Creality CR-M4 Review: A Massive QuasiIndustrial Workhorse

Marcello De Lio

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Wide shot of the Creality CR M4 review in on a wood table beside a filament dryer

What’s In The Box

Opening the box of Creality's CR-M4 Large format 3d printer with lots of padding and the instruction booklet

The Creality CR-M4 comes in a massive box. I recommend getting a second person to help you carry the box.

Even though we knew we were getting a large format printer, I was still shocked by the massive 450x450x470 mm build volume. It’s hard to judge the size of the machine from photos, but it is truly massive.

All of the components that come in the box of with the CR M4 quasi industril 3d printer including the print bed, gantry, lcd display, tools, and instructions

When opening the box, you’ll find everything you need to get your 3D printer up and running.

  • CR-M4 base
  • CR-M4 gantry
  • Z-axis drag chain
  • Touch screen
  • Touch screen frame
  • Two pull rods
  • Spool holder
  • Filament
  • Spare hotend
  • USB stick
  • One spool of PLA filament
  • Printing tool pack
  • Assembly tools
  • Bolts for assembly

Design

Wide shot of the Creality CR M4 review in on a wood table beside a filament dryer

The Creality CR-M4 distinguishes itself with its durable construction, featuring linear rails on the Y axis for enhanced stability. The massive 3D printer also boasts an oversized Y stepper motor and a robust 800W power supply, underscoring its commitment to longevity and performance.

Creality boasts that the printer can handle up to 30kg on the build plate – more than you’ll likely ever need.

Close up of the sprite direct drive extruder on a CR M4 with the volcano syle hot end, cr touch auto bed leveling and the 3d printed fan shroud

While the company has significantly advanced by incorporating a Volcano-style all-metal hotend, one of the biggest disappointments is that the printer only comes with a 0.4mm nozzle. A 0.4mm nozzle is industry standard and provides excellent print resolution.

However, a larger 0.6mm or 0.8mm nozzle drastically reduces the print time when printing massive objects.

You can purchase larger nozzle sizes from Creality, but it would’ve been nice to see a larger nozzle diameter included.

The nozzle itself isn’t a universal volcano nozzle. Creality went out of the way to produce a custom nozzle for the printer.

We only assume that the custom nozzle was designed for one purpose. You must rely on Creality for spare parts and upgraded nozzles.

Another disappointment is that the printer only includes two brass nozzles. For what Creality calls a Quasi-Industrial printer, I would’ve expected the printer to ship with a hardened steel nozzle.

A hardened steel nozzle is more durable and can withstand abrasive filaments, making it more suitable for industrial applications.

Close up of the Y axis linear rails on the CR M4

Nozzle concerns aside, it’s clear that the printer boasts excellent build quality. The base and gantry are heavy and robust, precisely what you’d want in a large-size printer.

Two pull rods provide additional Z-axis support and a cable belt to prevent tangling.

The CR-M4 sports a removable touchscreen similar to the Ender 3 V2 one. However, unlike the Ender 3, the touchpad on the CR-M4 has a longer cord.

The removable touchscreen doesn’t provide many benefits. But if you’re running a print farm with multiple printers on racks, you can line up the displays for accessibility.

Assembling the Creality CR-M4

Assembling the Creality CR M4 begins by mounting the print gantry to the base with four screws.

The massive Creality CR-M4 is best assembled with two people. I spent a good 20 minutes struggling to assemble the printer by myself. But the assembly process was a breeze when I got a pair of extra hands.

Holding the large gantry in place while securing the screws is nearly impossible for one person to do alone, not to mention the risk of damaging the 3D printer if it falls.

Assembling The pull rods on the CR M4

After attaching the print gantry to the massive print bed, assembling the machine is just a matter of connecting the pull rods and wiring.

Just check the back of the printer and select the correct voltage for your region. On the back of the CR-M4, you’ll find a switch for 115V or 230V. 

My CR-M4 was set to 230V. If you live in the US or Canada, switch to 115V to prevent any issues.

The assembly process was similar to assembling smaller 3D printers like the Ender 3 or CR-10,  but the CR-M4 has larger components.

 The instruction manual was well-detailed, but some illustrations are confusing if you’ve never assembled a 3D printer.

With the help of a second person, assembling the Creality CR-M4 takes less than 30 minutes. 

Features

The Creality CR-M4 is a reliable and affordable large-format 3D printer. As a result, it doesn’t have all the fancy bells and whistles you’d find on other 3D printers.

But the CR-M4 has everything needed to do the job and print large objects reliably. It’s a no-frills, no-nonsense printer that accomplishes exactly what it’s designed to do.

Massive 450x450x470mm Build Volume

Close up of a full scale Mandalorian helment printed on a large 3d printer

The CR-M4’s print bed is enormous. Imagine the possibilities with CR-M4’s impressive build volume of 450x450x470mm.

