We’ve all been there: A hotend that just
doesn’t seem to let any filament through. While there are a few different things that
could cause your printer to behave that way, a clogged nozzle is a likely cause and one
that you take care off easily. So today i’ll walk you through how to identify
a blocked nozzle and how you can easily fix it, often even without taking your 3D printer
apart at all. AprintaPro reached out to me for this sponsored
videos series to be featured on their PrintaGuide platform. Launching in January, it’ll be home to 3D
printing tips, tricks and guides. Check out AprintaPro and the PrintaGuide site
at the links in the video description below! A clogged or partially blocked nozzle is usually
fairly easy to make out: If your extruder motor is struggling to push material through
the hotend or you’re getting prints that are mostly air with only very little material
making its way down, then it’s a good idea to check the nozzle. While disengaging your extruder form the filament
by pushing the idler lever back, try and push filament through the heated hotend by hand. You might get an initial amount of material
making it through, but you’ll find that it’s either impossible to push or that the
extruded material curls heavily right after leaving the nozzle or extrudes much thinner
than what you might be used to. This can indicate a small particle stuck in
the nozzle bore, which we’ll need to get out. Somehow. One of the easiest, but also least reliable
ways is to grab a wire or an acupuncture or hypodermic needle that is small enough to
fit up the nozzle and try and get the blockage unstuck. Obviously, you’ll need a needle or wire
that is small enough to fit your nozzle bore, typically 0.4mm, and while some users recommend
using a drill bit instead, i’d actually say not to use one, since they are expensive,
break more easily than a solid needle, and worst of all, can permanently damage the nozzle
if you’re not super careful. So as a first try, preheat the nozzle to your
regular printing temperature and get cracking with that needle. Still being careful not to burn yourself,
your goal is not to extract the blockage, but only to break it up enough so that it
slips through the nozzle the next time you push filament through. You might have to go through the cycle a few
times of fiddling with the needle and pushing through a bit of filament by hand to check
if you’ve broken up the blockage enough. Another way that I personally prefer over
pushing needles up the hotend, is to use a cold pull – Ultimaker calls this the “Atomic
method”, which is similar in concept. A cold pull works best with slippery, soft
materials – so, Nylons, like Taulman’s Bridge filament. Again, heat up your hotend to the working
temperature of your Nylon or Polyamide filament, push it through the hotend as far as possible,
ideally, until your previous material is cleaned out, which obviously is going to be somewhat
hard if your nozzle is, like, completely stuffed, and then have the hotend cool down. Now, what i like to do after that is to set
the hotend to 110, 120°C and just keep on pulling on the filament while the hotend is
heating until the filament plops out in one piece. This should leave you with a perfect negative
shape of your hotend’s and nozzle’s bores and you will be able to see the contaminant
on the end of the filament. Then cut off the contaminated end, fully heat
the hotend again and repeat the process until the pulled end of your filament comes out
clean and you’ve restored good flow through the nozzle. Usually, two or three passes should be enough. Now, what Ultimaker recommends is actually
setting the hotend to a fixed temperature, 90° for PLA, 110° for ABS, waiting until
the hotend is at temperature and then yanking the filament out. This works fine for Ultimakers, but the keep
in mind that both ABS and PLA aren’t flexible enough to be pulled out cold from many other
hotend geometries, including the common E3D v6 setup. Nylon works fine for this. Now, if both of these methods don’t get
your nozzle unclogged, you can always go a step further and clean the nozzle outside
of the printer. Click up here to learn how to remove your
hotend’s nozzle safely, but if you’ve got the option to, do a cold pull first to
empty out as much material from the nozzle as possible. With the nozzle removed, you have the choice
of either removing the gunk mechanically or by using solvents. For mechanical cleanup, it’s the same idea
as with the nozzle installed – heat it up, e.g. with a hot air gun set to low, and then
carefully scrape out as much of the contaminant as possible using needles or other pointy
tools. When using hardened nozzles, be very careful
not to overheat those, as they will lose their hardening if you do. What also works for many materials is simply
burning out the nozzle with a blowtorch. However, if you’re unlucky, you might end
up with a nozzle that is completely FUBAR, so i’m not going to recommend this. But if you’re using ABS or PLA, you can
actually chemically dissolve most of the plastic remainder in the nozzle. For ABS, acetone or more aggressive solvents
work well, and PLA somewhat dissolves in ethyl acetate. So leave the nozzle in those for a few hours
and you should be able to much more easily clean out out the bore. If you can, go for a squeaky-clean look with
the bore completely freed up. Now, if these methods didn’t get your extruder
working perfectly again, you should also check the teflon liner inside the hotend if your
printer has one, and give the extruder a good staredown to see if it’s grinding through
filament because the hobbed gear is clogged up, dull or from the filament being kinked
and crooked inside the extruder. So now that you’re left with a functional
hotend, how do you prevent it from clogging up again? My printers have been running blockage-free
for many years now, and it’s just a few simple things:
First off, use decent filament. There’ve been reports of steel balls contained
within dirt cheap filament, and those, of course, are guaranteed to completely block
a nozzle in a heartbeat. Also, better filament is usually made in a
cleaner environment, which means it’s only going to contain components that will actually
melt in your printer’s hotend. The same goes for your 3D printer’s environment:
Keep it clean and dust-free. If your printer sucks in dust or other particles,
those can accumulate and easily clog the nozzle over time. If you’re uncertain about whether your workspace
is clean enough, you can simply use a bit of foam with a hole punched through to wipe
off any dust before it enters the printer – you’ll be surprised how much that actually
catches over time! And lastly, don’t cook your filament inside
the nozzle. If you leave the hotend heated up for an extended
period of time, chances are the filament is going to slowly decompose into an unextrudable
mess. So simply turn off the hotend when the printer
is idle. Some machines actually do this on their own. Alright, so i hope this video is helpful to
you. If you liked it, give it a thumbs up, consider
subscribing to the channel, and because Youtube is being sorta weird about it, remember to
also click that bell next to the subscribe button or you might end up missing some videos
altogether. Also check out the affiliate links from the
video description to shop on Amazon, eBay, Matterhackers and iGo3D, those don’t cost
you a single penny extra, or if you want to support this channel with a spare dollar or
two, head over to Patreon and get access to monthly Q&A hangouts and more. And that’s it for today, thanks for watching,
and I’ll see you in the next one.

