If you own a 3D printer, you probably already know it’s not hard at all to wind up with a clogged—or even just excessively dirty—extruder nozzle. What you may not know is the quickest and easiest way to clean a 3D printer extruder nozzle, but take it from us, it’s not going to eat up your morning—if you follow these tips to make it easier on you and your printer.
Commonly known as a 3D printer jam, a clogged extruder nozzle can be frustrating, and even cause you to buy a new one thinking there’s no real way to get it back to the way it was when you first started using your machine. Not to worry, we have the quick and simple tips to make cleaning your extruder nozzle a fast job so you can get back to printing things up.
The common clogged nozzle scenario
Typically, extruder nozzles get clogged with a small amount of residue or built-up printing material that is easily cleaned out with a small probe or even a thin wire, but a quick word of caution: wires can scratch the inner walls of the nozzle, so clean this way very carefully. Experts in the field recommend cleaning with something that won’t scratch, and for many, that item is a guitar string because it’s strong enough to stand up to the clog without scratching the nozzle. You can learn more about that in the video below.
The best way to clean your 3D printer’s extruder nozzle
- Depending on the printer in question, you may have to first remove the nozzle before cleaning is possible, so if this applies to you, go ahead and do that now.
- Next, if you have noticed that your filament is not extruding properly, you will want to take the nozzle and soak it in acetone for 10–20 minutes in order to get out the interior ick that’s clogging things up.
- After the acetone soak, place the extruder nozzle on a stone and use a torch to burn it for about 60 seconds or so. You will know you have been burning it for long enough when you notice that the tip has changed color from black to orange—so be extremely careful not to touch it.
- Use your guitar string or something similar to gently clean out the nozzle opening, and if you are unable to get the wire into the hole, repeat the acetone soak and torching one more time.
- Helpful hint: Remember not to force anything down into the opening, as this could cause permanent damage to the nozzle.
Preventing future nozzle jams
Common sense must rule the day when it comes to 3D printer jams, so it’s important to notice what’s going on before a jam happens. That means keeping a close eye on your filament, but more than anything, it means being aware of and understanding the anatomy of your specific printer. While clogs are a universal issue, where they occur in the nozzle can vary from one machine to the next.
Knowing the correct distance between the filament and nozzle will cause the filament to extrude into the air and not stick to the bed. Likewise, if the filament is too low, it won’t flow properly, potentially causing retrograde extrusion, and subsequently, a jam. Additionally, you want to ensure that your printer isn’t running too hot. Running at the correct temperature is an absolute must, and knowing the right temperature is part of being familiar with your unique printer.
3D printer jam types and how to avoid them
In one type of jam, your hotend is too cold, and your filament won’t be able to extrude at the right speed—or perhaps at all. Or, if your hotend is too hot, it may not cause a clog in the nozzle right away, but over time, it may create what’s called a “creep,” which refers to the slow nature of a building clog that actually takes a lot more time to clear up with acetone or using any other cleaning method.
To keep all of this from happening, ensure that your filament is loading correctly into the 3D printer with minimal tension on the exterior portion of the extruder. You want to be sure that the filament spool is able to spin freely and properly mounted so it stays this way. And finally, ensuring that your print bed is completely level can also help to stop clogs before they even happen, as this ensures your calibration of the printer is accurate.
Get the best 3D printer to stave off clogs forever
What you may not know about the best 3D printer prices is that typically, the higher the price, the less likely you are to experience a clog, so long as you know what you’re doing and have set up your printer properly. 3D printers are an investment, so keeping that in mind — and understanding that you can learn how to make money with a 3D printer — will help you pull the switch and pay the price for the best machine out there.
In our humble opinion, one of the best 3D printers available today is the MakerGear M2 Desktop 3D Printer.
- For one thing, we like the fact that this machine is compact enough for a desktop but still offers the capability to print relatively large things with an 8 by 10 printing volume.
- What’s more, the MakerGear M2 offers open-source electronics and firmware, making it easy for you to stay on top of the best design software and hardware while still enjoying the ability to work with this machine right out of the box.
- Its easy-to-use SD card reader and USB port also make it an attractive option, as this means users can print files that are stored on external drives.
- And finally, its one-click OctoPrint file preparation and design-to-print integration make printing in 3D just about as easy as it gets.
MakerGear is known for its easy to clean nozzles, and also as being one of the manufacturers dedicated to ensuring that your calibration is accurate and that your bed will stay nice and flat. All of that and so much more for a small investment is a pretty great deal in our opinion!