For reference, the print bed is more than four times larger than the Ender 3 and over two times bigger than the CR-10 Smart Pro.

This large format machine allows you to create bigger and more complex models. It’s perfect for cosplay and large-scale decor items.

Additionally, the ability to batch-print multiple parts simultaneously increases efficiency and productivity, making it a perfect choice for prototyping and small production runs.

The print bed is a flexible PC-coated sheet. And lining up the print surface on the magnetic bed is a breeze thanks to two small notches at the back of the build surface that aligns with screws on the bed.

In our tests, we found no issues with the bed adhesion.

Our prints adhered to the bed easily and were easy to remove after printing was completed.

The only issue we encountered was that the print surface quickly got dirty. After removing our first test print, a 3D Benchy, we found an outline of the print permanently stuck to the build surface.

Cleaning the bed with isopropyl doesn’t remove the residue. And I tried carefully using a plastic scraper to no avail. The longevity of the build surface is an issue, and I find it questionable why Creality would ship a machine with this build surface.

The print bed takes noticeably longer to heat than smaller printers. We timed the printer starting at room temperature and found it takes around 3:41 seconds to reach 60°C and 9:13 to reach 100°C.

But that’s expected considering the massive surface area that requires heating.

All Metal, Dual Gear, Direct Drive Sprite Extruder

Top down view of the direct drive dual gear extruder on the CR M4

The CR-M4 uses Creality’s popular Sprite extruder. It’s the same print head used by the Ender 3 S1, Ender 5 S1, and CR-10 SE.

However, the extruder is modified with a custom volcano-style hotend, which heats more material, allowing faster printing. Unfortunately, the CR-M4 uses a custom nozzle, so you must purchase spares or upgrades from Creality or their sister company, Sovol. 

Nozzle concerns aside, the Sprite extruder is well-made. It’s a reliable direct drive, dual gear extruder that produces consistent and excellent results up to 300°C.

We found it easy to load filament, and the direct drive meant less noticeable stringing on our prints. The dual gear provided an apparent benefit over single-gear tool heads, providing more consistent extrusion.

The dual-gear extruder also provides better consistency when printing flexible filaments like TPU.

Hotend

The hotend is simple yet effective, with a 300°C maximum temperature, suitable for most filaments, including PLA, ABS, PETG, Nylon, and PC. The hotend heats fast, reaching 200°C in 55 seconds and 300°C in 1:43 minutes.

The CR-M4 includes an extra hotend, identical to the original. This ensures easy replacement and compatibility, but the same 0.4 mm brass nozzle limits versatility in printing different sizes or abrasive filaments.

I would’ve preferred to see a larger 0.6 mm or 0.8 nozzle. Larger diameter nozzles are a must for large-format 3D printers. The included 0.4 nozzle is just far too small for printing large objects.

And it’s a real shame that Creality labels the CR-M4 as a quasi-industrial 3D printer when they don’t include a hardened nozzle, or stainless steel for that matter.

Steel nozzles are a must for printing abrasive materials. And suppose you’re using the printer for industrial or commercial applications. In that case, you definitely want a more durable nozzle for printing carbon-filled, wood-filled, glow-in-the-dark, and other abrasive filaments.

Despite the brass and small nozzle diameter, the hotend performs reliably as expected.

CR-Touch Auto Bed Leveling

The Cr Touch auto bed leveling running a bed mesh compensation using a 25 point leveling system on Creality CR M4

The CR-M4 boasts Creality’s CR-Touch auto bed leveling system, probing 25 points for precise calibration. It’s nearly impossible to level such a large bed precisely. And the CR-Touch provides accurate bed compensations for perfect first layers.

The ABL system probes the printer in a 5×5 grid. While 25-point bed leveling is standard, we would’ve preferred to see a 6×6 or 7×7 grid to provide better accuracy across the large surface area of the print bed.

The auto bed leveling sequence takes around 2:30. And it’s well worth the extra time to get perfect first layers on your 3D prints.

4.3 Inch Touch Screen and User Interface

The 4.3 inch lcd display on creality's large format 3d printer

Easily control your 3D printer with the user-friendly 4.3-inch touch screen. The interface is intuitive, making for a seamless printing experience.

The user interface is well-organized and easy to navigate. The settings are divided into three tabs: print, prepare, and tune.

The top of the home screen lists important information like the print temperature, bed temperature, print speed, and Z-offset.

You can tweak many of the print settings mid-print. The ability to tweak the Z-offset is a significant advantage.

We found that our Z-offset was way off. The ability to adjust the Z-height while watching the first layer made calibrating the Z-offset a breeze.

Y-Axis Linear Rails

The dual linear rails on the Y axis of the CR M4

The CR-M4 Y-axis uses dual linear rails for more precise bed movement. The linear rails provide smoother movement and make it nearly impossible for unwanted movement to occur.

