A 3D printer jam or filament stuck in the extruder is an issue that many people experience when it comes to 3D printing. As it can be frustrating to pause or delay your 3D printing projects, I decided to write an article detailing how to fix this.
To fix a 3D printer jam, manually load filament at a certain temperature to push or pull the stuck filament out. Clean the extruder and nozzle to clear the jam. Adjusting the retraction settings can also help. However, if the clog is bad or some parts are damaged, replacement would be a better option.
This is the basic answer, but you’ll want to keep on reading for detailed solutions to finally solve this problem.
How to Fix a 3D Printer Jam
Here’s how to fix a 3D printer jam or filament stuck in an extruder/nozzle:
- Use the Hot Push Method
- Use the Cold or Atomic Pull Method
- Clear Hobbed Bolt or Teeth of the Extruder
- Shake the 3D Printer Upside-Down
- Tweak Retraction Speed and Length
- Disassemble and Clean the Nozzle
- Go for Replacements
1. Use the Hot Push Method
The first thing you should do to fix a 3D printer jam is heat up your 3D printer’s hotend to 5-10°C higher than the temperature you normally use for the filament causing a clog (e.g. 210°C for PLA and 240-245°C for ABS or PETG).
Make sure the temperature is enough to melt the stuck filament.
Once it reaches the set temperature, load the filament and manually push it through the PTFE tube or depending upon the dynamics of your extruder. Do this until a straight and perfectly shaped filament starts to extrude out of the nozzle.
One user said that he cuts the stuck filament as far as possible and pushes the remaining piece using some tool. Then, when he loads the new filament, it pushes the old material out.
If the filament is too flexible, use a hex key but make sure it doesn’t damage or scratch the hotend, extruder, or nozzle tip.
Another user said that manually pushing the filament until it extrudes out with the stuck material has helped him free a really bad clog.
One user recommended cutting the end of the pushing filament flat instead of at an angle. You may need to remove the hotend in some cases, but let the thermistor and heater be connected so that you can heat up the material.
Another user also said that he preheats the extruder to PLA/ABS temperature, removes the nozzle, and then pushes the material out using a 1.5mm Allen Key. This reduces the risk of damaging the nozzle but will only work if the clog is not in the nozzle itself.
Users also mentioned using other tools such as:
- 1.5mm Drill Bit
- Needle Nose Pliers
- SIQUK 33Pcs Nozzle Cleaning Needle Set
- Guitar Strings
- Pet Teeth Cleaning Tools
[amalinkspro type=”showcase” asin=”B07G493V8M” apilink=”https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07G493V8M?tag=3dly-20&linkCode=osi&th=1&psc=1″ new-window=”true” addtocart=”false” nofollow=”true” sc-id=”6″ img-sizes=”500:500″ imgs=”https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/61h0AgyCk0L._SL500_.jpg” link-imgs=”false” specs=”Fine sizes assorted – 0.15 mm, 0.25 mm, 0.35mm, 0.4 mm and 0.5 mm cleaning needles not only suitable for most of sizes nozzle but also they can use for cleaning other small parts, such as throat and feeder gear” btn-color=”#ff9900″ btn-text=”Buy on Amazon” alignment=”alignnone” hide-prime=”0″ hide-image=”0″ hide-price=”0″ hide-button=”0″ width=”600″ banner=”” alt=”SIQUK 33 Pcs 3D Printer Nozzle Cleaning Tools Kit 30 Pcs 0.15mm, 0.25mm, 0.35mm, 0.4mm, 0.5mm Cleaning Needles 2 Pcs Tweezers and 1 Pc Cleaning Cloth”]SIQUK 33 Pcs 3D Printer Nozzle Cleaning Tools Kit 30 Pcs 0.15mm, 0.25mm, 0.35mm, 0.4mm, 0.5mm Cleaning Needles 2 Pcs Tweezers and 1 Pc Cleaning Cloth[/amalinkspro]
One user recommended keeping the E string straight and not moving it too harshly as it can scratch the nozzle, affecting the quality of future prints.
Talking about the pet teeth cleaning tools, a user said that they are useful as they are sharp and can grab the material efficiently.
2. Use the Cold or Atomic Pull Method
The second way to fix a 3D printer jam is to apply the cold pull. It is similar to hot push but instead of forcing the filament to extrude out of the nozzle, you pull it from the opposite end.
Simply heat up to a temperature such as 210°C for PLA so that it can merge/stick with the new/cold pull filament. Manually feed some filament through the feed tube.
Once the filament starts coming out of the nozzle, decrease the nozzle temperature to a point where the filament is still flexible but not too soft such as 90°C for PLA (110-130°C for ABS and 100-140°C for Nylon).
Cut off the filament dripping out of the nozzle tip and then pull the new filament up from the feeding point.
