If you have a 3D printer you may have encounter the nasty issue of the filament feeder not working. You hit “print” and material never gets deposited in the plate, and maybe you’re even getting a loud clunking noise!!! Terrifying!
The first time it happen to me I though that was the end of my brand new printer. But don’t worry, there’s a solution! …actually more than one!
To get you started, check out the video below and hear the scary loud clunking noise out of my Up Mini 3D printer. As the printer made those noises, there was not filament coming out of the extruder head. I believe this issue is not exclusive to the Up Mini, and it could happend in most consumer level 3d printers out there: MakerBot, Afinia, Cube 3d, and others[youtube http://youtu.be/LZXgqBJ16dY]
The reason you hear that loud clunking is that the filament is slipping out. The root cause is that you have a blocked nozzle. For some reason the nozzle in the extruder head clogged up, so that when the motor pulls the filament, it cannot pass the block.
Solution is easy: remove the unblock the nozzle
Ok, easier said than done…. Let’s look in to the solutions to get your nozzle unclogged.
How to Fix 3D Printer Filament Feeder Issue: unblock nozzle
The usual solution 3d printer manufacturer recommends consists of removing the blocked nozzle and cleaning it with acetone (check your printer user manual for detailed instructions).
That tend to be a very time consuming procedure, taking you anywhere from 3 to 4 hours, and in some instances, recommendation is to leave the printer nozzle immerse in acetone overnight.
That’s just too long for me, so I’ve been looking into ways to get that done faster, and I got it. I figured out a way that you can get your blocked nozzle unclogged in just 5min. No hacking required.
As a “payment” for my hard work creating this article I ask you that you share it with others.
Igor’s secret solution to unblock a clogged 3d printer nozzle:
1. Withdraw filament from printer (via software)
2. take scissors and make clean cut in filament
3. take utility knife and “sharpen” tip of the filament, make it look like the tip of a toothpick
4. Insert filament into printer and hit extrude. Voila!!!
No more clunking, your printer should not just take the filament and extrude normally.
Why this works? If you try to extrude the filament at full diameter, the heat produced by the nozzle may not be enough to melt the new filament, and melt the overcome the clog.
When you sharpen the tip, you reduce the amount of material to be heated up, therefore the produced heat is better utilized to melt both the material that blocks the nozzle and the filament you’re extruding.
Simple tip, but it has been working for me like a charm!
Please drop me a line if this tip helped you or not! I’d love to hear your feedback!
How to prevent this happening again?
I did notice this issue happened because of an issue in the spool. As the printer was pulling out the filament, the spool got entanled to itself and broke off. That starve the printer of filament. That seems to the what cause the entire ordeal. There maybe other reasons for the clog, but that was the one I experienced.
Suggestion: watch out for cheap filament you find one eBay. I believe the root cause of the that issue is bad quality of the filament maker. I believe that maker I got the filament from messed up the process of spooling the filament properly, that is putting filament into the spool. Consider going to the more expensive filament the manufacturer sells, instead of the cheap eBay ones…
I do have a history of getting bad quality filament. Check out this post with weak filament, which I believe is recycled ABS.
Suggestion 2: stay nearby your printer every time you use it, and learn to listen to it’s noises. With some experience you can identify when there’s an printing issue just by listening!!!