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3d Printing Troubleshooting Guide- Frequent problems with FDM prints

3d Printing Troubleshooting Guide- Frequent problems with FDM prints

Frequent problems with FDM prints

Nothing is printing - Out of Filament

What’s the problem?

Although the model has been set and configured correctly in the slicing software, nothing is printing. No filament is being extruded, or only small portions are coming out.

Why is it happening?

Many printers do not have visible filament housing or built-in sensors, making it difficult to determine when you will run out of 3d solutech flexible filament. This can be particularly distressing if it happens mid-print.

Troubleshooting - Check the Filament Reel

Look at the filament reel and see if there is any filament left. If not, extrude or manually remove any remaining filament in the nozzle and replace the filament reel.

Nozzle too close to print bed

What’s the problem?

After calibration, the nozzle is not depositing any filament on the print bed.

Why is it happening?

This issue often occurs when the nozzle is too close to the print bed. It is possible that the bed is only just too close to the nozzle, but this can cause serious issues ranging from a foundationless print or backed-up filament in the nozzle.

Z-Axis Offset - Troubleshooting

Raising the height of the nozzle slightly can often address this problem. In your printer’s settings, you should be able to set a Z-axis offset. Raising the nozzle away from the print bed requires that you increase the offset by a positive value.

Be careful not to set the offset too high as it will not stick to the platform.

Lower the Print Bed

You can also lower the print bed to deal with this, but it is often more cumbersome and requires extra calibration.

Blocked Nozzle

What’s the problem?

You initiate a print job, but nothing comes out of the nozzle, even after extracting and reinserting filament.

Why is it happening?

You may experience a blocked nozzle if a small piece of filament has been melted but not extruded properly, causing it to stick to the interior of the nozzle and block new filament.

Maintenance is the best way to prevent a blocked nozzle. Regularly cleaning the nozzle, using a filter, and ensuring that you are using the manufacturer’s recommended temperatures are the best methods for pre-empting any blockage issues.

Manually unblocking a clogged nozzle can be somewhat dangerous for your printer, so it should be done carefully.


 Unblock with a needle or other thin, stiff piece of metal

Begin by removing the filament. If your printer has a control panel, select the “heat nozzle” setting and increase the temperature to the melting point of the stuck filament. Alternatively, hook your printer up to a computer running compatible control software and heat the nozzle using the software. For PLA, set the temperature to 220 ℃. Once the nozzle reaches the correct temperature, use a small pin to carefully clear the hole. 

Push Old Filament Through

If the nozzle is still blocked, then you may be able to push the filament through with another piece of filament. Begin by removing the filament, then remove the feeder tube from the print head. Heat up the hot end to 220 ℃ and use another piece of filament to push the stuck filament through the nozzle. Pushing too hard may damage the printing rods, so be careful.

Dismantle and Rebuild the Hot end

If the nozzle remains blocked after trying the previous steps, you will have to dismantle the hot end. If you have not disassembled this piece before, take notes and photos so you know where everything goes when it is time to reassemble. Remove any filament that you can and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for dismantling the hot end.

 Atomic Pull Method

Either ABS or Nylon can be used, but Nylon tends to work better because of its higher melting point. However, ABS is more common, so the steps below are written for ABS.

  1. Remove the filament in the print head. Then, remove the Bowden tube or release the direct drive so you can manually feed the filament.
  2. Increase the nozzle temperature to 240 ℃. Leave it at this temperature for 5 minutes before doing anything else.
  3. Slowly apply pressure to the filament until it begins to come out of the nozzle. Pull it back slightly and push it back through again until it starts to flow from the nozzle.
  4. Reduce the temperature to around 180 ℃ for ABS (experiment to find the exact temperature). Leave the printer at this temperature for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove the filament from the head. The end should have black carbonized material. Repeat this process until it is clean. If you cannot pull the filament out of the nozzle, increase the temperature slightly and try again.
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Print Head Misses the Bed

What’s the problem?

If the print head is missing the bed, it will usually have reached the limit of the X or Y axis. A print head trying to move beyond this point can produce to a loud noise and will not print on the bed.

Why is it happening?

This often occurs as a result of misconfiguration, incorrect printer selection, or worn out end stops.


Check Slicer for Correct Printer

Check that the correct printer is selected in your printing software. All 3d printer models require specific settings, so even if the print bed of two printers are the same, other dimensions and settings are unlikely to match.

Update Firmware

If your printer is relatively new, ensure that the latest version of the firmware installed. Once it is updated, run the setup, and check all settings to ensure that the size of the print area is accurate.

Check End Stops

If all of the settings, firmware, and software have been checked, this issue is likely due to something physical. Watch the print head move. If it tries to continue beyond the end of an axis, check the end stop to ensure that it is connected.

If the issue persists, replace the end stops.

Snapped Filament

What’s the problem?

The filament spool looks full and there is filament in the feed tube, but nothing is extruding from the nozzle. This occurs more frequently with hidden-feed printers.

Why is it happening?

Old or low-quality 3d printing filament is often to blame. Although most filaments last a long time, problematic conditions (such as direct sunlight) can cause them to become brittle.

Tension that is too high for the filament’s diameter may also cause it to snap.


Remove and reload Filament

Remove the filament from the printer. As the filament will likely have snapped inside the tube, you will need to remove the tube from both the extruder and hot end. Then, heat the nozzle and pull out the filament. Reload with new filament and run a test print.

Try Another Filament

If the filament snaps again, use another filament type to check whether the filament used is old or brittle. If the new filament works, dispose of the old filament.

Loosen the Idler Tension

If the new filament snaps, loosen the idler tension entirely. As the print starts, slowly tighten it as recommended for your printer until the filament does not slip and runs smoothly.

Check the Nozzle

Check and clean the nozzle to remove any blockages.

Check Flow Rate and Temperature

If the problem continues, check that the hot end is heating to the correct temperature. Ensure the flow rate is 100%.

Stripped Filament

What’s the problem?

Stripped or slipping filament can lead to a lack of filament being extruded from the hot end.

Why is it happening?

Blockages, loose idler tensioner, and incorrect hot end temperature are common culprits. The knurled nut or toothed gear in the extruder is unable to pull or push the filament through the printer, grinding on the filament instead until it is stripped and unusable.


Manually Feed the System

If the filament has begun to slip, you may hear a noise and see plastic shavings. Apply gentle pressure to the filament to feed it through.

Adjust the Idler Tension

Loosen the idler, feed in the filament, and tighten the idler until it stops slipping. Filaments vary in diameter, so adjusting the tension may require some trial and error.

Remove the Filament

In most cases, you will have to remove and replace the filament before feeding it through the system. Remove the filament and cut the filament below the area showing signs of slipping/stripping. Then, feed it back into the system. If the filament has snapped, use new filament.

Check Hot End Temperature

Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct temperature for the filament you are using and reset the temperature accordingly.

Previous article How to Fix Under Extrusion- What Causes Under Extrusion on Your 3d Prints and How to Fix Them

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