Many people wonder how exactly to change the filament on their 3D printer which is a very important aspect of 3D printing. I decided to write this article to get people comfortable changing their filament correctly.
Many issues can occur when changing filaments, this includes filaments stuck and requiring force to pull out, difficulty in replacing the filament once you have removed the old one and having a bad print after the replacement.
If you are having any of these issues, keep on reading for the step-by-step answer of how to change your filament, as well as answers to other questions that users have.
How to Load Filament into Your 3D Printer – Ender 3 & More
For 3D printers such as Enders, Anets, Prusas, the following simple steps can be used to load your filaments. To load filaments into the printer, you must first remove the old one.
To do this, heat the nozzle until it reaches melting temperature depending on the material being used. To know the exact temperature to melt it to, check the filament spool. Now turn on your printer and click on the temperature button in the settings.
Select the nozzle temperature setting within your 3D printer.
Once the hot end is heated to the appropriate temperature, all you need to do is release the handle on the filament by pressing the extruder lever. The filament spool can then be pulled at from behind the extruder and removed fully.
Once the old filament has been removed, the nozzle is free, and you can start loading a new filament. For 3D printers like the Prusa, Anet, or Ender 3, one thing that helps is to make a sharp, angled cut at the end of the filament before loading.
This will help to feed the extruder of the 3D printer faster and can be done using your Flush Micro Cutters that come with your printer.
After making the cut, insert the filament into the extruder. Gently push the material up the extruder until you feel a bit of resistance. This indicates that the material has reached the nozzle.
If the new filament has a circular end, feeding it into the extruder may be difficult. Experts with 3D printing says that the best thing to do is to gently bend the end of the filament material, as well as a little twisting to get it through the extruder’s entrance.
Check out this video for more information on how to load filaments into your 3D printer.
Many times, you may want to reuse the old filament you removed, but it can get damaged if not properly stored. To store it, thread the end of the material into one of the holes found at the edges of most filament spools.
This ensures that the filament remains in a place and stored properly for future use.
There are better storage options for your filament which I wrote about in Easy Guide to 3D Printer Filament Storage & Humidity – PLA, ABS & More, so feel free to check that out!
How to Change Filament Mid-Print on Your 3D Printer
Sometimes you may discover mid-print that you are running out of filament, and you need to replace it while the material is being printed. It is also possible that you may just want to change the color to something else for a dual color print.
When this happens, it is possible to pause the printing, change the filament and continue with the printing after. If done well, the print will still look great. It is a simple process, although it requires some getting used to.
So the first thing you want to do is press pause on your printer control. Be careful not to press stop as this stops all printing leading to an incomplete print.
Once you hit the pause button, the z-axis of the printer is raised a little allowing you to move it to the home position where you can swap out the filament.
Unlike removing filaments when the printer is not working, you actually do not need to preheat the plate as the printer is already working and heated. Remove the filament and replace it with a new one using the method stated above.
Give the printer a little time to extrude out before hitting continue to resume the print.
Sometimes, there are remnants of the previous filament when you remove the extruder. Make sure you clean it up before resuming the printing.
The Cura slicer can be used to define exactly when you want the slicer to define the exact point of the pause. Once it gets to that point, it pauses, and you can replace the filament.
This video explains in details how to change filaments mid-print.
What Happens When You Run Out of Filament Mid-Print?
The answer to this totally lies in the type of printer being used. If your 3D printer has a sensor, for instance Prusa, Anet, Ender 3, Creality, Anycubic Mega all do, then the printer will pause the print and only resume once the filament has been replaced.
Also, if for some reason the filament gets stuck, these printers will also pause the print. The reverse is the case however, if the printer does not have a sensor.
When the filament runs out, a printer without the run out sensor will continue printing by moving the printer head around like it’s actually printing until it has finished the sequence, although no filament will be extruded.
The result is a print that is not fully done. Running out of filament can have many implications on the printer among which is that the remaining nozzle may clog the passage as it sits there getting heated.
The best way to avoid this is to ensure that you have enough filaments to make the prints you need or to install a separate filament run out sensor. Slicer software like Cura can calculate how many meters you need for specific prints.
If for any reason you notice your filaments running out during a print, it is best to pause and change it to avoid it finishing in the middle of the print.
I’d also recommend monitoring your 3D print if you aren’t going to be near your printer. Check out my article How to Monitor/Control Your 3D Printer Remotely for Free for simple ways on how to do that.
In conclusion, changing filaments in 3D printing is considered an inconvenience and a chore. If not done properly and timely, it can lead to a bad print and waste of material.
When done right however, it does not necessarily have to involve time-consuming and tedious.