How To Clean 3D Printer Nozzle (5 Easy Methods)

Last Updated on June 13, 2022 by ronnie

3D printers are modern tools that produce three-dimensional objects by printing them layer-by-layer. The nozzle is part of the printer that melts filament and uses it to create 3d objects, and it is necessary to keep it clean to print with efficiency. Furthermore, the nozzle can be clogged, or melted filament can block the nozzle.

The simplest and the first step to clean the 3D printer nozzle is to use a damp cloth and clean the nozzle just after you use it and it is still hot. You may observe some steam coming out of the hot nozzle as it touches the damp cloth, but it doesn’t harm the nozzle. Instead, it helps to remove any leftover material from the nozzle.

If you feel that this method hasn’t cleaned the nozzle, use a wire brush or blade to scrape the nozzle to remove any debris from it.

But let us tell you about the whole cleaning process, and it is important in this article. So let’s start.

How-To-Clean-3D-Printer-Nozzles

Why is cleaning the nozzle important?

Cleaning the nozzle can boost the efficiency of your 3d printer as it lowers the risk of heat loss, and filament can smoothly pass from the nozzle and create the object with precision. When you use your printer, it will get clogged after some use, so it is best to clean it after each use and apply techniques to avoid clogging.

There are different ways to clean a 3d printer nozzle, and you can use them depending on the condition of the nozzle. In this guide, you will learn how to clean 3D printer nozzles, what causes clogging, how you can prevent it, and ways to clean your 3D printer nozzle or unclog it.

How to identify if the nozzle is clogged?

Before you start fixing the nozzle issues and cleaning process, you must identify if the actual problem is the nozzle or not. Maybe some other part of the printer is creating the issue. So before you start cleaning, identification is important.

Now the question is, how would you identify if the nozzle is the problem.

The following problems may arise during your printing process if your nozzle is dirty and requires cleaning.

No extruded filament on the first layer

The very first issue that arises because of the dirty nozzle is no extruded filament as the first layer. It may be because of a clogged nozzle when no filament is coming out, and the first layer is not forming. But also ensure that the extruder and the bed are leveled, and the issue is only because of the nozzle.

Nozzle scrapes the printed filament back.

You might observe that the nozzle picks up the printed substance back when it moves.

It only happens because of the dirty nozzle, provided that the z offset settings are working well.

Missprinting

If your printer shows a “completed” message and the item is undone or has some missing layers, it is a reason for a clogged/dirty nozzle. But you need to see if the filament diameter was proper or if the extrusion was going smooth.

Closure of hot end

If the hot end jams or stops working, the filament is stuck somewhere and not moving forward towards the nozzle. 

The nozzle is also a part of the hot end, so it could also be the reason for the jam. Before you make the final judgment, check the hot end path as if it is not the main reason for inconsistent extrusion.

 Once you identify the problem in the nozzle, the next step is to know the reason behind the nozzle’s dirt/debris or clogging.

There are different ways to clean a 3d printer, and you can use them depending on the condition of the nozzle. In this guide, you will learn how to clean 3D printer nozzles, what causes clogging, how you can prevent it, and ways to clean your 3D printer nozzle or unclog it.

Causes Of Nozzle Cloggings the nozzle.

Clogging of the nozzle can be frustrating as it doesn’t allow the melted filament to pass through, and your nozzle is just moving around in the air without printing anything. It is caused by material residues left in the nozzle because of the low temperature of hot ends. It can put your work behind a lot and clean your nozzle to get a smooth printing.

There are more than one reasons your 3d printer gets clogged, but mostly, it is due to filaments that contain coarser particles, and it is because of these particles’ ability to stick faster and easily. The heated filaments stick to the nozzle end and block it, and here are the reasons your nozzle can be blocked:

Incorrect Nozzle Height

Wrong nozzle height is one reason your nozzle gets clogged, and it is dangerous as your 3d printer may print misshapen or defective objects. It is essential to set the nozzle height, especially the Z-axis, as it helps in printing fine objects. If the nozzle is set too high, the filament will cool down too fast as it has to travel more before printing objects, causing clogging.

