Of all the different components of your 3D Printer, both the nozzle and hot end are some of the most exposed, and so it is understandable that these pieces might require the most maintenance.
Primarily this maintenance consists of cleaning, and as long as you do this regularly, both your nozzle and hot end should last for years to come.
It is also very important that you regularly clean both the nozzle and the hot end if you do not want the quality of your printings to be disturbed.
But cleaning your 3D Printer Nozzle can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t know where to start.
The best way to clean your 3D Printing Nozzle is to remove the nozzle and clean off the stuck filament with brass wire or cleaning filament.
But if you don’t know where to begin, this can seem intimidating.
In this guide, we’re telling you how to clean your Nozzle and giving suggestions of some of the best products to use to do this. So let’s get started.
Symptoms of a Clogged Printer Nozzle
Before we take a look at how to clean your 3D Printer Nozzle, let’s take a quick look at some of the key symptoms that your nozzle is clogged.
These symptoms are very obvious, and extremely hard to miss, so if you experience any of these, the chances are that it is caused by a clogged nozzle.
These key symptoms are:
- Motor Thumping - the extruder of the printer is connected to a motor which provides it with the energy to operate. If the nozzle is clogged, you might observe the extruder motor jumping backward as it is unable to keep up with the other components of the printer.
- Scraping Sound - if you observe a strange sound then this might be caused by the extruder grinding due to the clogged nozzle blocking it from operating like normal.
- More Dust - you might also begin to notice more dust around the extruder and its motor than normal which is a clear sign that you need to clean the nozzle.
- Extrusion Problems - the first layer of your printing might begin to appear bumpy and uneven if your printer nozzle needs cleaning.
- Feed Rate needs Adjusting A LOT - if you find yourself having to adjust the flow settings or feed rate more than often then this could be an early sign of your printer nozzle clogging.
- Other Symptoms - include uneven or rough printing, blobs in your printing, and poor adhesion between the layers.
Cleaning the Inside of your Nozzle
While there are a few different options for cleaning your nozzle, they all boil down to heating up the nozzle and manually scraping and pushing the filament that has sealed on the nozzle.
In most cases, you will use a nozzle cleaning kit to do this such as the MIKA3D cleaning kit which is one of the best-rated options available.
By heating the nozzle, you will also be heating the filament that is coating it and causing it to clog. Once heated, a good needle is excellent for removing this filament.
It is also great for removing any dirt or dust that has also clogged the nozzle. High temperatures will loosen these materials and make them easier to push through the nozzle, making cleaning the inside an easy task.
Cleaning the Outside of your Nozzle
But what about cleaning the outside of your nozzle? This is a fairly easy task also, so let’s take a look at what you need to do.
There are 3 primary methods of cleaning the outside of your nozzle which you can follow, which is great as if one proves ineffective you can simply move onto the next.
The first method we would recommend trying is best suited if the outside of your nozzle isn’t very dirty or clogged.
To do this, you should take a napkin or a paper towel and wipe the outside of the nozzle when it begins to cool down. In most cases, this will sufficiently clean the nozzle and get it looking like new.
If this fails, you can instead heat the nozzle to approximately 200 degrees celsius. This is very effective if the residue on your nozzle is particularly stubborn, and would not shift with the last method.
Once the nozzle has heated up, you should then take your needle nose pliers and begin to pull the residue off of the nozzle. Due to the heat, the residue should simply lift away, leaving you with a clean nozzle that will operate perfectly again.
Finally, you might choose to use a cleaning brush that is specifically designed for 3D printer nozzles. These are extremely effective and guaranteed to provide results if your nozzle is particularly dirty or clogged.
These brushes are made with copper wire which is extremely effective at removing residue and dirt. There are lots of great options on the market, including this one by Forney.
For the best results using this method, you need to heat the nozzle as you would with the last method.
Once it is heated you can then scrub the exterior of the nozzle with the brush, and the residue should simply wipe away, leaving your nozzle looking like new.
The Top 3 Best Printer Cleaning Filament Products
Now let’s take a look at some of the best cleaning filament products on the market. This filament simply cleans your nozzle through heat.
All you need to do is install the cleaning filament where you would normally install printing filament, then operate your printer as normal to get your nozzle looking like new.
