3 Ways How to Fix 3D Printer Clogging Issues – Ender 3 & More

One issue that people experience with their 3D printers is clogging, whether it’s the hot end or the heat break. This article will detail why your 3D printer clogs in the first place, then ways on how to fix them.

Keep on reading for more information about clogging issues on your 3D printer.

Why Do 3D Printers Keep Getting Clogged?

The main reason 3D printers get clogged are:

  • Switching between filaments with different melting points, like ABS to PLA
  • Not printing at a high enough temperature
  • Using poor quality filament that has absorbed moisture
  • A build up of dust and debris blocking the pathway
  • Your hotend not being assembled properly

How to Fix 3D Printer Hotend Clogs

If your 3D printer is showing signs of a clogged nozzle you can fix it by using one or a combination of  methods, which we’ll look at below.

Some signs that your 3D printer hotend is clogged is stringing, under extrusion, extruder gears making a clicking noise, and uneven extrusion. 3D printer hotends can have partial clogs or full clogs.

Here’s how to fix 3D printer hotend clogs:

  • Do a cold pull with cleaning filament
  • Clean nozzle with a nozzle cleaning needle & wire brush
  • Change out the nozzle

Do a Cold Pull with Cleaning Filament

One of the best methods to clean out clogs from your hotend/nozzle is to do a cold pull with cleaning filament.

The process basically requires you to insert the cleaning filament into your 3D printer as you normally would at the recommended temperature, then let it cool down and manually pull it out.

What happens is the filament cools down and pulls out any remnants of filament from a clog to clear it out. You might have to do a few cold pulls to fully clean out your hotend.

Cleaning filament is specifically quite sticky so it’s effective for picking up junk from the hotend.

One user who used cleaning filament said it worked really well for cleaning their hotend. I’d recommend going for something like the eSUN 3D Printer Cleaning Filament from Amazon.

It’s also possible to do this with normal filament like PLA, or another recommended one being Nylon.

This YouTube video shows how to use the cleaning filament.

Clean Nozzle with a Nozzle Cleaning Needle & Wire Brush

To clean the nozzle specifically, a lot of people recommend using a nozzle cleaning needle that is specifically made to clear debris and other blockages in the nozzle.

You can go with something like the KITANIS 3D Printer Nozzle Cleaning Kit from Amazon. It comes with 10 nozzle cleaning needles, 2 brass wire brushes and two pairs of tweezers, along with a container for the needles.

Many users commented on how well it worked to clean out their nozzles.

Some people have even used things like the high E string on a guitar as an alternative.

I’d recommend wearing something like the RAPICCA Heat-Resistant Gloves to improve safety since nozzles get really hot. One user commented that it’s a lifesaver when working with hot 3D printer parts and hasn’t had any issues with it.

You basically want to heat your hotend to the same temperature as the last material you 3D printed with or slightly higher by about 10°C. Then you raise up your Z axis so you can get underneath the nozzle and gently push the nozzle cleaning needle through the nozzle.

This should break up the bits of filament that are clogging the nozzle so filament can flow out easier.

Check out this YouTube video for an illustration of how to use a nozzle cleaning needle to clean a clogged nozzle.

After you clean the inside of your nozzle, you can use the brass wire brush to clean the surface of your 3D printer’s nozzle, especially when it’s covered with melted filament.

Check out this video showing you the process of cleaning a hotend with a brass wire brush.

You can heat your nozzle to around 200°C and use the brass wire brush to clean the nozzle and get rid of any debris and leftover filament.

Change Out the Nozzle

If none of the above methods work to clean up your 3D printer’s nozzle, it might be time to replace it. In general, it is a good idea to replace your 3D printer’s nozzle every three to six months, especially if you are using cheaper brass nozzles or printing a more abrasive filament.

While changing out your nozzle, make sure to not damage the thin thermistor wires on the heat block, but holding it in place with a wrench or pliers.

I’d recommend going with these 3D Printer Nozzle Change Tools with Replacement Nozzles from Amazon. One user said he brought this for his Ender 3 Pro and it was better quality than he thought it would be. The socket fit the stock nozzle perfectly and made removal easy.

Also, the nozzles provided were made well.

Check out this video by Josef Prusa on how to replace your 3D printer’s nozzle.

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