Linear rails are an absolute must when printing on such a large scale.

CR-M4 uses a traditional “bed slinger” design. Compared to V-wheels, the linear rails minimize impacts from vibrations during movement.

Even when printing large, heavy objects, you don’t need to worry about vibrations or slipping.

Linear rails also require less maintenance than V-rails. You don’t need to worry about belt tension or make minor adjustments to the screws holding the wheels. Maintaining your V-rails requires just a bit of lubrication to keep them moving smoothly.

Dual Z Axis Leadscrews

The CR-M4 utilizes dual Z-axis leadscrews to provide better accuracy along the Z-axis. This configuration ensures better stability for the upper frame, providing improved print quality and precision.

When working with such a large machine, the dual lead screws help to reduce inaccuracies along the Z-axis.

The two lead screws are connected at the top of the printer by a timing belt, which keeps the two screws in sync. I was surprised by the amount of slack in the timing belt and worried that it wasn’t taught enough to prevent the screws from coming out of sync.

But even after hundreds of hours of printing, the lead screws continue to work in sync.

Although the lead screws work well to prevent z-banding, I would’ve preferred to see linear rails along the Z-axis.

V-wheels only last so long before they wear out. When printing tall objects, linear rails would provide a noticeable quality improvement over the included V-wheels.

Creality likely chose V-wheels to save on costs. But it is another slight disappointment for a printer labeled as “quasi-industrial.”

I can only hope Creality will include linear rails on the Z axis when they build future versions of the CR-M4.

Cooling

Close up of the large cooling fan and 3d printed fan shroud on a Creality sprite direct drive extruder

The CR-M4 uses a larger cooling fan than other Creality machines. The 40×20 fan provides faster cooling, which was noticeably more effective when printing overhangs and bridges.

The additional cooling also allows the printer to print layers faster, as the extra cooling enables layers to bond quickly.

One drawback is the positioning of the cooling fan. Rather than a side-mounted fan, the blower in the CR-M4 is on a downward angle facing the print bed.

The fan’s direction means that without a shroud, the fan would be sucking up warm from the heated bed, which won’t effectively cool the print. Fortunately, the printer has a 3D-printed shroud that directs the fan’s intake.

But the 3D printed shroud is a significant disappointment. For a 3D printer that’s so well built, it doesn’t make sense why Creality would skimp out and use a 3D printed part over injection molding. 

It makes the printer look cheap.

When considering the price, I expected a little more care to be placed in the design.

Noise Levels

For a large printer, the stepper motors are impressively quiet. Despite moving large distances across the bed, the silent stepper motors make virtually no sound.

However, the CR-M4’s fans are far too loud to use in a home setting.

For industrial and commercial applications, the noise levels aren’t troublesome. Given that industrial and commercial applications are the printer’s target market, we give the sound levels a pass.

But you won’t want to use the printer in your bedroom, condo, or living room. The fans are just far too noisy.

Distance from the PrinterNoise LevelNoise Equivalent to
1 Foot 64 decibelsBackground music
5 Feet57 decibelsIndoor talking
10 Feet53 decibelsA quiet office

Cable Management

Close up of the cable chain on a creality 3d printer

Creality uses cable chains to keep the cables moving without tangling or catching parts of the print. Without the drag chain, it would be too easy for the slack in the wires to catch parts of the print.

The bed also includes a bed strain relief to ensure the cables don’t wear down with the bed’s movement.

Connectivity

The CR-M4 offers a versatile range of connectivity options, including a USB drive, USB-C cable, RJ45 cable, WiFi, and LAN. This array of connections is a welcome upgrade from the cumbersome micro SD cards.

Particularly noteworthy is the convenience offered by the WiFi and LAN options.

WiFi connectivity on the CR-M4 is facilitated through smart devices and the Creality Cloud website. Creality Cloud is a multi-functional platform offering a gamified experience for file sharing, shopping, social interactions, slicing, and sending print jobs to your printers. It features a unique system where users can purchase premium models using coins.

Creality Cloud coins are earned by engaging with the website or purchasing with real money. You can buy 100 coins for 99 cents. This system allows users the convenience of finding, slicing, and sending prints directly from their phone.

Spool Holder

The dual spool holder on the creality CR M4 3d printer with filament run out sensor

The spool holder on this 3D printer caught our attention for its ability to hold two 1 kg filament spools simultaneously, one on each side. This feature is somewhat unusual since the printer lacks dual extrusion capabilities.

It might be helpful for lengthy prints, allowing loading two identical spools to minimize downtime when one runs out.

Ideally, a taller spool holder accommodating larger 2.3 kg spools would be more suitable, given the printer’s large print volume. When printing large objects, it doesn’t take long for the printer to run through a 1kg roll of filament.

