A 3D printer or an Ender 3 that doesn’t start a print is an issue people want to avoid having, so I decided to write an article detailing how to fix such a problem. There are a few solutions you can try out, so try some of them out, and hopefully, it’ll help solve the issue.
To fix the Ender 3 not printing or starting, you need to reflash the firmware to rule out any errors, calibrate your hot end temperature with PID Tuning, and check your filament if it has snapped from somewhere. The Ender 3 also won’t print if the nozzle is too close to the print bed or the nozzle has been clogged.
There’s more information that you’ll want to know to finally solve this problem once and for all, so keep on reading through this article.
Why is My Ender 3 Not Starting or Printing?
An Ender 3 not starting or printing occurs when there’s a firmware incompatibility issue or your PID values haven’t been calibrated. It can also happen if your filament is broken from somewhere or the nozzle is trying to print too close to the print bed. A clogged nozzle will also stop the Ender 3 from starting.
That is just the basic answer to get you started. We’ll now take an in-depth look into all the possible causes of the Ender 3 or the Ender 3 won’t start printing.
The following is a bullet point list of all the probable reasons that your Ender 3 is not starting.
- Ender 3 Needs a Restart
- Voltage Supply Isn’t Adequate
- Connections Are Loose
- SD Card Is Causing the Problem
- PID Values Aren’t Tuned
- Nozzle Is Clogged
- Issue Relates to the Filament
- Ender 3 Has a Blue or Blank Screen
- Nozzle Is Too Close to the Print Bed
- There’s a Firmware Compatibility Issue
Now that we know the potential causes of the Ender 3 not starting or printing, we can now get into the fixes of this problem.
How to Fix Ender 3 Not Starting or Printing
1. Restart the 3D Printer
One of the most common fixes of the Ender 3 not starting or printing is simply restarting it. Many people who’ve had this issue were able to fix it by just doing that.
It’s common practice to restart a device when something goes wrong since rebooting can often fix the issue straight away. If you observe that your Ender 3 won’t start printing, turn it off, unplug everything, and leave it for a few hours.
After a while has passed, plug everything back in and turn the 3D printer back on. If the underlying cause of this problem doesn’t go deep, the restart should fix the Ender 3 promptly.
One user said that they also experienced the issue of the Ender 3 not starting and printing, but as soon as they restarted the machine, it started to operate again normally.
Now, obviously, this may not work for most of you, but giving it a go is still worth it as it could save you a lot of time and effort right off the bat.
If restarting your 3D printer hasn’t done the trick, let’s check out the next solution.
2. Check the Voltage and Use a Wall Socket Directly
The Creality Ender 3 has a red voltage switch on the back of the power supply that can be set to either 115V or 230V. The voltage that you set your Ender 3 to depends on what region you are living in.
If you are living in the United States, you want to set the voltage to 115V, while in the UK, 230V.
Double-check what voltage you need to set based on where you are living since this is based on your power grid. Many users don’t realize this and end up having their Ender 3 not starting or printing.
Once you’ve set the correct voltage, try plugging your 3D printer directly into a wall socket instead of using an extension cord.
One user who reported this issue fixed it using this method, so it’s worth checking off your list before moving on to other solutions.
3. Make Sure the Connections Are Properly Secure
The Ender 3 has multiple connections that allow it to start up and function normally. Everything has to be plugged in nice and tight otherwise the machine may not start or print.
In some situations, people have found the wiring and connection loose and plugged in improperly. Once they secured everything appropriately, their Ender 3 started to print just as usual.
I recommend that you do the same and check your connections thoroughly for anything missing or attached loosely. It’s very important to inspect the wires of the main Power Supply Unit (PSU) for any shortages or deformations.
One 3D printer user having the same problem said that he had some of the PSU’s plugs out of order, simply because they had left them loosely plugged in for too long.
The following video by Creality is an official guide for how to check all the connections and wiring of your Ender 3, so do give it a watch for a visual tutorial.