One user said that if the filament is not feeding or coming out of the nozzle, you can force the filament through by applying pressure using a tiny hex key, followed by a cold pull.
Another user suggests heating the nozzle at 20°C above normal temperature, pushing the filament with hands, keeping the pressure on it while the temperature goes down, and then pulling the filament out at 90°C.
One user recommended buying and using eSUN 3D Printer Cleaning Filament for cold pull.
[amalinkspro type=”showcase” asin=”B08RSCP95X” apilink=”https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08RSCP95X?tag=3dly-20&linkCode=osi&th=1&psc=1″ new-window=”true” addtocart=”false” nofollow=”true” sc-id=”6″ img-sizes=”500:500″ imgs=”https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/31GnAgo2PwS._SL500_.jpg” link-imgs=”false” specs=”【Cleaning Filament】Environmentally Friendly and Non-toxic. Keep your 3D printer nozzle in good health, clean between different material and color changes to extend nozzle life.” btn-color=”#ff9900″ btn-text=”Buy on Amazon” alignment=”alignnone” hide-prime=”0″ hide-image=”0″ hide-price=”0″ hide-button=”0″ width=”600″ banner=”” alt=”eSUN Cleaning Filament 1.75mm, 3D Printer Cleaning Filament, Prevent Nozzles and Extruders Clogging, 100g Spool 3D Printing Filament for 3D Printers, Natural”]eSUN Cleaning Filament 1.75mm, 3D Printer Cleaning Filament, Prevent Nozzles and Extruders Clogging, 100g Spool 3D Printing Filament for 3D Printers, Natural[/amalinkspro]
The user said that extruding this filament through the hotend removes any leftover/stuck material or debris. Because of its compatibility with different temperatures, eSUN Cleaning Filament is useful to fix a jam, no matter which materials are stuck inside.
Another user said that he always cleans the hotend before switching to a different material. The filament is useful as it significantly removes any residue from the previous filament that can potentially cause a clog.
Using this filament removes and prevents clogs while ensuring a smoother printing process.
Check out the video below on how to clean a 3D printer nozzle using cold pull.
3. Clear Hobbed Bolt or Teeth of the Extruder
Another way to fix a 3D printer jam is to clean the extruder, hobbed bolt, and teeth in it. Sometimes a filament strand or small piece can break and get stuck in the extruder’s small components, blocking the way for the new filament to pass through.
Here are some steps you can do:
- Heat up the printer to 200-220°C.
- Remove the extruder cover.
- Unscrew the fan shroud to have access to the hobbed bolt and teeth.
- Use a pointed tool such as tweezers or a needle to take the filament out.
Before doing this, read the manufacturer manual for your 3D printer to understand the dynamics of your 3D printer extruder so that you don’t damage any part while opening.
Check out the video below to see how to fix a 3D printer jam in an extruder this way.
Responding to the video, one user said that you should unscrew the extruder and hotend while it’s still cold. Then heat it up and start clearing out the filament jam. After cleaning, turn the heat off and reassemble everything.
Although this can take a few more minutes, it’s safer and reduces the risks of burning your fingers or damaging the hotend fan.
One user said that you can also fix this by preheating the printer, forcing the broken filament down using a hex key, and then loading the new filament as this can push the old filament through the nozzle.
Here is a video showing how to remove the filament from the extruder using a hex key.
4. Shake the 3D Printer Upside-Down
One way suggested by some users to fix a 3D printer jam is to hold the 3D printer upside down and give it a gentle shake.
One user said that he has fixed this issue a couple of times by turning the 3D printer upside down and shaking it gently.
Another user agreed and stated that this solution can be helpful if the filament strand is stuck in between the gear and the hotend.
5. Tweak Retraction Speed and Length
Though it seems like a hardware problem, sometimes you can fix a 3D printer jam by tweaking the retraction settings in the slicer. If you are facing a jam every time after 30-40 minutes of printing like one user, this could be because of a wrong retraction speed or length.
Sometimes when the filament is being retracted too fast or too far, it tends to kink. Now when the filament is pushed back through, it folds on itself and starts curling inside the extruder, causing a jam.
To change the retraction settings in Cura:
- Go to the Print Settings.
- Search “Retraction” or go under the “Travel” tab.
- Change values of “Retraction Distance” and “Retraction Speed”.
- Tweak settings until the issue is resolved.
Take a look at the video below about changing retraction settings in Cura.
One user faced the same issue and changing the Retraction Distance from 5.0mm to 2.5mm and the retraction speed to 2mm/s resolved it for him. The user did 9 hours of printing afterward without facing any filament jams or curling in the extruder.
The exact settings and values can vary depending on what 3D printer you have, and whether it’s a Direct Drive or Bowden extruder.