To help you out, we’ve put together these top three for you to choose from.
In this product, you get 2 x 20g of cleaning filament which comes with a self-adaptive control system.
It comes with no odor and guarantees no bubbling or stringing when using this product.
So it is clear to see why this is one of the best options on the market if you need to clean your printer nozzle.
This product includes 0.1kg of cleaning filament which is guaranteed to get the nozzles and extruders of your 3D printer as clean as new.
For best results, you should use this filament regularly to prevent your nozzle from becoming clogged.
It adheres to stray material that you might have missed and ensures that the cleanliness of your nozzle will not impact the results of your printing.
Finally, this is another great option. This product comes with 1kg of cleaning filament which has strict tolerances, ensuring that it will remove any stray material from your nozzle and prevent it from clogging.
For best results, this filament should be used with a heated nozzle to remove residue and get your nozzle looking fresh.
Cleaning PLA or ABS Off of your Hot End
You may also find yourself having to clean PLA or ABS off of your nozzle, so let’s take a look at how you should go about doing this.
To clean ABS off of your nozzle, you should first get the hot end of your printer to approximately 240 degrees Celsius. You should then apply the failed ABS print and then leave the hot end to cool slightly.
Once it has cooled, you can then simply pull the ABS print away from the hot end, and this will also remove all of the residues that were left on the hot end.
If your hot end is instead covered with PLA, you should instead begin by heating the hot end to 70 degrees Celsius.
Once it reaches this temperature, you should take a pair of tweezers or pliers and begin to pull the PLA residue away from the hot end. PLA gets extremely soft when heated, so you should easily be able to remove all of the PLA from your hot end by using this method.
Cleaning Your Ender 3 Nozzle
One of the most popular 3D Printers is the Creality Ender 3, so let’s take a look at how you would go about cleaning the nozzle of this type of printer. There are two options that you can choose from when cleaning your Ender 3 Nozzle.
The first method requires you to remove the nozzle from the printer. Once you have done this you can then clean the nozzle by heating it to a very high temperature using a hot gun. This will soften the residue to a point where you can add cleaning filament.
You should leave this inside of the nozzle for a little while and then do a cold pull to remove any residue. You should repeat this process until the cleaning filament begins to pull away clean.
Alternatively, you can open up the shroud of the printer and remove it so that you can get a clear view of the nozzle. Once you can see the nozzle in detail you can then begin to remove residue using an acupuncture needle or cleaning needle.
This will help break down the residue to a consistency where you can use a cleaning filament to gather the broken down residue and leave your nozzle like new.
When to Clean your Nozzle
Now that you know exactly how to clean the inside and the outside of your nozzle, let’s take a look at how often you should clean your nozzle.
The most obvious time that you should clean your nozzle is when it becomes dirty and clogged as this will prevent your printer from operating properly.
However, if you clean your nozzle more regularly than this then it is easy to prevent it from getting to a point where it interferes with the quality of your print.
To ensure that no damage occurs to your printer, we recommend cleaning the nozzle at least once every 3 months. Especially if you use your printer regularly.
You can leave long periods between cleaning the nozzle, however, this is likely to impact the durability of your printer’s nozzle and could limit the lifespan of this component.
If you ask anyone who owns a 3D printer, ‘how often do you clean your nozzle?’, the answer is probably ‘not that often!’. It is very common for people to not clean their printer nozzle, and even not realize that this is an important part of printer maintenance.
Some makes and models of 3D printers are more prone to clogging than others, and this is mainly caused by the types of materials that you are printing, how often you use the printer, and the material which the printer nozzle is constructed of.
So depending on these factors, your nozzle might require cleaning more often than another type of printer.
As we have said, you do not have to clean your printer’s nozzle every 3 months, and in a lot of cases, your printer will not require this. But getting into a pattern of cleaning your nozzle is great for ensuring the lifespan and durability of your printer.
Cleaning the nozzle can appear to be a daunting task, but when you have spent a lot of money on a 3D printer, it is an easy thing to do to ensure that your printer lasts for years to come.
In short, cleaning your 3D printer nozzle is incredibly easy, so even though it can appear to be a daunting task, there is no need to delay doing it.
In this guide, we’ve given you all the information you need to know about cleaning your 3D printer’s nozzle and hot end to get it operating like new once again.