4. Try Printing Without an SD Card
In some cases, the SD card is the reason that your Ender 3 is not able to start or print. The possibility here is that the SD card might have been corrupted and is no longer letting your 3D printer access it.
This can cause the Ender 3 to be stuck inside an endless loop, where it’s constantly trying to extract information from the SD card, but is failing to do so.
Before you move on to other, more time-consuming fixes, it’s worth ruling this one out to see if a faulty SD card is the case with you.
An easy method of confirming this is starting your Ender 3 without any SD card to see if starts up well and you can navigate around the LCD interface easily.
If it does, then you should follow the steps given below to rule out the possibility of a faulty SD card troubling your 3D printer.
- Get another SD card and format it to FAT32 before you use it – done by right-clicking the SD card in File Explorer, selecting “Format” and choosing “Fat32”.
- Slice the model you want to print and load into your new SD card
- Insert the SD card into the Ender 3 and simply print
This should get the job done for you, but if the issue still persists, then it means that the underlying cause is a bit more severe. Continue reading for more important fixes.
5. Run a PID Tuning Test for Temperature Calibration
Another likely reason that your Ender 3 or Ender 3 V2 is not printing is that it’s trying to maintain a stable temperature with minimal fluctuations of 1-2° but it’s repeatedly failing at it.
A total of 10 seconds are required for the 3D printer to stabilize the temperature before it starts printing. It could be that your Ender 3 is struggling to reach a constant temperature, leading the machine to not start printing at all.
In this case, your PID values are not tuned and there is significant temperature variation in either the hot end or the print bed. Either way, poorly calibrated PID values may not let your Ender 3 start and print.
Your Creality Ender 3 starts printing when there are minimal temperature fluctuations in the hot end, so the quality of the 3D printed model can be high-quality and constant throughout the print.
Several people have discussed this in forums and after trying one simple method of temperature calibration, their Ender 3 started working flawlessly. Therefore, this fix is more common as compared to other possible solutions.
PID Tuning is done by any software that can send G-Code commands to your 3D printer, such as Pronterface or OctoPrint.
The following command is used to run the PID Autotune process on a 3D printer through a dedicated terminal window.
M303 E0 S200 C10
Running the PID Tuning process is very simple, but it can get a bit lengthy. That’s why I’ve covered a detailed guide on How to Calibrate Your Hot End and Heat Bed With PID Tuning that can teach you how to calibrate your Ender 3’s temperature.
It’s definitely worth reading the guide as many people have fixed their Ender 3 not starting or printing with the PID Tuning process.
The following is a nice visual explanation of how you can perform the PID Tuning process on your Ender 3 in 10 easy steps.
6. Inspect Your Nozzle for Blockages
The Creality Ender 3 or Ender 3 Pro could also not be starting or printing because of a clogged nozzle that’s blocked with pieces of leftover filament. You try printing but nothing comes out of the nozzle. This is a good sign of a blockage in the area.
This can happen over time when you frequently change filament spools and go back and forth with different filaments, or it gets contaminated with dirt, dust, or grime.
As time progresses, your nozzle will have done a lot of extrusions and it’s common for some part of the material to get left behind in the nozzle. In that case, the fix is quite easy and simple.
To clean your nozzle, it’s wise to pre-heat the nozzle first so the area becomes hot, and the clog can be removed easily. A temperature of around 200°C is recommended for pre-heating for PLA and around 230°C for ABS & PETG.
Select the “Preheat PLA” option if you are using PLA on your Ender 3’s LCD interface to begin pre-heating it.
When the nozzle is ready, use a pin or needle that’s smaller than your nozzle diameter to effectively clean out the clog. Be careful with your movements since the nozzle will be quite hot at this stage.
I recommend using the 3D Printer Nozzle Cleaning Tool Kit from Amazon that’s quite affordable and is known to work great. Hundreds of expert 3D printer users have bought this product and report nothing but great results.
If you can’t get the clog with the needle, you can push the blockage out of the nozzle using another filament, as many people have tried and tested. After you’re done, you can use a brush to clear out the remaining filament from the nozzle.
