In 3D printing, there are times your filament twists while entering the extruder from the spool or when coming out of the hotend. This can lead to printing issues for users, so I decided to write this article detailing how to fix this for users experiencing this problem.
To fix filament twisting, properly position the spool and ensure the bearing or tension on the spool is a bit firm to prevent it from unwinding uncontrollably while printing. It’s also important to ensure no hotend gap exists if using a Bowden extruder.
Keep reading to learn the details of these solutions and other important information that will help you fix your 3D printer’s filament twisting.
How to Fix 3D Printer Filament Twisting
- Properly Position the Spool
- Use a Filament Guide
- Install a PTFE Tube
- Get a Spool Clamp or Add Brakes
- Replace or Realign a Worn-Out or Misaligned Hobbed Gear on the Extruder
- Reassemble to fix Hotend Gap
- Clean the Hotend Fan
1. Properly Position the Spool
One way to fix filament twisting in your 3D printer is to position the spool holding the filament well. The correct position allows the extruder to pull at the spool and unwind at a steady pace. An example to illustrate this is if you unroll a ball of yarn. You unwind it by dragging the string with your finger and then pulling it.
The extruder will do the same for a spool. It will drag the filament off the spool at a particular force and pace.
That dragging force should be the only force unwinding the spool. Having the spool in the wrong position can cause the filament to unwind in an uncontrolled manner, causing coils and twists, which can make your filament twist.
One user whose spool position was parallel to the X gantry had his filament twisting before entering his extruder. He resolved this problem by rotating it 90 degrees, which helped. This basically means the filament spool is aligned the same way as the top frame of the 3D printer.
Another user who positioned his spool horizontally with the side down on the floor, had issues with his filaments twisting before entering his extruder, causing failed prints. The position and placement of the spool on the floor meant gravity had a negative effect on it in this position.
He realized he didn’t consider how his spool would unwind in a horizontal position while on the floor. So, he changed the position back to a vertical one for his spool.
2. Use a Filament Guide
Another way to fix filament twisting in your 3D printer is to use a filament guide to direct the spool to the extruder.
Filament guides can help prevent your spool from twisting by giving the spool a defined path to follow when unwinding into the extruder. There are different types and shapes to help with varying needs.
One user with a direct extruder had his spool unwinding and twisting before entering the extruder. He resolved his problem with a PTFE tube, which he passed through a filament guide from Thingiverse.
A user who had similar issue recommended using this Ender 3 Pro Direct Drive Filament Guide to assist with twisting and coiling issues. You can see an example of the filament twisting below.
Another user who also had twisting filament issues resolved his problem by passing it through a guide ring. Here’s another example of filament twisting.
You can find more filament guides by going to the Thingiverse website to explore the different options available to you.
3. Install a PTFE Tube or Switch to a Bowden Extruder
Another way to fix filament twisting in your 3D printer is to add a PTFE tube to your direct extruder to guide the filament into the direct extruder. You can also switch from a direct extruder to a Bowden extruder system or update the stock Bowden system that comes with some 3D printer.
The PTFE is a tube that directs a filament from the spool directly into the extruder, limiting twisting or coils on the filaments. Direct extruder users without a PTFE tube can install them to help remedy the twists or switch to a Bowden extruder, which comes with PTFE tubing.
One user with a loose spool that caused twisting resolved it by putting a PTFE tube which guided his filament from his spool to his direct extruder, stopping the twisting.
Check out this video by BV3D: Bryan Vines which shows how to install a PTFE tube on a Sovol SV01 Direct Extruder.
4. Add a Spool Clamp or Brake
A way of fixing filament that twists in your 3D printer is to add a clamp or brake to your spool holder to increase the tension. The increased tension on the spool holder reduces the rate at which it unwinds to form twists before entering the extruder.
One user whose filaments twisted because of low tension resolved his issue by printing and adding a Spool Clamp to his spool holder, which resolved the problem for him.
Another user who had his filament twists installed brakes to his spool. The user didn’t say whether this worked for him or not.
5. Replace or Realign a Worn-Out or Misaligned Hobbed Gear in the Extruder
A way of fixing filament that twists in your 3D printer is to replace or realign a worn-out or misaligned hobbed gear in the extruder. The hobbed gear is responsible for grabbing and feeding filaments into the extruder. A worn-out or misaligned hobbed gear will twist the filament as it feeds the extruder.
This was the case with one user who had their filament twist at the entrance of the extruder. He found out that his hobbed gear was worn-out and resolved the issue by replacing them.
6. Reassemble Your Hotend to Fix a Hotend Gap
Some users have fixed filament twisting by ensuring there is no gap in the hotend if using a PTFE tube. The filament can end up twisting if the PTFE tube isn’t pushed all the way in and make contact with the base of the nozzle. The gap can also happen if the hotend is clogged.
This issue can happen to a user using a Bowden extruder or a direct drive extruder system.
One user who had twisted filament because of a hotend gap resolved the issue by replacing his Capricorn Bowden tube with a new one. He commented the old tube didn’t go into the hotend, but the new one did.
Check out this video by CHEP where he does a good job explaining how to fix a hotend, which includes fixing a hotend gap.
7. Clean the Hotend Fan
One way to fix filament twisting in a 3D printer is by ensuring the hotend fan is clean and working at the right speed. The hotend fan helps keep the filament cool.
If the fan isn’t cooling because of dirt or a malfunction, the heat sink temperature will rise, causing the filament to go soft and jam the heat break. When this happens, it can cause the extruder to skip some steps and create filament twists.
One user who experienced filament twisting because of their fan being clogged with debris resolved it by cleaning his hotend fan.
Check out this video by 3DPrinterSchool which shows how to clean your hotend fan.