Occasionally when 3D printing, your nozzle will clog. This typically happens when switching materials but can happen at other times, too. Of course, it’s best to prevent clogs and other issues before they become an issue by regularly maintaining and cleaning your printer.
Verify Your Nozzle Is Clogged
Before spending ages cleaning your nozzle, only to find out it isn’t the issue, it’s a good idea to check. For example, the filament might have broken above the extruder, or the heating block might be faulty. These issues will essentially look like a clogged nozzle but attempting to unclog it won’t fix either.
It’s a good idea to make sure that your nozzle is clean. A wire brush is an effective way of doing so. Use linear motions from all directions to best clean the nozzle. A wire brush is recommended because the bristles are stiffer and, therefore, more effectively removing burned-on plastic. In some cases, the nozzle manufacturer may recommend against using a wire brush because it is harder than the nozzle or could catch on a multipart nozzle, causing damage in either case.
Heat and Needle
Generally, clogs are the result of a build-up of material on the inside of the nozzle. The most effective way to remove this is by heating the nozzle and then pushing the remaining filament out with a needle. While this can be done when the nozzle is still attached, it’s easier to remove it and heat it with a heat gun, blow torch, or a similar heat source. In either case, be very careful as you will be working around a very hot object and potentially open flames.
In some cases, a solvent may be able to help you out. For example, if you’ve been printing with ABS, it’s highly likely that submerging the nozzle in acetone and leaving it for a few hours will dissolve the ABS clogging the nozzle. This won’t work with all filaments, with acetone or other solvents. Make sure to research the filaments that you’ve used and any applicable solvents. It’s also important to make sure that you place it in a container that the solvent won’t eat. If you don’t check this, you could return to a nasty mess.
Unclogging a nozzle isn’t particularly easy, but it is necessary if it happens. Of course, if you can’t be bothered to deal with it, you could always just replace the nozzle too.
While this may be reasonable for an old nozzle that you’ve got lots of use out of and is starting to clog more often, it’s not so great with brand new or more expensive nozzles. Have you got any other tips for unclogging a nozzle? Let us know down below.