I’ve written an in-depth guide on How to Clean Your 3D Printer Nozzle and Hotend Properly, so do give it a read for more tips and tricks for clearing out a blocked nozzle.
If you’ve inspected your nozzle and found out that there are no blockages to cause this problem, then it seems that you need to check your filament next.
Check out the video below by Thomas Sanladerer on how to clean your 3D printer nozzle effectively.
7. Check Your Filament
If you’ve gone through reboots, trying another SD card, and inspecting the nozzle for clogs, and the problem is still there, then it’s time that you take a close, hard look at the filament you’re using.
While dry or moisture-filled filament won’t literally stop your Ender 3 from printing, there’s a good chance that it can snap into two when you use it consistently due to it being more brittle.
If you have a Direct Drive extrusion system, spotting a snapped filament isn’t hard as everything is right in front of us, but due to the tubular design of the Bowden-style setup, your filament might have broken from somewhere inside the PTFE tube and you wouldn’t be aware of it.
Therefore, you want to remove the filament altogether and examine if it has broken from somewhere. If it has snapped, you will need to pull out the filament from both the extruder and the hot end.
After replacing the broken filament with a new one, your Ender 3 should start printing normally. In some cases, people have had their new filament snapped into two as soon as they fed it inside.
This can happen when your idler pressure is too strong, which is a gear mounted on your extruder determining how tight or loose the filament will be gripped inside.
To check whether this is the case, loosen the spring tension on the extruder idler all the way, insert the filament, start the print, and tighten it until the filament doesn’t slip.
Checking your filament if it hasn’t snapped and the idler tensioner isn’t giving the filament enough breathing room are two important steps that you have to go over before moving onto the firmware part of the solutions.
Filament can also get brittle and snap due to absorbing too much moisture in the environment, so you may need to dry out your filament or use a new spool. You can check out my article about How to Dry Filament Like a Pro – PLA, ABS, & More.
If both of those areas are in good condition, and you still haven’t fixed the issue yet, it’s time to move on to another possible fix.
8. Fix the Ender 3 Blue or Blank Screen
There’s another issue that could be stopping your Ender 3 to start or print: an appearance of a blank or blue screen on the LCD interface whenever you boot your 3D printer up.
This can occur due to a number of reasons, whether it’s the firmware that needs reflashing or your mainboard has stopped working. Either way, there are a number of fixes that you can try to fix the Ender 3 blue screen.
I’ve covered an in-depth guide on How to Fix a Blue Screen/Black Screen on a 3D Printer that discusses all the possible causes of this problem and describes their fixes as well.
Simply speaking, you’ll want to try the following fixes:
- Connect to the Right Port of the LCD Screen
- Set the Correct Voltage of Your 3D Printer
- Use Another SD Card
- Turn Off & Unplug the Printer
- Make Sure Your Connections Are Secure & Fuse is Not Blown
- Reflash the Firmware
- Contact Your Seller & Ask for Replacements
- Replace the Mainboard
9. Make Sure the Nozzle Isn’t Too Close to the Print Bed
If your nozzle is too close to the print bed, the Ender 3 won’t start or print simply because it doesn’t have enough room to extrude the filament. This means it is technically starting the printing process, but isn’t extruding as it should.
Below is an example of the leveling process on a glass bed which is higher than with a standard flatter surface.
When the nozzle is too close to the print bed, it will scrape on the build surface, so you want to use the thumb screws to adjust the height of the bed. It should be pretty easy to spot and you can test it by trying to slide a piece of paper underneath the nozzle.
If your Ender 3 looks similar to the one in the photo above, you need check your Z Offset and change it at the right height from the nozzle.
Increasing your Z Offset slightly until you see a small gap between the nozzle and the print bed is the way to go here. The recommended distance is 0.06 – 0.2mm so try seeing if the gap is somewhere around that range.
You can also lower the print bed instead of increasing the height of the nozzle. I’ve put together a whole guide called How to Level Your 3D Printer Bed, so do check that out for a step-by-step tutorial.