100 thoughts on “Basics: Cleaning out a clogged nozzle!”

  1. i was struggling about using a blowtorch, then your vid made me remember that i have an heat gun…. dude u saved my day! ty!

  2. Can I make one suggestion to make these vids even better to watch? Please turn the bass down on your mixer. I know a lot of people like to run bass heavy as it adds a certain weight to the videos, but its so heavy here its actually slightly uncomfortable 🙁

  3. I live in Australia, I cant seem to find any Ethyl Acetate, anywhere. I also found it extremely hard to read from the video. Haha!

  4. 4:51
    F.U.B.A.R
    Rofl
    Your videos are really well crafted and I have learned a great deal from you Tom.
    I hope you keep making these videos and for bless you with tons of subscribers !
    I am DIY tinkerer as well.
    Would like to share some ideas with you !

    Ishan. T.

  5. Just ran into this kind of problem: Anet A8 nozzle ejecting very low material. It wasn't a coggled nozzle. Turns out the cog attached to the extruder motor loosed itself from the motor shaft, so the extruder wasn't able to pull the filament. It's worth a check, and it's a easy fix!!!

  6. Thank you for the guide! It assisted me with getting the Monoprice Maker Select V2 unclogged after attempting our first print with Wood PLA. I think we need to turn the heat down because I pulled out some burnt filament.

