How To Fix A Clicking, Slipping Extruder On A 3D Printer

The extruder may be responsible for a malfunctioning 3D printer. Several factors may cause your extruder to click, skip, or make grinding sounds. The steps we will take to troubleshoot each issue and the solutions we can try for them will be reviewed. Considering it is an investment, it must be capable of performing every task you require of it.

Extruders are a small but vital part of a 3D printer, especially since they play a major role in how the machine works. Extruders feed filament into hot ends via the cold end. A filament drive gear, filament motor, and idler make up the extruder. By controlling how much filament reaches the hot end, this part ensures that the printer produces an accurate print. 

As the filament is heated, it melts and is layered. In certain circumstances, the melting of a filament can be adversely affected. In addition to debris and dust on the gears and in the extruder, one of the most common problems with it is dust accumulation. Extrusions are sometimes too hot. We’ll also take a look at overheating, fast printing speed, and tight idler rollers. 

Although it may seem tedious, manual fixes are usually the best option. Whenever possible, we make this as straightforward and quick as possible for you. If you see your extruder slipping, follow these steps to fix it.

Check For Clogs In The Nozzle

Extruders are used to process filament. The filament is melted after it has been extruded. Filaments will leave behind specks naturally. Parts that aren’t properly secured can allow filament to reach the heat-breaker. Tiny components, such as the nozzle, accumulate filament over time.

There is a common issue with nozzle clogs. You can fix it by cleaning out the nozzle and related components. Finally, ensure the heat-breaker is always followed by the PTFE tubing. Be sure it is securely attached, as well. By passing through gaps between the filament and the PTFE tubing, the filament builds up pressure inside the nozzle. This causes filament to leak from spots it shouldn’t ooze from.

A direct drive system guides the filament through PTFE tubing. In Bowden printers, it is used to guide filament. Check the tube’s shape as well, since you are inspecting it. 

Idler Roller Is Too Tight

In addition to the idler roller being too tight, you may also notice your extruder skipping.

As the filament passes through the teeth, the idler roller assists it. In case the filament is being crushed by the teeth of the idler roller, it means it is too tight. A careful examination reveals tiny marks in it. There is nothing unusual about this. There should be no irregularities in the filament. It will not reach the extruder’s hot end smoothly if it is crushed. Since it’s no longer the proper shape, it’ll cause a clog and jam.

There is an excessive amount of tension in the idler roller if you hear grinding noises and see filament crushed. Attached to the extruder is a spring-loaded arm that pulls the idler. The filament shouldn’t be affected anymore after the threads are loosened. 

However, do not overtighten the idler roller. It is possible for the idler to start moving up and down during extrusion, causing it to strip. Output quality may also be affected.

Temperature Is Too Low

The temperature may be too low because of several reasons, including your extruder grinding.

In 3D printing, the quality of output depends on getting the right temperature. Temperatures between 190 and 220 degrees Celsius are ideal for filament. Increasing the temperature may be necessary if the filament layers are not sticking together. 

The temperature should be increased five degrees at a time, safely. You’re going to run some tests and look at the results. A hot extruder can produce droopy, flimsy parts. 

By adjusting at a small increment, you can see what the result will be without damaging the filament. The extruder motor and nozzle should be prevented from getting clogged. The filament that becomes drippier has a greater likelihood of penetrating other areas of the extruder. It causes a blockage over time.

There is a problem with the filament flow if the extruder makes clicking sounds. If the process is not completed, the model is skipped. When filament is not melted properly at the time of printing, pieces of filament are pushed through the parts, causing clicking.

Being hotter does not guarantee that you’ll get what you expect. Often, the thermistors don’t show the actual temperature. Tests can be run at a temperature of five degrees at a time. 

By increasing heat and reducing feed rate, the feed rate will be slowed. See what happens.

Nozzle Sits Too Close To The Bed

During the first and second layer of printing, clicks will be heard from the extruder, which is due to the nozzle not being at the optimal level. In the process of trying to flow the filament through the nozzle, clicking sounds are heard. Clogged nozzles result in jams.

The solution to this problem is to re-level the bed. 

The Z-endstop can also be raised. On the side of the printer, it is found. Here the nozzle is controlled by the Z-endstop. Z-endstop can also be adjusted by the slicer settings. 

If the bed isn’t even, this is the time to check. You should align the bed with the axis of the printer. A distance of the same distance should also be observed on the entire platform between the nozzle and the platform. When performing these tests, it is recommended to heat up the platform.

Using a sheet of paper, determine where the nozzle should be positioned. There shouldn’t be any problem with the paper wriggling under the nozzle.

Printing Speed Is Too Fast

Optimal print speeds are characteristic of 3D printers. Slowing down might be the answer if you notice the quality is not great. Printers that are optimized can handle slower printing speeds. By optimizing 3D printers, you ensure that the parts function together in harmony. However, some critics contend that the output quality can vary. Speed and quality are believed to be tradeoffs by some.

Several hours can be needed for large-scale 3D printing. Taking the job too fast will impact the quality. You must plan ahead for this. In order to reduce the printing time, you might be tempted to increase the speed, but you will compromise the quality. 

