3D printing technology has indeed taken the world by storm. People use 3D printers in different fields. Among all other parts, one important component of a 3D printer is its nozzle. A nozzle needs to be in good condition to ensure the quality of the print and smooth extrusion of the filament. Sometimes your printer nozzle gets clogged and you begin to think about how to clean 3D printer nozzle?
In this guide, we will learn about how to know if a nozzle is clogged. Not only this, but we will also talk about how you could prevent such a condition from happening and if it happens, what to do.
- Symptoms: How to Know if My Printer Nozzle is Clogged and Requires Cleaning?
- Prevention: What are the Steps that I Should Take to Ensure that My 3D Printer’s Nozzle Does Not Get Clogged?
- Methods to Clean or Unclogg a Printer Nozzle
- How Often Should You Clean the Printer Nozzle?
Symptoms: How to Know if My Printer Nozzle is Clogged and Requires Cleaning?
If your nozzle is clogged, the signs will be pretty evident. These are:
- When the Flow of the Filament is Not Normal
If the nozzle is completely clogged, the melted filament will not flow. If it is partially clogged, the filament will flow in intervals or irregularly. In both of the cases, the 3D prints will be of low quality and susceptible to breaking.
- You Have to Change Flow Settings Again and Again
If you have to give instructions repeatedly to your printer, it shows that particles jam at the nozzle.
- The Printer’s Extruder Makes the Clicking Sound
The function of an extruder is to press the material through the mechanism to make 3D prints. If it clicks, it means that it could not force the material. This is an indication of a blocked nozzle.
- You See Dust Around the Extruder and Motor
If you see dust around the extruder and motor of your 3D printer every time you use it, it is also a sign that your printer nozzle may have got clogged.
- Motor Thumping
If the nozzle is clogged, the motor of the printer will keep jumping backward as it could not keep up with other parts of the printer.
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Prevention: What are the Steps that I Should Take to Ensure that My 3D Printer’s Nozzle Does Not Get Clogged?
Don’t you think that preventing a nozzle from getting clogged is time-saving and therefore, actually better than unclogging a printer nozzle afterward?
Yes, You got it correct. Taking measures to ensure that the clogging does not happen is indeed better!
But many beginners working on their 3D printers learn this the hard way as they remain trapped in the cycle of clogging and unclogging their 3D printer nozzles.
It is true that nozzles could get clogged even after the preventive measures. But the chances then are quite slim.
What to Do?
1. Use Different Nozzles for Different Filaments
We know that different materials have different melting points. Depending on the nature of the material to be processed, you give instructions to your 3D printer.
When filaments of two materials with different melting points are inserted into the 3D printer one after another, clogging occurs.
Actually, the material with a high melting point cools down in the nozzle and does not melt at the temperature at which the second material melts.
This is the reason that companies guide to use of different nozzles for different materials.
If you still want to change materials while using the same nozzle, do so while the printer head is still hot such that the remaining filament could come outside the nozzle end.
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2. Set the Right Temperature
People often do the mistake of not setting the correct temperature on the printer.
The diameter of a filament is larger than the size of the nozzle so it’s important that the filament completely melts before getting outside of the nozzle.
Otherwise, the filament will solidify as it reaches the end of the nozzle, clogging it.
3. Keep the Dust Away
If dust settles on your filament and then you use it for 3D printing, your printer nozzle could get clogged.
The reason is that the melting point of dust particles is higher than filaments. So, even the small dust particles could accumulate into a mass and clog your nozzle.
4. Don’t Push the Material into the 3D printer forcefully
Because due to excessive buildup, clogging of the nozzle could occur.
5. Set the correct height of the Nozzle from the Surface
Because when it is close to the surface, the melted filament could not flow easily causing a jam in the printer nozzle. Setting at a greater height may not jam the nozzle but it will affect the quality of the 3D print due to poor layer adhesion.
Methods to Clean or Unclogg a Printer Nozzle
These are some of the tricks that you could use:
1. Use a Brush.
Using a wire brush is the easiest way out to clean or unclog your printer nozzle.
Out of different wire brushes, you should use a brass wire brush because it does not cause scratches on the printer nozzle.
This trick is effective for unclogging. But if there is a severe blockage, it may not help as the brush could only clean the residue at the tip of the printer nozzle.
2. Use a Nozzle Unclogger or a Guitar Pin.
A nozzle unclogger generally comes with the printer’s tool kit. It is a small pin with a plastic tip. A guitar or any metal pin could also come in handy for cleaning the nozzle. But you need to ensure that the material of the pin does not harm it.
For unclogging, all you have to do is to insert the nozzle unclogger or the pin into the nozzle and pull it back. This should do the trick of getting out the material stuck inside. If not, we have other solutions too.
3. Use the ‘Cold Pull’ Method
If the tricks above fail if getting the clog outside, the cold pull method is probable to help you out.
All you need for executing this trick is a wire with a high melting point. You could use Nylon, ABC, etc.
Start by heating your extruder at 200 Celcius. After your printer has reached the temperature, leave the nozzle for five minutes.
Afterward, manually insert the wire into the nozzle gently after dismantling the extruder.
Pull the wire out gently. The residue inside the nozzle will come out stuck with the wire.
Cut the dirty part of the wire then and repeat the process.
After some repetitions, set the temperature to 130-celsius degrees. Once the nozzle reaches the temperature, leave it for 5 minutes, and repeat the process until you become satisfied.
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4. If All Fails, Acetone Should Not!
If you still observe the symptoms of clogging even after trying out the prior three tricks, following a step-by-step guide using Acetone must help you unclog your printer Nozzle.
All You Need:
- A Blow Torch
- A Thin Wire
- Soak the nozzle in acetone for 15 minutes.
- Clean the external dirt using a cloth.
- Place the nozzle on a slab.
- Burn the nozzle using the blow torch until it changes color due to excessive heat.
- Gently insert the thin wire into the nozzle to clear the hole.
- Repeat Step 4 and Step 5 until the hole is clear.
Note For Step 5: Ensure that the wire does not cause scratches inside the hole of the nozzle.
How Often Should You Clean the Printer Nozzle?
You should clean your 3D printer nozzle every three months. This must not be much because it’s only 4 times a year!
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If you handle a machine carefully and do its maintenance, it is destined to be useful for you longer. The same goes for 3D printers. 3D printers are indeed the talk of the town and are in use for several purposes.
Like all other machines, it is important that you clean the parts of a 3D printer occasionally. One important part of a 3D printer is its nozzle. New users often do common mistakes and end up clogging their printers’ nozzles.
But unclogging and cleaning them is easier with this guide. In this article, we understood how to clean a printer nozzle as well as the preventive measures that you could use to inhibit your printer nozzle from a blockage in the first place.