10. Reflash the Firmware
At long last, if you’ve tried many fixes but none have seemed to come to fruition, then reflashing your Ender 3 could be the solution that works.
As mentioned earlier, the Ender 3 failing to start or print can be caused by a firmware compatibility issue. This is another very common cause for the problem at hand and many people have reported this on forums online.
A lot of people have talked about experiencing this problem while installing BLTouch on their Ender 3 whose firmware didn’t match with the firmware of their 3D printer.
The cause here could be an error in the configuration files somewhere. In any case, reflashing the firmware is a fairly straightforward solution that can resolve this issue and make your Ender 3 start printing again.
If you have one of the newer Ender 3’s like the Ender 3 V2 with an upgraded motherboard, you can reflash the firmware directly with an SD card.
This can be easily done by downloading the relevant firmware such as the Ender 3 Pro Marlin Firmware from Creality, saving the .bin file onto your SD card’s main folder, inserting it inside the printer, and turning it on.
It’s important that you format the SD card to FAT32 first before uploading the firmware to it and make sure that it works fine.
This is the simple way to flash the firmware on a 3D printer, but if you have the original Ender 3 that doesn’t come with a 32-bit motherboard, you’ll have to take the longer route to flash your firmware.
Don’t worry though because I’ve already written a thorough guide on How to Flash 3D Printer Firmware that you can follow for a simple tutorial.
It involves using a dedicated software called Arduino IDE to upload the firmware to, troubleshoot it for errors, and then finally flash your Ender 3 with it.
The following is a highly descriptive video by Thomas Sanladerer that walks through the process of flashing the firmware on your Ender 3.
Bonus: Contact the Seller and Ask for a Replacement
If many of these fixes above such as reflashing the firmware hasn’t fixed your 3D printer, then it may come down to the last option of contacting the seller you bought your 3D printer from and requesting some help, a replacement, or a refund.
Usually, they’ll give you a number of solutions to try, which I probably have covered already, and ask you to go through these. If none of them work, they might replace the specific part which may be faulty on your 3D printer, or even give you a new printer as a replacement.
One user who bought their Ender 3 in a shop went back to the seller after not being able to fix the machine having this issue. The seller tried to solve the problem, but eventually replaced the Ender 3 with a new one for the user.
This is a cost-effective method of fixing the Ender 3 not starting problem, so it’s definitely worth a go if you just can’t fix the unit.
If you bought your Ender 3 online from Creality directly, the Service Request option on Creality’s website can help you get started with the replacement process.
Why is No Filament Coming From the Extruder – Ender 3
No filament may be coming from the extruder due to some kind of blockage in the filament pathway, including in the PTFE tube or the hotend where the temperatures get really high and melt the filament, causing an issue called heat creep. It could be your nozzle being too close to the print bed, or bad extruder tension.
As mentioned previously in the article, the reason for the Ender 3 not extruding could be that your nozzle is too close to the print bed. If that’s the case, not much, if any filament will come out of the 3D printer.
Confirming whether this is the issue or not is quite simple as all you need to do is adjust the thumbscrews on the four corners of your Ender 3 in the “Down” direction to lower the print bed.
As for the next probable cause of no filament coming from the Ender 3, one of your best bets is a clogged nozzle that’s blocked with leftover filament or an issue of heat creep.
You can refer back to the section above that talks about cleaning your nozzle, or check out my article about How to Fix Heat Creep in Your 3D Printer.
If you don’t maintain your 3D printer, these issues can occur at some point, especially if you haven’t upgraded any of your parts like the PTFE tube or plastic extruder.
Pieces of filament can get left behind over time, so you must keep your hot end nozzle in check occasionally.
Cleaning the nozzle properly with a needle or a proper cleaning kit works great, so I highly recommend getting straight to inspecting your nozzle for any clogs to fix your Ender 3’s extrusions.
The following descriptive video by MatterHackers is a great visual explanation of why no filament comes from the Ender 3 when it does and how you can fix the issue at hand.