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3D Printer Nozzle Cleaning – The Easiest Way to Do It

Picture of Marko Perić
by Marko Perić
Jun 28, 2018

The nozzle is the last thing that comes in contact with your 3D printed part. With such an important role, it's important to keep it maintained, ensuring the quality of your 3D prints. Here we show you a few methods to do just that.

Prevention

A dedicated hotend
A dedicated hotend Source: IZIT d.o.o.

Before you even have encounter a clogged nozzle, you can be smart and use one of the following preventative methods:

  • It’s recommended, especially by manufacturers, to use different nozzles and heating block assemblies for different materials, in particular exotic materials. This is a good idea because some materials have different properties and react differently to changes in temperature, especially materials that mimic rubber.
  • When changing material, make sure to do so when the print head is hot to prevent material from cooling.
  • Don’t push the material by force into the print head when loading new material. This prevents material buildup inside the print head.

Identifying the Problem

The Zortrax M200 Plus print head
The Zortrax M200 Plus print head Source: IZIT d.o.o.

Before cleaning the nozzle, you should first determine that the problem is actually in the nozzle. Sometimes material can break at the entrance to the print head because of the gear that pushes it. Another problem might be that the heating block is faulty, and therefore isn’t heating properly.

Proper Nozzle Maintenance

Brushing the nozzle
Brushing the nozzle Source: IZIT d.o.o.

To prevent nozzle malfunction and blockage, first you need to make sure that the tip of the nozzle and the area around the heating block is clean. The simplest way to ensure this is to brush the nozzle and the area around it with a wire brush, as shown in the picture.

Use a linear motion and make sure to approach from multiple directions. It’s important to use a wire brush and not regular brush because it has more friction and thus can easily remove burnt material from metal nozzles and heating block surfaces.

Just be careful to check that you can use a metal brush with your nozzle, as some will be damaged.

Solving Nozzle Blockage with a Needle

Cleaning the nozzle
Cleaning the nozzle Source: Thomas Sanladerer / YouTube

The most common problem that can occur is that cold material stays glued to the inner surfaces of the nozzle, thus preventing additional material from extruding. The first thing you should do is heat the extruder and the nozzle to soften the clogged material, then push it out with a needle.

This process, along with many others is explained in our 3D printing troubleshooting guide. Additionally, you can try manually heating the nozzle with a hot air gun.

When All Else Fails

A nozzle in acetone
A nozzle in acetone Source: IZIT d.o.o.

If your nozzle is still clogged after trying the above procedures, there is one more thing you can do. That is, assuming you’ve been printing with ABS. Remove the nozzle from the print head, put it in acetone and leave it there for a few hours. The acetone will melt the material in the nozzle and enable it to be cleared with a needle.

These procedures are simple and effective and if you do them correctly, you should be able to continue 3D printing in no time.

License: The text of "3D Printer Nozzle Cleaning – The Easiest Way to Do It" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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