Three ways to clean an extruder nozzle

The extruder nozzle is one of the most problematic parts in a 3D printer. It can easily become clogged or clogged. A poor flow of plastic will affect the quality of the finished model. Print defects will occur. Sometimes the work stops completely because the printer needs the nozzle cleaned.

The main causes of a clogged extruder

Regardless of the type of print head, it can get clogged. This is caused by filament or dirt that accumulates inside the assembly. The most common cause of a clogged nozzle is when the printer is used improperly in an environment:

  1. Excessive loading, when the device runs for long periods of time without stopping.
  2. In dusty environments. Sometimes the printing device is placed in a non-residential room or shop that is very rarely cleaned.
  3. Incorrect printing settings. In particular, the use of inappropriate filament or incorrectly set fusing temperature.

In some cases, the design of the nozzle itself can cause frequent clogging. For example, when a printer comes with a defective extruder. The geometry of the nozzle is flawed. The device should be returned under warranty or the nozzle should be replaced separately.

Information! The cause of debris can be the filament itself. A simple factory defect or a burr on the plastic can cause a plug.

In any case, you should carefully examine the clogging problem and only then proceed with prevention. If you are afraid of ruining the device, it is better to take the printer to a service center.

Dust and debris in the nozzle

The first cause is dirt or dust that got in from the outside. More often than not, the nozzle becomes clogged with debris over a long period of time. Dirt can accumulate for months or even years. It will sinter on the walls of the nozzle, and a deposit will form. Over time, it can cause the filament to stick.

Extruder temperature too high

Beginning 3D makers think that excessively high melt temperatures will help avoid the problem of clogging. This is an incorrect judgment. When working at a higher temperature, the plastic instantly sinter right inside the assembly. A filament jam occurs. A plug is formed.

Therefore, it is important to follow the temperature regime recommended by the manufacturer of the filament. Sometimes this indicator may vary slightly. Somewhere around +/- 5 ° C. It all depends on the model of the printer, as well as the extruder itself. The optimal melting temperature is found experimentally.

How to clean a 3D printer’s extruder: step-by-step instructions

You can clean your printer yourself without going to a professional repair shop. There are several working methods that can be used to clean the nozzle. Let’s consider each of them step by step.

By hand

The roughest way to clean an extruder. This method uses thin objects:

  • A drill bit up to 0.35 mm in diameter;
  • a guitar string with a diameter of up to 0.33 mm;
  • A leg from a diode or transistor.

Special tooling for nozzle cleaning for different diameter

Cleaning Algorithm:

  • Silence the 3D printer. Wait for the nozzle to cool slightly.
  • Remove any remaining filament from the tip of the nozzle.
  • Slowly drill or poke the hole with the indicated objects. Be careful not to make the hole too deep.
  • Turn on the printer, feed the plastic to print.
  • Repeat the procedure several times until the filament begins to come out in an even layer.
  • Some experts recommend that you clean the nozzle live while the printer is on. This may be done if the primary debris has been removed.

Warning. Do not use a screwdriver or drill! You may miscalculate the force and go through the extruder, damaging the plastic gripping mechanism. It is better to use a thin drill clamped in a pair of pliers.

Cleaning with a thin tool

Sometimes mechanical cleaning only partially helps. The drill can remove the cause of the blockage, but there is still a buildup or buildup of plastic inside the nozzle. This situation is often seen with ABS. To remove the filament completely, you will need to clean the nozzle in an aggressive environment. For example, in acetone or dichloroethane.

Cleaning Algorithm:

  • Turn off the printer, let the extruder cool down a bit.
  • Unscrew the nozzle, and put it in a container with acetone or dichloroethane.
  • Leave the part for 2 to 3 hours, then take it out and clean the nozzle with a needle.
  • Screw the nozzle onto the print head. Remove the plastic.

Important: Replacement nozzles can be stored in a can of acetone. This way they will always be ready to use without pre-cleaning.

This is one of the safest methods of cleaning with filament, which does not involve any interference with the extruder or partial disassembly of the part. Two types of plastic are used for nozzle cleaning:

Filament with a higher melting point. A spool of refractory plastic is placed in the printer. It literally pushes the plug out of the extruder.
Cleaning plastic. It is usually sold in the form of short sticks or small spools. It is similar in structure to nylon. Cleaning filament is the safest way to remove cork from the extruder.
We recommend the latter method as an alternative to manual or chemical cleaning.

Fouling residue on the filament

Prevention of fouling – expert tips
To keep the extruder and nozzle in good condition, it is worth following a number of rules:

Use the filament melting temperature specified by the manufacturer.
Have the printer serviced regularly. You can unscrew the nozzle once a week and leave it in a can of acetone overnight. If the printer runs almost every day, it is worth increasing the number of maintenance cleanings to 2-3 times a week.
Clean the room where the printer stands. Have it wet cleaned at least once a week.
The main thing is not to delay cleaning if the printing device suddenly stops working.

Nozzle cleaning is an important and necessary procedure. It is performed in critical cases, as well as in the form of prevention. The method of cleaning depends on the availability of hand tools or chemical cleaners. It is best to buy a few sticks of cleaning filament so that the printer is ready to use in just a few minutes after removing the plug.

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