  7. I use guitar wire; The thinnest wire is stiff enough to push up into a blocked nozzle. I also feed it in through the bowden and use the ribbed section of the wire to catch hold of molten plastic blockage and pull it out as it cools then I pull or snip off the wire blob and start again. Works for me although I'll try your Stare Down Technique if I run out of strings.

  8. I used a welding flame to heat the nozzle. That evaporated and melted the material but did not damage the nozzle in any way. Other flames will work too. The melting temps of nozzles are high anyway.

  9. @Thomas, I would like to know if ethyl acetate would work to clean an the hotend from the Prusa multi material kit that have been totally cover with PLA upto the heat sinks

  10. If the filament is stuck in the ptfe and you cant get it out, try heating it up and push it through (you can just use a lighter and push with other filament)

  11. My nozzle is so blocked, no filament will go threw. I even tried to melt the stuff stuck in the middle with a hairdryer, still no luck and I’m kinda screwed.

  12. That worked for me. Oddly before the blockage, the filament looked like it was liquefied and bubbling at the tip when I pushed it through. Anyhow, clear nozzle and printing now.

  13. Thanks Thomas! I was losing my mind with constant under-extrusion and adhesion problems. I had tried the needle method to no avail. Your cold-pull method fixed everything. Two cycles, and printing like new.

  14. please can you let me know what nozzle I can purchase that fits the creality cr10 I'm struggling to find where to purchase them from

  15. Stare down! X¬D
    But I can honestly say that I must have a perfect system, because in all the (approx) 34 days that I've been 3D printing, I've never had a nozzle get blocked! :¬P

  16. What about putting the nozzle into an ultrasonic cleaner? Would that cause damage on the internal tubing? What cleaning agent in the water ?

  17. First thank you for all the GREAT videos you have done. Absolutely wonderful. I have looked thru your videos and I can't find one on properly changing the filament. That is the one thing I am having some problems with. I have an Anet A6 and have a Tevo Torn. on the way 🙂 I have been printing PLA at 210. Should I let the hot end cool down to a certain temp before pulling the filament out? I have had multiple times where the filament left some string in the top end of the feed tube and then I could not push it back down after reheating the extruder and had to dissasemble to push it out. So any info you can provide or a link to a good video would be appreciated.

  18. Just to make sure I stared down my nozzle for six hours straight, but it won´t work for me. Haha, just kidding, loved this one! Cheers! Maybe the 15€ spools of filament are crap or my particular chinese nozzle/hotend is. Now I will buy more expensive PLA filament to check your theory out. Thanks for your great videos, subscribed!

  19. If heating with a heat gun, a stand of copper wire is soft enough to not damaged the nozzle and small enough to work through. I'm picking pieces off 14AWG stranded.

  20. 5:47 Enclosed airbubbles can be totally indistinguishable from steelballs, and I've seen this reported only once. So I'm not sure if this shouldn't be shelved into the myth section.

  21. I usually put the nozzle in my stove open flame for some minutes. PLA will turn into black dust and auto unclog. Very efficient. Don't know if works with other types of filament.

  22. Standard nozzles are so cheap I usually just don't even bother cleaning it if a quick attempt fails, just replace it.

  23. yeah was looking all over for someone to explain the print becoming qriggly just after exiting nozzle, this is the first guy i found mentioning this. and only as a list of things what could be wrong. gonna check if it is some particle in it that is not supposed to be there now.

  24. I used toothpick on my A8, goes right thru of heated up extruder and squeezes out all the filament thats stuck.
    Heat up to 200 or something, quickly pull out filament and put the toothpick in. Of course you have to remove the fan to access the hole after the gears where filament goes in.

  25. I had what seemed to be a clog nozzle that turned out to be caused by a fractured solder joint on the small pbc in the extruder head assembly of my FlashForge Finder. The fracture caused a resistance that lowered the current to the heater, which varied the wattage. The LCD does not show the temperature status once the print starts, so you have no idea the temp has dropped the melting point needed to push the filament out the nozzle. Thanks for the quality videos and content.

