I’ve had trouble in the past trying to remove the PTFE tube from my hotend on my Ender 3, so I decided to look into proper techniques of how to do it on 3D printers. This article should point you in the right direction to finally solve this issue so keep reading through to get it done.
How Do You Remove the PTFE Tube from the Hotend & Extruder?
How to Remove the PTFE Tube from the Extruder
To remove the PTFE tube from your extruder, you should depress the circular plastic coupler to release the teeth that hold the tube in place, then pull out the PTFE tube. If you can’t pull it out, unscrew the whole fitting from the extruder, then apply more pressure to the coupler using tools and remove the tube.
The video below has a really useful tip on how to remove the PTFE tube from the extruder if it is hard to release.
It involves using a pair of channel locks to hold the main fitting that screws into the extruder, then use the frame of your 3D printer to depress the coupling, and take a second pair of pliers to remove the actual PTFE tube.
In some cases, the coupling may be broken if it can’t be removed so you’ll have to unscrew the whole fitting and get a new set. I’d recommend going with the Creality Capricorn Bowden PTFE Tube which comes with higher quality tubing and 2 sets of pneumatic fittings, along with a tube cutter.
This method should work for all types of 3D printers like the Ender 3 V2, Ender 5 Pro, Prusa Mini, and plenty more.
How to Remove the PTFE Tube From the Hotend
To remove the PTFE tube from your hotend, use the wrench that came with your 3D printer as a tool to apply downward pressure to the coupling, then manually pull out the PTFE tube with your hand.
This is a really useful technique that I gathered from the previous video above, which seems to work very well to remove the PTFE tube from your 3D printer’s hotend.
When Should You Replace the Bowden Tube? – Ender 3 & More
Bowden tubes only need to be replaced when they are damaged through burning at the ends or have been squeezed, usually by cutting it with a fairly blunt tool. You can usually cut the end of the Bowden PTFE tube if it is burnt. Many people have used the same Bowden tube for years without replacing it.
You want to cut the Bowden tube with a fairly sharp object, the best being a specialized PTFE Tube Cutter.
When you get a 3D printer like the Ender 3, they usually come with stock PTFE or Bowden tubes that don’t have the highest temperature, so they are more likely to be affected by high temperatures and an issue called heat creep, which is when heat travels where it isn’t supposed to.
Check out my article on heat creep called How to Fix Heat Creep in Your 3D Printer.
If you just 3D print with PLA, you shouldn’t have a problem with this, but if you use a filament like ABS or PETG which require higher temperatures, the PTFE tub can start to melt away gradually, resulting in printing issues down the line.
This can start to cause clogs or jams regularly if not taken care of.
How to Replace PTFE Tubing on a 3D Printer
To replace the PTFE tubing on your 3D printer, simply remove your own PTFE tube by depressing the couplers and pulling out the PTFE tube. Now get your new PTFE tube and cut it to the same length as the old tubing with a good, sharp cutter. Push the new PTFE tube inside each fitting, ensuring to press the coupler down.
The video in the article above shows the full process on how you can replace the PTFE tube on your 3D printer.
It’s recommended that when you are pushing the Bowden tube back into the hotend where the nozzle is, you should unscrew the nozzle half a turn, then push down on the tube all the way, and then tighten the nozzle back up.
This is done to make sure the connection is sitting tight against the back of the nozzle to stop clogging and under extrusion in the future.
How Do You Cut the PTFE Tube on a 3D Printer?
The best way to cut PTFE tubes is with a specialized tube cutter, that usually comes with your replacement Bowden PTFE tubing. It is sharp enough to not squeeze the tubing so much that it ruins the inner diameter of the tube.
Best PTFE Tube Upgrade for 3D Printers
The best PTFE Tube upgrade is Capricorn tubing since it has precise outer and inner diameters and has a high temperature resistance of 260°C . They are a lot more durable than standard PTFE tubing and gives users a smoother printing experience, especially with flexible filament.
It can even lead to higher quality 3D prints due to the smooth flow of filament through the extruder and hotend. There is less wiggle room inside the tubing which reduces potential errors.
It’s ideal for exotic filament as well like Polycarbonate and Nylon due to being able to work with higher temperatures.
You can get yourself the Creality Capricorn Bowden PTFE Tube to upgrade your 3D printer’s Bowden tubing.
Capricorn tubing is made from PTFE resin that is softer than standard PTFE. It is also heat and moisture-resistant, non-sticky, more flexible, and wear and corrosion-resistant.
How to Remove Filament Stuck in PTFE Tube
To remove filament stuck in the PTFE tube, you can either unscrew the fitting from the extruder or hotend, or remove the PTFE tube from the fitting then manually pull out the filament. You can also insert fresh filament and use that to push the stuck filament out the other end depending on where the filament is stuck.
It’s usually best to remove stuck filament from the extruder first since it’s easy to access and is where the main movement of filament goes through initially.
If the filament is stuck and cannot be pushed out so easily, depending on where it’s stuck, you can try taking apart the extruder and manually removing it.
Some people have tried submerging the tube in boiling water to soften the filament, then pushing it out with fresh filament or a thin wire.
I wrote an article called How To Stop Your Filament Breaking in the Extruder During a Print, so check that out if it’s something that happens to you regularly. Make sure your PTFE tube isn’t misaligned or you aren’t using low quality filament that has absorbed a lot of moisture.
If you have a direct drive extruder, it’s possible for filament to get stuck near the hotend, where it has the small tube before the heat break. You’d have to follow a similar process to remove it.
Take the PTFE tube out the heatsink then use an object like a narrow metal rod to push the filament out.
Another good technique is to heat up the nozzle and manually push filament through from the extruder side to that it extrudes from the nozzle, then pull out the filament from the other side.
When the nozzle is cold, the filament won’t be able to move very well, so ensuring you heat the nozzle is important for removing stuck filament in some cases. You can use a hot air gun in some cases to melt any excess filament that won’t come off the nozzle in the event of bad filament clogs.
How to Fix a Bowden Tube That Keeps Coming Out or Moving
Bowden extruders can build up a lot of pressure during the printing process, especially with the filament moving at relatively high speeds. It needs to be held in place properly with the fittings and couplers so it doesn’t pop out during the printing process.
This can happen more often if you have faulty couplers or if you have a really soft or slippery PTFE tubing.
To fix a Bowden tube that keeps coming out or moving, replace the faulty coupler with a higher quality coupler that holds the filament tighter and has a good set of teeth to grip it. You should also use a small clip to keep the coupler from pressing down and releasing. Upgrading to Capricorn PTFE could be useful.
It is a more durable and reliable Bowden tube for your 3D printer. If you can still manage to 3D print a quick model without the tube coming out, you can 3D print the Bowden Tube Clip yourself from Thingiverse.
I’d also try and check the width of your filament since anything about 1.75mm can get stuck in the tube and build up more pressure than usual. Some people have managed to hold the tube with a piece of tape and solved this issue, so that’s a possible fix you could try.
Make sure your retraction settings aren’t too high, mainly in terms of the retraction distance.
It’s possible that you haven’t screwed the fitting tight enough all the way into the extruder so double check that as well. You can try lowering the tension on your extruder by unscrewing the part that holds the spring a few turns.
If your Bowden tube is too short, this can definitely contribute to it popping out or moving too much.