Stratasys Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printers are known for their ability to stand up to many hours of build time without hands-on maintenance for weeks or months at a time. But even the best 3D printers experience issues from time to time, especially ones as common as a clogged tip and loss of extrusion. In this blog, we outline how to fix 3D printer loss of extrusion (LOS), so you can quickly be on your way to resuming your normal production schedule.
How To Know When Your 3D Printer is Experiencing Loss of Extrusion
Before fixing the problem, you have to know the correct signs to diagnose your 3D printer. The most common indicator of a clogged tip and loss of extrusion is when the printer head is moving but no material is extruding from the tips. Other warning signs are when the height of the model and support materials are different, or the structure is sagging due to no support material. All of these point to loss of extrusion.
If a clogged tip is the problem…
Does your 3D printer tip look like the one above? If the answer is “yes”, then you may need to schedule a service call with our tech support team to unclog it. But first, here are some basic instructions for unclogging the tips and clearing LOS yourself:
Step 1: Remove the head cover, pressing the tabs in and pulling it away from the head.
Step 2: Inspect top of tips for material build up. If there is no excess material build up close the chamber door and continue.
Step 3: From the display panel press Maintenance.
Step 4: Press Machine. The printer will calibrate which will take approximately 3 minutes.
Step 5: Press Head. The head will heat up to operating temperature which will take approximately 3 minutes.
Step 6: Press Select Drive and choose the drive that may have the clogged tip.
Step 7: Press Forward, the drive wheel will turn the selected drive forward.
Step 8: Press Blower Off, this will turn the head cooling fan off for 10 seconds, allowing the tip to heat up beyond operating temperature. If material starts to extrude the tip is no longer clogged. Press Done.
Step 9: Replace head cover.
Step 10: Display will ask Which Materials Loaded? Press Both.
Step 11: Press done until back to Idle.
If a material jam is the problem…
If the material still does not extrude after you unclog your 3D printer, and your printer looks like the picture above, then the cause is most likely a material jam. In this instance, you can try the following steps:
Step 1: From the display panel, press Continue.
Step 2: Press Maintenance.
Step 3: Press Machine.
Step 4: Press Head.
Step 5: Once in head maintenance mode, remove the head cover by pressing the tabs in and pulling away from the head.
Step 6: Inspect tip inlets for material build up, if there is no excess material build up close the chamber door and continue.
Step 7: Press Select Drive and choose the drive that may have the clogged tip.
Step 8: Press Forward, the drive wheel will turn the selected drive forward.
Step 9: Press Blower Off, this will turn the head cooling fan off for 10 seconds, allowing the tip to heat up beyond operating temperature. If material starts to extrude the tip is no longer clogged. If material extrudes, you can continue building your part.
Step 10: Reinstall the head cover.
Step 11: Press Done.
Step 12: Display will ask Which Materials Loaded? Press Both.
Step 13: Press done until back to Pause screen.
Step 14: Press Resume in order to continue building the part.
How To Recover From Loss of Extruction
Once you fix your clogged tip or material jam, the next step is recovery and starting the 3D printer back up. Follow these suggestions, and you should be well on your way to productive printing:
Step 1: Enter Head Maintenance mode.
- From Idle, press Maintenance.
- Press Machine.
- Press Head. The head will heat up to operating temperature which will take approximately 3 minutes.
Step 2: Remove the head cover by pressing the tabs in and pulling away from the head.
Step 3: Place the toggle bar in neutral position (bar will extend equally from both sides of head). This can be done manually.
Note: The head area is hot, so it is recommended you understand this entire procedure before performing any of the work. For safety, use leather gloves when working in this area of printer.
Step 4: Remove any excess material found around the head area. Clean out as much of the material as possible using needle nose pliers, a probe, or equivalent tool.
Note: Be careful not to cause a build-up of material uder the head cover. This can occur when feeding material to the tip.
Caution: The end of the tip where the material enters is called the extrusion tube. Extrusion tubes are fragile. Use care when working in this area so as to avoid damage to the tubes.
Step 5: Replace the head cover.
Step 6: Press done on the display panel.
Step 7: Display will ask Which Materials Loaded? Press Model if only model material is loaded, press Support if only support material is loaded or press Both if both model and support material are still loaded. Press none if neither is loaded.
Note: Make sure that all loose material is removed from the affected area.
Step 8: Display will ask you to remove the carrier of the materials that are not loaded. Remove the carrier and cut the excess material.
Step 9: Press done until back at Idle.
Step 10: Reload the material that is not loaded.
Still have questions about how to fix loss of extrusion? Download our free guide for more detailed instruction and diagrams that walk you through the process.