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3D Printer Nozzle Care & Maintenance Guide Part 2: Cleaning and Replacing a 3D Printer Extruder Nozzle

A clean 3D printer nozzle is worth a pound of unclogging.

Now that you’ve successfully unclogged your 3D printer nozzle with our 3 unclogging hacks from our previous blog post, you will do everything to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. Prevention is key, so here are ways you could prevent that dreaded 3D printer nozzle jam forever!

Cleaning Filament

A good cleaning filament can be used to clean your extruder nozzle for 3D printing. It removes plastic traces and contaminants that are left over after each print jobs. Various cleaning filaments require different range of temperatures. Once molten, it secretes a purging compound that contaminants stick to, therefore coming out together with the filament once it is extruded through the hot end. Alas, a cleaning filament can only be used for unclogged nozzles since it needs to be able to flow through the extruder.

You can find good quality cleaning filaments from manufacturers of 3D printers, such as Ultimaker as well as 3D printer filament brands.

Manual brushing

Before starting with any 3D printing project, make sure that there is no blockage anywhere around the heating block or the tip of the nozzle. You can do this by brushing in a linear motion the affected areas with a wire brush. Wire brushes can remove burnt residue from nozzles and heating block surfaces easier than a toothbrush. However, you have to check if your nozzle can withstand metal brushing as some are easily damaged.

Nozzle replacement

No, it does not mean that you could just toss away your clogged nozzles. What it means is that you should be replacing your nozzles according to your 3D projects and the 3D printer filaments you use. We previously talked about the effects of different 3D printer nozzle sizes, but the make of the nozzles can also determine what filaments you can use for it. Here are the top metals used to make nozzles and what they’re good for:

  • Brass: As the most commonly used metal for nozzles, it can be used with PLA, PETG, ABS, TPE, TPU, PC, Nylon, and other non-abrasive filaments.
  • Hardened steel: It works best with highly abrasive filaments, such as the ColorFabb Bronzefill.
  • Tungsten and Ruby: These specialty metals are made to stand strong against constant contact with abrasive filaments.
  • Stainless steel: This metal is used for FDA-approved or medical device-related prints.

It is important to be switching out nozzles especially when you’re using swapping out filaments for a project. Here is the common method for nozzle replacement:

Tools you’ll need:

  • Crescent wrench (for the heater block)
  • Wrench (for the nozzle)
  • Heat-resistant gloves
  1. Turn up the heat of the hot end: Heating up the nozzle, heat break, and heater block makes the metal expand, which then makes the threads of the nozzle easier to loosen. If there are remaining filaments in the printer, remove it as well.
  2. Unscrew the nozzle : Wearing your heat-resistant gloves, use the crescent wrench to hold the heater block. Be careful not to grip it too tightly, just tight enough to keep it steady while removing the nozzle. While holding the heater block, get the small wrench with your other hand and start unscrewing the nozzle in a clockwise rotation.
  3. Position the new nozzle: Just screw in the new nozzle by hand since it’s still hasn’t been heated. Once it’s become difficult to screw on, use a wrench to tighten it further until it’s properly installed. Be careful not to tighten it too much as it can mess up the threads. And voila, you can start printing again!

Caring for your nozzles requires vigilance and care, but it makes it all the more worth it as it reduces the risk of and even prevents clogging from ever happening again. If you have any questions about 3D printer nozzles or 3D printer filaments in general, you can call us on 08 6380 7488. You could also stock up on our X3D Pro Brand PLA and ABS Filaments with our $10 off discount for the week.