When printing with your 3D printer, you want everything to go smoothly. You want to have a seamless printing process with a high-quality result to show for it. But is this really what happens when you 3D print?
Most times, the seamless experience we hope for when we 3D print isn’t what we get, and this is mostly because of a clogged nozzle.
When your 3D printer nozzle is clogged, your printing practically stops halfway. The filament can’t move to the printing head, so you can’t continue to print unless you go through several tiring processes to get it back running.
In this article, you will get to know the factors that cause your 3D printer nozzle to clog and all you need to do to prevent your nozzle from clogging so you can experience the seamless 3D printing process you deserve.
Let’s dive right in.
The nozzle is an essential part of the 3D printer that places liquid filament directly into the build area for printing. Its main function is to let the melted filament pass through to the nozzle to get to the build area. They come in different diameters, depending on the purpose you want them to serve.
For instance, if you want your 3D project to be ready faster, you can go for a larger nozzle; however, if you are particular about finer details, then you can go for a nozzle that isn’t large.
A nozzle is a major component of the 3D extruder assembly, which is considered the heart of the 3D printer. This is because the extruder assembly consists of three major components (extruder, hot end, and nozzle) that make 3D printing successful. If anything goes wrong at the extruder assembly, like a clogged nozzle, every other thing will go wrong.
The extruder practically takes the filament and pushes it to the printer in a steady and organized way. The pushed filament goes into the hot end, where the filament is heated with a heat sink, a heat break, and a thermistor.
The hot end melts the filament in its present state (solid or semi-solid) to a liquid form and pushes it through the opening in the nozzle so it can be transferred to the print head.
The success of the printing process lies in the ability of the filament to go through the nozzle effectively without clogging, or the filament won’t get to the print head, and the printing won’t take place.
This is why it is important to ensure all preventive measures are put in place to prevent the nozzle from clogging during your 3D printing.
There are many factors that may cause your 3D printer to clog. Below are some of the factors that may make your 3D printer nozzle clog.
The type of filament you use for your 3D printing goes a long way in determining if the nozzle of your 3D printer would clog or not.
Filaments are created with different levels of quality and different tolerance levels. Low-quality filaments can’t sustain high tolerance tests that occur at the extruder assembly, which is why most of them get clogged in the process.
If the printing temperature of your 3D is too low for the filament you are using to print, then the filament might not melt when it gets to the hot end. When this happens, the extruder assembly gets highly pressured because the filament can’t flow freely in the nozzle as the nozzle is clogged.
The nozzle can also get clogged if the printing temperature is too high for the filament you are making use of. Because the temperature is too high, the filament gets softened and goes backward before getting a chance to reach the hot end. This, in turn, makes it really difficult for the extruder to take hold of the filament, thereby causing clogs in the nozzle.
Some filaments have certain particles that don’t melt during the printing process. They get burned as they pass through the hot end, and their remains get stuck in the nozzle. In the end, the pile-up of all the burnt remains of these particles takes a toll on the nozzle, which causes a jam during the printing process and clogs the nozzle.
There is a possibility for clogging to take place at the nozzle if the nozzle is too close to the bed. This causes the filament to go up and down the nozzle, also known as ‘retrograde extrusion”.
A clog is likely to occur if there are thin and thick sides to your filament. This is because the extruder will have a hard time taking hold of the thin sides of the filament, and the thick side of the filament can cause pressure at the extruder, thereby clogging the nozzle.
Setting an incorrect nozzle height causes complications during the printing process. If the height of the nozzle is too high, it means the filament would have to travel a farther distance to get to the surface. This causes the filaments to move from hot to cold due to the long distance involved.
Also, if the height of the nozzle is too low, there won’t be enough room between the nozzle and the paint surface to enable the filament to move freely and in the right manner; this restriction in movement causes the nozzle to clog.
It is frustrating to experience clogs in the nozzle during 3D printing, which is why it is important to take preventive measures against nozzle clogging. Below are preventive measures you can take to prevent your nozzle from clogging whenever you print.
Be intentional about going for the best quality filaments. Buying cheap and low-quality filament does not only cause nozzle clogs. It also affects the quality of your print projects.
More so, low-quality filaments often come with inconsistent filament diameters that cause nozzle clogs.
The way to ascertain if you are purchasing high-quality filaments is to ensure you are buying them from trusted suppliers. You can also check for diameter consistency, which can be done by making use of a caliper to measure the different parts of the filament.
When dust, dirt, and other particles get stuck in the nozzle, the nozzle gets clogged because the filament in the nozzle can’t move freely as it is supposed to. This can be prevented if the nozzle is properly cleaned whenever you switch filaments or before you add filaments to the nozzle.
This is because there is always a residual amount of filament left in the nozzle after printing. When it is not removed or cleaned out, it becomes a blockage for the next filament to move easily and freely.
To stop this from happening, brush the nozzle from the outside with a wire brush before and after you add your filament for printing. You can also make use of the brush and brash bristle to protect the nozzle from damage.
Print at the right temperature
Setting the right temperature for your 3D printing goes a long way in preventing your nozzle from clogging. The easiest way to do this is to take note of the printing temperature recommended by the manufacturer.
PLA performs well with 180C and upwards, and ABS performs well with a temperature around 225C+
Pay attention to the temperature and find the ‘sweet spot’ that produces the right adhesion without clogging the nozzle.
More so, before you change filaments, endeavor to remove the former filament completely by cleaning the nozzle before changing the print temperature, as noted earlier.
When you don’t level your print bed, you put your nozzle at risk of getting clogged. This is because an unleveled bed causes inconsistencies in the height of the nozzle.
You can level your bed manually with the help of the step-by-step guide that comes with your 3D printer. You might not have to level it manually if you purchase a 3D printer that comes with an auto leveler.
It’s important to set your nozzle height right to prevent nozzle clogging. If you set it too high, the filament will move from hot to a cooler temperature before getting to the print bed, thereby increasing pressure at the extruder and clogging the nozzle.
To determine the correct nozzle height, you have to consider the diameter of your nozzle. Ideally, the nozzle height should be 50% to 70% of the diameter of the nozzle. Setting your nozzle height around 50% to 70% of the diameter of your nozzle would ensure that your nozzle doesn’t experience clogs.
Experiencing nozzle clogs during printing is never a pleasant experience; it is frustrating and tiring. However, you can prevent this situation from occurring by taking preventive measures, which include purchasing high-quality filament, regular cleaning of the nozzle, setting the right print temperature, leveling the print bed, and setting the correct nozzle height.
Putting all of these preventive measures into consideration would ensure that you have a seamless printing experience without clogs in your 3D printer nozzle.