Similarly, if the nozzle is set too low, it can give less space to print objects and entirely clog the nozzle while it tries to print. The melted filament can even be pushed back to the nozzle if there is less space and clog the nozzle.

It is important to set the correct nozzle height to avoid nozzle clogging and print the perfect shaped object. The height should be smaller or the same as the diameter of the printer nozzle to avoid clogging, and it is best to keep it smaller than the diameter of the printer nozzle.

Wrong Temperature Settings

Setting the incorrect temperature can clog your 3d printer nozzle and even push back some heat and make thermoplastic. Your filaments must get melted perfectly to print well-shaped objects. PLA filament’s ideal temperature is 180 degrees, while ABS is best used at 230 degrees, and Nylon is relatively higher than ABS.

If the filament temperature is set low, it will liquefy inside the nozzle, causing clogging, and if the temperature is set too high, it will cause “heat creep.” The filament is heated so much that it turns liquid before being fed to the nozzle, and as liquid filament requires high pressure, it gets stuck in the nozzle, causing clogging.

It is essential to clean the nozzle when changing the filaments as you should set the right temperature for only that material to melt perfectly or cause clogging.

Low-Quality Filaments

Low-quality filaments are also one reason your nozzle can get clogged, as they may contain impurities with high or low melting points. Cheap filaments may be low in cost, but they don’t have an even diameter, and while heating, low diameter melts faster than high diameter tolerates, which causes clogging.

Before buying filaments, you should make sure they are even and contain only one material as melting the even and pure filament is easy and doesn’t clog the nozzle.

Dust And Dirt

Dust, dirt, and other residuals enter into the printer bed through the filaments, and when heated, the particles cling together, and a stubborn layer is formed, which blocks the nozzle. However, you cannot completely block the other particles from entering, but you can keep their ratio as low as possible.

Store your filaments in a clean, dry, and safe place, and make sure no spray enters your 3d printer as when heated, it can clog your nozzle.

Preventing The Nozzle Clogging

You can prevent the clogging by knowing its cause and preventing it, and several other ways can help you maintain a clean nozzle. Follow these simple solutions to avoid nozzle clogging:

  • As each material has different physical and chemical properties, so it may react differently to temperature changes, you should use filament made of the same materials and the one with no impurities.
  • When you change the material, make sure that the print head is hot to prevent the filament from cooling down. And when changing the type of material, you should thoroughly clean the nozzle from any leftovers to avoid clogging.
  • When loading new material, never push it hard into the print head as it prevents material build-up and keeps the print head clean.

5 Steps About How To Clean 3D Printer Nozzle

Cleaning 3D Printer Nozzle

You now know the causes of clogging and how to prevent it, but sometimes it becomes inevitable, and your 3d printer nozzle. No worries, depending on your discretion, you can use several ways to clean 3d printer nozzle.

If you use these methods correctly, they will not damage the nozzle; instead, they help clean and make the nozzle print precisely. When cleaning, you need to make sure your nozzle is partially or fully clogged, and remember that nozzle can be pretty hot, so tend to it with care.

Here are ways you can clean a partially clogged nozzle and clean your nozzle while not damaging it.

1.    Using Cleaning Filament

Cleaning filaments are explicitly made for cleaning the 3d printer nozzle and are used in print passages to clean the nozzle when inserted. Dust, dirt, and other residues adhere to the cleaning filament and are removed with the print.

However, this method is used to clean a partially clogged nozzle and requires partial pressure flow to clean it thoroughly. These cleaning filaments may be expensive, but it takes a small amount per cycle. You can use this method to clean your nozzle regularly whenever you use it to avoid clogging, as when fully clogged, even the best methods can’t clean it.

2.    Pushing Filament Through

When printing the objects, some unwanted filaments get left in the nozzle and don’t entirely clog the machine, but they can clog the nozzle when left for a longer time. With this method, you can clean the nozzle using white Nylon or ABS instead of cleaning filament.