Another user said the same that adjusting the retraction settings can help and a lower value is better. It prevents the filament from snapping if there is excessive pressure on it from the gears.
6. Disassemble and Clean the Nozzle
Another good way to fix a 3D printer jam is to remove the nozzle from the extruder and clean it. Sometimes extremely small particles get stuck in a way that removing them becomes almost impossible unless you take the nozzle out.
You can clean it and fix a jam within 4 steps:
- Remove the nozzle using a socket wrench or any suitable tool.
- Soak the nozzle in acetone for 10-15 minutes.
- You can also use a blow torch or heat gun to for 1-2 minutes soften/melt the filament
- Clean the nozzle using a soft cloth to remove any burned filament residues.
- You may also apply the E-string method or see through the nozzle to ensure it is fully opened.
You can easily get all the necessary tools from Amazon:
One user said that the socket in the nozzle change tool kit is solid and fits perfectly to the stock nozzle on his Ender 3 Pro, making nozzle replacement a lot easier.
[amalinkspro type=”showcase” asin=”B00004TUCV” apilink=”https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00004TUCV?tag=3dly-20&linkCode=osi&th=1&psc=1″ new-window=”true” addtocart=”false” nofollow=”true” sc-id=”6″ img-sizes=”500:500″ imgs=”https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/41cK1mdUsDL._SL500_.jpg” link-imgs=”false” specs=”DUAL TEMPERATURE HEAT GUNS: The HT1000 Heat Gun offers a 750ᵒF and 1000ᵒF temperature setting to easily help complete household home improvement tasks” btn-color=”#ff9900″ btn-text=”Buy on Amazon” alignment=”alignnone” hide-prime=”0″ hide-image=”0″ hide-price=”0″ hide-button=”0″ width=”600″ banner=”” alt=”Wagner Spraytech 0503008 HT1000 Heat Gun, 2 Temp Settings 750ᵒF & 1000ᵒF, Great for Soften paint, Caulking, Adhesive, Putty Removal, Shrink Wrap, Bend Plastic Pipes, Loosen Rusted Nuts or Bolts”]Wagner Spraytech 0503008 HT1000 Heat Gun, 2 Temp Settings 750ᵒF & 1000ᵒF, Great for Soften paint, Caulking, Adhesive, Putty Removal, Shrink Wrap, Bend Plastic Pipes, Loosen Rusted Nuts or Bolts[/amalinkspro]
You can also get a Brass Wire Brush from Amazon. Only use the small and medium brushes with “Brass Bristles” for cleaning surfaces without scratching them.
Another user also mentioned baking the nozzle in an oven at a high temperature such as 280-300°C.
One user recommended not to use the gun or butane torch while the nozzle is attached to the extruder/hotend, or you can burn away your thermistor, wires, internal tubes, or other nearby parts.
Check out the video below to see how to remove a 3D printer jam using different techniques.
7. Go for Replacements
If nothing seems to work out or you have noticed some damage, it is better to replace the components. Mostly, they aren’t that expensive and can be easily bought from Amazon.
Some of the main replacements that may be needed include:
- Official Creality Hotend Set
- UMLIFE Hotend Fan
- 5Pcs Creality Thermistors
- Creality PTFE Tube with Cutter
One user recommended buying a single pack from Amazon which includes multiple components. Make sure you read the manufacturer’s manual to buy suitable products that are compatible with your 3D printer.
[amalinkspro type=”showcase” asin=”B09NKZ7Q58″ apilink=”https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09NKZ7Q58?tag=3dly-20&linkCode=osi&th=1&psc=1″ new-window=”true” addtocart=”false” nofollow=”true” sc-id=”6″ img-sizes=”500:500″ imgs=”https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/517tgUimkUL._SL500_.jpg” link-imgs=”false” specs=”【Quality Assurance】The Ender 3 hotend extruder kit and accessories are all original and high quality from 100% quality assurance. Suitable for Creality Ender 3 / Ender 3S/ Ender 3 Pro” btn-color=”#ff9900″ btn-text=”Buy on Amazon” alignment=”alignnone” hide-prime=”0″ hide-image=”0″ hide-price=”0″ hide-button=”0″ width=”600″ banner=”” alt=”Official Creality Original Ender 3 Full Assembled Hotend Set, Replacement Full Assemble Hotend Kit with Mental Shell and Dual Fan for Ender 3 / Ender 3S/ Ender 3 Pro”]Official Creality Original Ender 3 Full Assembled Hotend Set, Replacement Full Assemble Hotend Kit with Mental Shell and Dual Fan for Ender 3 / Ender 3S/ Ender 3 Pro[/amalinkspro]
Going through these methods should help you to fix your problem of a 3D printer jam.