The nozzle is the most important part of your 3D printing machine, and it will determine how well you print. If the nozzle gets clogged or dirty, then you may not get any prints at all. This article seeks to help you learn How to Clean a 3d Printer Nozzle and prevent problems in the future.
Identifying the Issue to Clean a 3d Printer Nozzle
Before cleaning anything on your 3D printer, the first step is identifying what exactly is wrong with your nozzle. You should check if any signs indicate something has gone wrong. Some of these can be;
1. No First Layer
This means that no matter which material you use for printing, nothing comes out when you press the button. It could also mean that the filament isn’t feeding properly into the extruder.
2. Hot End Jam
If this happens, you might notice some kind of blockage inside the hotend. There are two ways to fix this problem: either by removing the entire hotend assembly and replacing it with another one or by using an air-pressure tool like a blowtorch to remove the obstruction from within the hotend itself.
3. Inconsistent Extrusion
Inconsistency in the amount of plastic being printed can happen due to many reasons such as bad filaments, too much heat, etc. To solve this problem, make sure that you change the temperature settings of your 3D printer according to the type of filament used.
4. Nozzle Collect Printed Material
Sometimes, the nozzle becomes so full of ink that it cannot pick up more material. To resolve this problem, try turning off the power supply to the printer until the nozzle clears.
Under-extruding refers to having less than expected amounts of plastic coming out of the nozzle. When this occurs, it usually indicates that the nozzle has become blocked. Try clearing the nozzle manually by pushing down firmly on the lever attached to the top of the nozzle. Also, ensure that the nozzle is clear of debris.
6. Missing Print
When you see only half of the object come out of the nozzle, it means that the nozzle is partially plugged. Make sure that the nozzle is free of dirt and debris.
With that in mind, once you’re certain that the printing issue stems from the nozzle, we’ll move on to fixing it.
How to Clean a 3d Printer Nozzle
Step 1: Exterior Debris Cleaning
Debris can accumulate around the exterior of the nozzle over time. These particles can cause issues during printing because they can interfere with the flow of molten plastic through the nozzle. Therefore, it’s best to keep the nozzle area clean. Here are three methods to do just that.
Solution 1 – Using Compressed Air
Compressed air tools are great for blowing away dust and other small particles. However, they aren’t suitable for larger objects. So, if you want to clean bigger things, you need to use a vacuum cleaner instead.
Solution 2 – Vacuum Cleaner
A good quality vacuum cleaner is ideal for cleaning the nozzle. A handheld model would work fine, but a cordless version is better since it won’t leave behind static electricity. Use a brush attachment to reach areas where the nozzle resides.
Solution 3 – Wet Method
Wet materials tend to stick together quite well, making them perfect for cleaning the nozzle. You can use water alone or mix it with soap or alcohol. The latter combination will help dissolve any stubborn deposits. Just be careful not to get the nozzle wet!
Step 2: Clogs
The next step involves inspecting the interior of the nozzle. If there are clogs present, then you should take care of those first before attempting anything else.
Solution 1 – Remove the Nozzle Cap
To access the internal components of the nozzle, simply unscrew the cap at its base. Once removed, inspect the inner workings of the nozzle. This includes the heating element, gears, bearings, and all other parts which could have accumulated contaminants.
Solution 2 – Replace the Nozzle
Once everything looks clean, replace the nozzle back into place. It may require a bit of force depending upon how dirty the nozzle was when you started. Afterward, test the functionality of the new nozzle by running a few tests.
Step 3: Ptef Tube Hot end Gap
If your nozzle isn’t working properly after following these steps, you might need to adjust the hot end gap. To find the correct setting, follow these instructions.
1) First, remove the filament spool from the extruder head. Turn off the power supply. Next, disconnect the stepper motor wires from their respective connectors. Finally, unplug the extruder cable from the motherboard. Now, loosen the screws holding the extruder assembly in place.
2) With the extruder assembly now loose, slide the extruder up until it reaches the stop pin near the machine’s front. At this point, tighten the screw again to secure the extruder assembly in position.
3) Turn the power supply back on. Run some tests using PLA filaments. Make sure that the extrusion speed remains constant throughout each run. Also, make sure that the temperature stays consistent between runs. If both conditions remain true, then you’re ready to proceed with adjusting the hot end gap.
4) Slide the extruder down until it hits the stop pin once more. Tighten the screw to hold the extruder assembly in that location.
5) Unscrew the two bolts securing the extruder housing cover plate. Pulling the cover plate out exposes the adjustment knob. Rotate the knob clockwise until the desired amount of clearance has been achieved. Re-tighten the bolt and reattach the cover plate.
6) Test print one last set of prints using PLA filaments.
Step 4: Replacements and Upgrades
Replacing an old part usually means replacing the entire unit. However, if you only want to upgrade certain aspects of the printer, then you’ll probably just need to swap out individual components instead. Basically, there are two critical aspects you’d need to ponder when upgrading or replacing your 3D nozzle.
1. Nozzle Diameters
This is the most crucial aspect because it determines what size plastic filament can be used for printing. The diameter of the nozzle also affects how much heat is generated during operation. A larger diameter will generate less heat than smaller diameter.
So, if you plan to use ABS or PETG materials, then you’ll likely want to go with a large diameter nozzle. On the contrary, if you intend to use PLA, then you’ll want to opt for a small diameter nozzle.
In addition, the nozzle’s diameter directly correlates to the quality of the printed object. Smaller nozzles tend to produce smoother surfaces, while larger nozzles create rougher edges. This is why many people prefer to stick with standard 0.2mm nozzles rather than opting for 1.0 mm nozzles.
2. Nozzle Materials
The second crucial factor is the material itself. Some plastics have better thermal conductivity properties than others. For example, PLA tends to absorb heat faster than other polymers like nylon, making it easier to melt at lower temperatures.
In contrast, ABS absorbs heat slower but generates higher levels of heat compared to PLA. As such, choosing the right type of polymer depends entirely upon your intended application.
For instance, if you plan to print objects requiring high strength, you should choose ABS over PLA. Likewise, if you wish to print delicate items, then you’ll want something like PETG. Of course, you could always mix different kinds of plastics together to achieve the best results possible.
Conclusion (How to Clean a 3d Printer Nozzle)
As you can see, cleaning a 3D printer nozzle isn’t as easy as it may seem. It requires patience, practice, and experience before you get good enough to clean them yourself. But don’t worry! We’ve got all the information you need here, so you won’t have any trouble getting started. Just follow these steps, and you’ll soon find yourself cleaning those pesky nozzles without breaking a sweat.