  26. Goodday Mr. Sanladerer,
    I am new into 3D printers, i just got Tronxy few days ago.
    I have discovered when i excute print button in Repetier-Host, i have discovered that the Bowden extruder feeds reverse, and at the same time the nozzle and hotend drops in temperature so the filament i pushed trough has clogged.
    What is wrong? can you help me out of this mess?

  27. Hi, Thomas and all who see this comment! 🙂
    This video is still very actual as I see 🙂 If I'm not sure that the nozzle is (self-)cleaned well then should I try a cold method?
    I've calibrated the extruder (actually that was about 0.5-1.0 over-extrusion so it doesn't seem to be a role player) but some layers still has under-extruded quality.
    Probably I'll try to revert to the stock firmware (without S-Curve… basically it's nothing more there left from the last time I've changed something) and print something that will use a lot of retracts (and set it to 6.0 as recommended for Volcano).
    My next guess is that I have a heat creep… But it's all of a sudden practically (or I've didn't noticed some signs before…). This can only mean that this Volcano (in Tevo's printer) is fake.
    Another guess is that I need to print this PLA with 215-220C (currently is 210) because it wasn't even extruding from the nozzle on 200! Seems like it was underheated. But then I need to drop speed to 35-40 or it will not be cooled down as fast as needed. Or to print and make the Petsfang assembly (with a better fan). Don't want to do this yet (need to investigate better).

  28. Hey I'm new to 3D Printing. I got my XYZPrinting Davinci 1.1 Plus for free from a friend(it had some problems and I'm good at Computer so I gave it a try and fixed most of the issues). Now I've seen that on the Nozzle is a black layer of something, it looks burned, how can I clean this?

  29. Thanks for explaining the atomic method.
    Not sure I have a blocked nozzle, but at certain points on my first layer brim, the sudden direction change makes my nozzle pull the filament it just laid back up and wrap itself all round the nozzle. It's always the same direction. I put a lighter to the nozzle and it is adhering now after many many print attempts and too much money spent on the swear jar.
    I'm using the Geetech Superplate which has been great for the first week, but it's refusing to stick at all sometimes on certain patches and it's like the nozzle just wants to drag the filament along.

  30. When I got a clogged nozzle, I told myself not to worry; just go rewatch Tom's video on clogged nozzles. 10 minutes later and it's all ready to go.

  31. I have a DEEP FAT FRYER in my kitchen. I drop the brass nozzle in that when it clogs.
    Softens the plastic AND seasons the brass at the same time.
    PROBLEM SOLVED!

  32. As folks mentioned previously, a non-wound guitar string works well in place of a needle. A guitar string size 013 (.013") = .330mm, fits a .4mm nozzle well without been too flexible.

  33. Tom, love all your videos. I found stuff call FLOSS filament that cleans your bowben tube and nozzle. I am not sure how I got a cloged nozzle so quickly. Maybe I am just trying to push PETG through my nozzle to quickly. I was trying 100mm/s at .3 layer height. This worked for a couple of decent sized prints. The first symptom was that my first layer was not sticking. My first layer sticks all the time. Then my Titant bowben extruder wouldn't push the filament through the hotend. Previously I had the filament break off. And shortly after I replaced the Bowden Tube. All the above happened. But I still love my Tevo Tornado.

  34. Thanks. I was about to open up my heat sink, but then I found the pin that came with my Ender. Your suggestion did the trick. Testing now (:

  35. I have a spare Chinesium heatblock and 24V heat cartridge clamped in a small vice to attach nozzles to for maintenance, run off an old laptop charger that output 19V. It doesn't stop heating at any particular temperature but I could devote an Arduino with a PID sketch to the cause some time.

  36. Can someone please please please please tel me why my anet a8 keeps clogging mid print? I’ve tried everything. Just today I paused my print because it started clicking. I tried pushing the filament through and it had ALOT of resistance. Would barely come out. I had to apply a lot of pressure to get it back to good again and then continued the print job. I’m thinking it’s the firmware. Ideas?

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