You can design and print your own holder for larger spools. But considering the printer’s price, I would’ve preferred to see the inclusion of a larger spool holder.

The printer features a filament runout sensor and an auto-resume function for power outages. It’s a standard feature on new printers, but we’re glad Creality includes it on the CR-M4.

I can’t imagine anything worse than returning to a 5-day print only to find a power outage in the last few layers. But thankfully, the filament runout sensor and auto resume function prevent that issue from occurring.

Print Quality

Close up of a 3D printed rabbit in grey pla filament. the standard test print that comes with all creality 3d printers

The CR-M4 comes with a copy of Creality Print. We used the default slicer profile for the C4-M4 for our test prints.

Cura users will be disappointed as there isn’t a printer profile for the CR-M4 at the time of writing. However, we contacted Creality, who confirmed that a Cura profile would be coming soon.

Creality Print is easy to use, and we can quickly slice our STL files and send them to the printer through our WiFi connection.

We printed the pre-sliced test print with the printer’s USB as with all our tests.

The test print is the standard bunny that comes with all Creality printers. The file is expertly sliced to the machine and should print without issue.

Holding the 3D printed rabbit with a large 3d printer in the background

We found a minor amount of stringing between the ears and some rough edges on the overhangs, but overall, the print was good quality. The curved edges were smooth, and we noticed no apparent issues.

Next up, we went big.

A full scale mandalorin helment with the supports removed printed in green pla

I printed a full-scale Mandalorian helmet in green PLA. The print took two days to complete, but it was well worth the wait. I shaved off a couple of days of printing using a 0.28 layer height and 80 mm/s print speed. 

Close up of the back of the mandalorian helmet under harsh lighting to see the layer lines and print quality of the CR M4

Despite using a high layer height, the walls were smooth. I noticed a minor amount of stringing between the eyes, but it was easy to clean.

After printing the helmet, I moved on to the earpieces. I knew I didn’t have enough filament to complete the print, so it was an excellent time to test the filament runout detection.

The print stopped half way after running out of filament

About halfway through the printing process, I ran out of filament. The printer stopped printing, and the LCD screen alerted me to the issue. After loading a new filament spool, the print continued without issue. 

The results of switching filaments half way through a 3d print using the auto resume functionality

The runout sensor worked as intended, and the auto-resume picked up where the printer left off. I used a different color PLA to demonstrate where the auto-resume function picked up clearly. Had I used the same color filament, you wouldn’t be able to tell where the print stopped.

Next, I printed a 3D Benchy.

A 3d benchy printed on a CR M4

I could not belive how small the bench looked on such a massive machine.

My first attempt was a bit disappointing. I noticed a bit of stringing and clear z-banding in the cabin.

I didn’t want to write off the print quality, so I made some adjustments. I performed a cold pull to clean the nozzle, then lubbed the two z-axis lead screws.

Close up of 3d benchy printed on a cr m4

After performing maintenance on the 3D printer, I re-ran the print.

Unsurprisingly, the print was a success.

The CR-M4 continues to struggle with overhands, which were noticeable at the ship’s bow. But that can be improved by tinkering with the slicer settings.

Finally, I wanted to push the printer to the limit with the All In One 3D Printer Test.

Close up of the all in one test print with issues like stringing

And I was very impressed with the results. The CR-M4 performed well on all the tests. The printer still struggled with overhangs, and there was a minor amount of stringing. But it passed the bridging test and had a 0.2mm tolerance.

Creality CR-M4 Alternatives

Knowing other options is wise when considering the Creality CR-M4 as your go-to 3D printer. None of the alternatives come close to the CR-M4’s 450x450x470 build volume. But if you’re okay with a smaller build size, there are a few excellent options.

Anycubic Kobra 2 Max

The Anycubic Kobra Max 3D printer is a direct drive printer with a 420x420x450 mm build volume.

The Kobra 2 max advertises speeds of up to 500 mm/s. Although we don’t recommend printing faster than 250 mm/s, even at that speed, it still prints much quicker than the CR-M4.

Elegoo Neptune 4 Max

The Elegoo Neptune 4 Max boasts a large build volume of 420*420*480mm and a direct drive extruder. Like the Kobra 2 Max, Elegoos Neptune 4 Max boasts print speeds of 500 mm/s, though we also recommend printing no faster than 250 mm/s.

The printer comes pre-installed with Klipper firmware and uses acceleration sensors to calibrate for vibrations automatically.

If you don’t require the massive build volume of the CR-10, the Neptune 4 Max is an excellent alternative.

Creality CR-10 Smart Pro

The CR-10 Smart Pro is another of Creality’s large format printers. The 300x300x400 print volume is comparatively smaller but has more features. For example, the CR-10 smart pro includes an HD camera and LED strip.

Article by

Marcello De Lio

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