It is possible that the filament isn’t entirely melted when the printer’s components are unstable. In addition, the printer’s components put pressure on the nozzle.

 The optimal speed is 45mm/s. Printing demands can be met at this speed. Output quality can also be maintained at this speed. Setting 60 mm/s should also be effective at maintaining quality. Fast isn’t always better, as a test ended up with no difference in print quality or time when turning up the speed to 100mm/s.

When you have limited time and the printing job is lengthy, there is little you can do. We should be polite and grin and bear it for the sake of our printer and output. You might want to give your printer more time next time.

Don’t Let The Printer Overheat

The machine itself can overheat, which means that 3D printers do too. In addition to the extruder, overheating can negatively affect the printer as a whole as well as the output. If it becomes too hot, you should immediately turn it off. 

An out-of-date printer is a symptom of a more serious problem if you have not used it for a long time. When the parts of a machine do not compete or over-lean on each other, it will work well. A slow-working part of the printer must be compensated by the rest of the parts. They’ll tire out faster because of the extra exertion. 

Passive cooling is recommended to prevent overheating, such as a heatsink. If you prefer, then a cooling fan is an option. Be careful not to overcool your printer, however. This will damage your filament. As a result, you must balance the filament’s heat needs and prevent the machine from overheating during the summer months.

Printing filament layers too quickly causes the machine to overheat. In order to prevent this, decrease the print speed.

The printer may need maintenance if it is still overheating. You should make sure your printer is ready to handle the next print job between printing jobs.

Clean The Extruder

Maintaining a printer or machine is a constant necessity. Most printers need to be serviced every two to three years. Every 1500 hours of usage or every 2 months, 3D printers must undergo maintenance.

Regular maintenance on 3D printers includes lubrication, firmware updates, and adjusting the pulley screws. Extruders need to be thoroughly cleaned as well.

The feeder assembly must be taken apart and cleaned individually. Use compressed air to remove debris and dirt. The gear teeth should be cleaned with a brush. An acetone soak for 15 minutes helps clear off the gunk attached to the nozzle of the extruder.

Put the extruder back into the 3D printer after cleaning and reassembling it.

Home and office printers are not nearly as fragile as these machines. In fact, they need to be maintained far more frequently. Before assembling the machine again, ensure everything is correctly placed. A piece that is not level or that has been repositioned at the wrong height will result in other printing problems. The printer’s manual should be handy when you print. If you are unsure of what settings to select, you may consult the manufacturer’s instructions.

Check The Extruder’s Alignment

The best results will come from a correctly aligned extruder on your 3D printer. A filament that isn’t properly aligned can wander if the idler bearing, hobbed gear, and filament are not correctly aligned. A slipped filament can cause a feeding path to buckle. When this occurs, your printing results will be poor, and you may experience jams or clogs.

An office or home printer calibrates itself during the setup process. A 3D printer must be calibrated manually. You’ll need a few things to calibrate the extruder if you are an advanced 3D printer user. The printer and computer must be on and filament must be ready. 

The filament should be measured first. When using a Bowden printer, you can run the filament without heating it. Direct printers have a temperature setting for filament. Determine the output temperature of filament. The temperatures should be identical. 

To extrude 100mm of filament, tell the printer to do so. The output will show. Those 100 meters can be pushed out by the extruder if it is aligned properly. The printer may not be aligned correctly if it has a difference in length. There would be evidence of under-extrusion if it pushed out less. Conversely, over-extrusion results in under-extrusion. It’s good news, because you will determine how much to adjust. 

Three to four tests should be taken and the average should be taken. EEPROM Settings Configuration must be updated if the output is not working.  Math will be necessary as you’ll be using it. Divide desired output by actual output and that is what the value will be. Multiplier equals desired output times actual output.

To multiply with the original extruder steps/mm multiply the multiplier by 0. To compute calibrated steps/mm, multiply the multiplier by 0. 

Save the new value after entering it. The printer and computer should be shut down before resetting the settings. After switching the system back on, run the test again. An output that is neither over- nor under-extruded should be made by the calibration. 

Increase The Voltage On The Stepper Motor

Extruders of 3D printers can skip when the voltage is too low. Despite the fact that this isn’t the most common issue, if you’re still having issues, it might be worth a shot. 

Extruders cannot push out filament when there is an issue. Therefore, filament skips. The process will be able to run more smoothly with a higher voltage. A small micro-stepping board on the control board can be adjusted to provide more current.

You can listen for sounds when you adjust the stepper motor’s voltage. During this test, no filament is needed to be pushed out. The motor will make a loud noise without printing. The motor of the extruder needs to be replaced if you hear whining or whistling. You can slow the flow rate by 25% if you are uncomfortable with the sounds coming from the motor. During this time, you should be able to hear the motor clearly without being distracted by any other sounds. 

Fixing A 3D Printer Extruder Conclusion

It is incredibly important to maintain your 3D printer and all its parts so that they run at their best. The right kind of maintenance prevents clogs, misalignments, and jams on the extruder components. When you run into any printer problems between scheduled maintenance, use these tips for troubleshooting.

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