth prints and prints simply release from the building board when it has cooled down. A nice addition is the attachment of that plate. In the Ender-3, for example, the building plate is attached with metal spring clips, the kind that is also used to hold paper together. The CR-6 SE has small metal clips on the back, but the front glass is held in place with quick-release clips. That makes removing the plate, for example to clean it, a lot more practical than with the Ender-3.
 
We haven't talked about the extruder yet. With the CR-6 SE, it is a bowden extruder, with the stepper motor on the x-axis feeding the filament through a tube of ptfe plastic to the extruder. Creality has placed a filament sensor for that stepper motor, so that your print is paused when the filament has run out. This way you don't get left with filament scraps and more importantly: not with half-finished prints. The lever to unlock the feed mechanism and feed filament works very loosely. However, the mechanism seems to be perfectly capable of feeding filament without slipping.
 


The extruder itself is designed for quick replacement or repair. For example, the cabling is connected with a plug, so that you can disconnect all connections at once. This way you no longer have to remove the heating cartridge and temperature sensor from the heating block to replace parts on your extruder. It remains to be seen what you can do with this in practice, because replacement parts or upgrades are yet to come.
 
Finally the controller. Creality has developed a new motherboard for the CR-6 SE, featuring TMC2208 drivers for the stepper motors. These are popular drivers for many 3D printer owners, often in combination with an MKS Gen L board or SKR 1.3, because they make the stepper motors much quieter. The drivers have a technique called stealthchop, with which the characteristic squeak of printers, which occurs especially at low speeds, largely disappears. Incidentally, communication with the 2208s is not possible in the default firmware: you cannot adjust the current for the steppers or read temperatures. The motherboard is completely packed in the housing, with the ventilation openings on the top, where residual plastic could fall, have been removed.
 


In addition to the motherboard compartment, a drawer has been made that contains the included accessories. This saves a long print, because many printer owners print such a drawer themselves to neatly store their tools. The supplied flush cutter is also very small - the arms are shortened to fit in the drawer - and the scraper is not super handy. It's more of a trowel now, while a small putty knife works great to loosen prints. In fact, the scraper lives up to its name and scratches the glass bed.
 

Creality CR-6 SE: Print Test
Commissioning the CR-6 SE is, as said, super easy. After attaching the a-frame and the plate with touchscreen controller, you only have to click the filament holder and hang a roll of filament on it. Just run the plastic through the run-out sensor and into the bowden feeder, and you can turn on the printer. After the bedlevel procedure with sixteen points you can print. Heating up to 220/60 degrees for nozzle and bed takes about five minutes, roughly the same as an Ender-3. We measured a sound pressure of 52 to 57dB (A) during printing: acceptable, but it could be much quieter with other fans.
 
The 8GB SD card contains test files such as gcode, so pre-sliced. In the review sample, most names were Chinese, but previewing the files in a gcode viewer provides sufficient information. There is a 3DBenchy, the well-known boat for testing printers, but five times the size of normal. There is also an overhang test, a retraction test, and a tolerance test. Furthermore, the SD card contains a vase and a bust, but no profiles for Cura or another slicer, nor instructions. That will change with the retail version. In fact, during testing, Creality sent the content of the retail SD card, containing a Creality slicer (based on Cura), tips for slicing, manuals and test STLs.
 


For the retraction test, the gcode file used no less than 10mm retraction. For our own test prints such as 3DBenchy and the xyz cube, we used a still generous 5mm retraction. Most Gcodes had a print temperature of 200 degrees and a bed temperature of 60 degrees. That works fine, although the undersigned always prints at 220/60 degrees for Jupiter-pla.
 
The overhang test did not cause any problems up to an angle of 45 degrees, at 60 degrees you can see a lot of subsidence and at 70 degrees even more. Remember that this is with the standard blower, not with advanced blowers such as a PetsFang.
 
Despite the optimistic 10mm retraction, where the gcode defined a slightly lower print temperature of 195/45 degrees, there was quite a bit of stringing. That's quite inherent to bowden printers, but you might be able to limit that a bit with faster, short retractions. The other test prints did not have excessive stringing, so it is not a big problem.
 
Looking at the accuracy of the printer, we have nothing to complain about. The small Benchy is neatly printed and the xyz calibration cube has dimensions that hardly deviate. We have not noticed any underextrusion, while that is easier with bowden extruders than with direct-drive extruders. Many Ender-3 printers, for example, suffer from it.
 
A test print in which cylinders with increasingly smaller tolerances are printed in a block is also successfully passed by the printer. To illustrate this, we made two articulated prints: a print-in-place octopus and a t-rex. Both models, printed without brims, functioned fine with all movement without breaking loose parts. Even a piece of plastic fabric could be printed without a murmur.
 
Because the printer has a z-probe in the form of the piezoelectric sensor, you can also set the z-probe offset during printing or before starting a print. An offset of 0.3mm turned out to be the sweet spot for us , but you can of course experiment with it yourself. You can adjust the height of the z-probe offset in steps of 0.05mm. You could perform an automatic mesh leveling for each print in your slicer, but in practice the sporadic procedure of less than two minutes turned out to be sufficient.
 


The touchscreen works fine and has all the functions you need for plug & print. If you want extra options, you can always interface with Octoprint, or a laptop with Prontorface or Repetier. It was noticed that the firmware cannot handle long file names. Gcode with filenames longer than 26 characters was simply not shown in the file list: no hyphenated names with a tilde, just nothing. That will undoubtedly be solved in future versions, although it remains to be seen how such a thing is distributed. A Kickstarter stretch goal was an upgrade from an 8bit board to a 32bit board, but we tested that first variant. There an idea is needed to update the board and tweak the firmware. With a 32bit board you can upload a firmware directly, but even then an idea is needed to adjust the firmware itself.
 
Creality CR-6 SE: Verdict
The printer works excellent out-of-the-box and most of the upgrades that you would like to perform as an Ender-3 user has already been done. From silent TMC2208 drivers, a touchscreen, automatic bed leveling, a filament run-out sensor and better power supply to a tool tray, a removable glass print bed and handy tensioning systems, everything seems to be taken care of.
 
This makes the CR-6 SE an excellent candidate for people who just want to print and don't want to worry about all kinds of side issues. You can say that printers like the Ender-3 are for the hobby, to be tweaked, and that the CR-6 SE is going to be utilitarian and just work.

 
Special price per piece:
Early Bird Price at $319
Kickstarter Special Price at $339


Special pack price for multi-pieces:
2 Pieces for $628
3 Pieces for $942
5 pieces for $1545
10 pieces for $3090
20 pieces for $6180


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