When your gut feeling is telling you that something is not right, it probably isn’t and when your 3d printer is making the clicking noise it may be one of those times. But don’t let it spoil your print, with a simple adjustment this can be fixed and in this post I will show you exactly how to do it.
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What is the clicking noise on my 3d printer?
The clicking noise that you hear coming from your FDM 3d printer is the drive gear slipping on the filament. When pressure builds up on the tension spring, it slips making the popping or clicking sound. There are several reasons why the drive gear may be slipping and here you will find out how to prevent it.
Why does the drive gear slip?
The most common reason for drive gear to slip on the filament is the clog in the hot end nozzle. While clog is the most common reason for the drive gear to slip on the filament it is not the only reason. It may also include hot end nozzle temperature setting, type of filament material, extrusion multiplier, or the speed of the filament feed.
Clogged hot end nozzle.
Let’s look at the clog in the hot end nozzle. Suppose you printing with a flexible material that is stretchy and sticky. It is recommended that the retraction setting be disabled or set to a very minimum. Because when the sticky material is pulled back into the nozzle it will leave the sticky residue on the walls of the hot end nozzle that will eventually create a clog.
If you did use the flexible material don’t let it worry you as there are few things you can do to help prevent the clogs. First you can try a cold pull.
Clearing the clog
The hot end nozzle is somewhat an upside down cone shape and when material is dispensed, it is melted and pushed thru a tiny hole. What you can do is compress the spring on the drive gear idler or disconnect the bowden tube at the hot end and push the filament into the heated hot end.
See if any material comes out. Then, quickly pull the entire string of filament out of the hot end. You may notice at the tip of the filament where it was in the hot end residue of another filament. Next, use needle that was supplied with your 3d printer and push up the hot end nozzle thru the hole to clear any blockage.
Repeat this process until blockage is cleared.
If still unable to clear the clog. It may be time for a new hot end nozzle tip.
Good Practice Tip
When using sticky or flexible materials often there is a cleaning filament that you can buy and run it thru the printer to clean out the nozzle. It is designed specifically for this reason. The blend of filament when it melts will stick to any material more that it does to the metal nozzle.
Maybe you didn’t use flexible material and the hot end nozzle still clogged. This may happen when the 3d printer has been sitting in the preheat for too long with material in the nozzle.
Any filament is a type of plastic. When plastic is heated it melts. But overheating it may result in a change of properties within a materials that will prevent it from melting again.
To clear the clog the above step can be applied for this case as well.
It is a good practice to pull back the filament out of the hot end when preheating the printer. Use caution when working around the hot contents.
What to do when you hear clicking noise:
This may not be the wisest suggestion but it works. This is what I do for a temporary fix. If you can catch it early enough where your print isn’t ruined yet and but printed so much where abandoning the print is not an option.
Before trying the method I will describe below first identify that the material is coming out of the hot end nozzle. This will determine that the temperature is set correctly and hot end nozzle is not clogged.
Try compressing and releasing the spring at the drive gear idler that feed the filament to release the build up pressure first. Then, override the extruder speed setting on your printer.
From my personal experience lowering the extruder speed by 10% at the time makes it easier to calculate the extrusion multiplier in the slicer settings later. For example, if the speed of the extruder had to be reduces three times by 10% each time, then the total percent change is 30%.
Update the slicer profile for the filament that is being printed and reduce the extrusion multiplier by the number you calculated or 30% (from the above example).
Now you know what makes the clicking sound, where it is coming from and how to fix this problem. Hopefully my trial and errors will save you a whole lot of filament and a bunch of headache.
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