Follow these simple steps to clean your nozzle by pushing white filament through:

  1. Heat the nozzle up to 200 degrees to melt the filament or any material clogging the nozzle.
  2. Remove the filament or any residuals from the hot end.
  3. Nozzle becomes hot, so it carefully cleans the outside of the nozzle with a paper towel.
  4. Manually push the white filament into the nozzle until you can see it on the other end or as far it can go.
  5. Pull the filament out and cut off the dirty part of the filament.
  6. Repeat the 4 and 5 steps until you are satisfied that the nozzle is unclogged.

These were two methods to clean the partially clogged nozzle, but if your nozzle doesn’t get cleaned as you wanted, you can try these methods.

3.    Needles

This method is used to manually clean the nozzle from any residuals like dirt, dust, or pieces of filaments. First, you have to set the temperature of the 3d printer that is endured by printing bed and then insert a needle or any other fine and point object into the nozzle and move it with care to remove the dirt or any residuals.

When you pull the needle, the loosened contaminants are extruded with it cleaning the inside of the nozzle. Some manufacturers provide cleaning kits that contain needles and other point objects that cleans the nozzle without damaging it.

You should be very careful while cleaning with a needle as it can leave irreparable damage that may cost you to purchase a new nozzle.

4.    Acetone

If you use easily soluble filaments, you can use a chemical approach to clean your nozzle. You will need acetone and fill a small container enough to dip the nozzle completely. Remove the printer nozzle and put it in concentrated acetone, and cover it.

Keep the nozzle inside the acetone for a day and change its position to ensure that each part of the nozzle gets cleaned. Remove the dirt by using a needle in between and place it again into acetone and do it repeatedly.

This will help your nozzle to get clean without having the risk of damaging it and unclog it. Be sure to use fully concentrated acetone or diluted one that can damage the nozzle.

5.    Cold Pulling Method

If all else fails, you can use this method to clean or remove the heavy blockage or hardened deposits. It uses high temperature to pull out any residuals in the nozzle and unclog it. Heat your printer to 250 degrees and use ABS and Nylon as they have high melting points, so you can push them into the hot end to remove unwanted materials.

A temperature of 250+ degrees can melt any stuck or clogged materials, and when applied pressure from Nylon or ABS, those melted materials are pushed out from the nozzle. Then cool down the printer temperature to 100-120 degrees and jerk it to pull the materials. Because of this jerking, this method is known as the cold pulling method.

Finally, it will clean your printer nozzle. If it’s still clogged even after increasing the temperature, you may need to buy a new nozzle cause using incineration can damage the nozzle.

Conclusion

If you don’t know how to clean a 3D printer nozzle, you will be dependent on others for this little task. So this guide can help you to learn how to clean a 3D printer nozzle from scratch.

If you follow the step and procedure and clean your nozzle weekly, it will not get clogged, and if it’s getting clogged or you feel that your machine is not performing like before, you should clean it as most probably it is partially clogged. If all else fails, you can just buy a new nozzle, and you also know how to prevent clogging; follow prevention methods to ensure perfect printing.

How can you tell if the nozzle is clogged?

If the melted filament is hard to push through and doesn’t come through fully from the nozzle, the nozzle is clogged. It is best to clean it before using it, as using it will only worsen the clogging, and you may need to change the whole nozzle.

Can you use atomic pull to clean 3d printer nozzle?

It depends upon your nozzle as most nozzle shapes get distorted, which is worse than clogging, and the nozzle becomes useless. It is best to use a method that doesn’t damage the nozzle. If your nozzle is made to sustain atomic pull, it is the best method to clean it.

How often should we clean the 3d printer nozzle?

You should keep the filaments in a clean and dry place and weekly clean the printer bed. You should clean the nozzle by the above methods once a month even if it’s working fine to ensure its efficiency.

How often should you clean the nozzle of a 3D printer?

You must clean your 3d printer nozzle as soon as it gets dirty. Also, for preventive maintenance, cleaning after two months is fine.

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