There are many different 3D printers available on the market, but they all use filaments to print the required item. Filaments are available in different colors ranging from black to shiny gold! Each filament spool can be changed for the specific item that you are printing.
To remove and change the filament on your 3D printer, stop or pause the machine and gently remove the used filament from the nozzle. Remove the old spool and load a new spool onto the printer. Feed the new filament back through the nozzle, and press restart.
Changing the filament spool is a reasonably quick process depending on the type of 3D printer you are using. There are several specific steps that you need to follow to ensure that the job is done correctly. In this article, we will discuss how to change the filament and the reasons why it should be changed.
How To Change The Filament On A 3D Printer
A 3D printer filament does need to be changed from time to time, either because the filament has run out, the color needs to be changed, or the printer has encountered a problem. Knowing how to trouble-shoot 3D printer problems and quickly and efficiently change a filament is a great skill to learn for operating your 3D printer.
What You Should Know When Changing The Filament On A 3D Printer
Follow these simple steps to change the filament on your 3D printer. It may not be easy at first if you are new to the world of 3D printers, but this procedure will become easier the more you do it.
- Heat the temperature on the nozzle. Check the filament’s recommended temperature on the spool – PLA temperatures are generally slightly lower than ABS. Around 190 degrees Celsius (374 degrees Fahrenheit) is a perfect temperature for ABS filaments.
- Remove the old filament. Release the handle on the filament by pressing the extruder lever. Withdraw the old filament from the extruder and remove the spool.
- Prepare the new filament. Clip and shape the top of the new filament to a 45-degree angle using micro cutters. Discard the piece which you cut off. Straighten the first 10 cm (4 inches) of filament as it is bent when coming off the spool. A straight piece of filament needs to be inserted into the extruder.
- Insert the new filament. Squeeze the extruder lever and place the filament in between the toothed extruder gear and the idler pulley. Gently push the filament down into the nozzle. Keep pushing the filament along until you feel resistance. This means that the filament has reached the nozzle.
- Purge the nozzle. Before the new filament can be used, the old filament must be purged from the nozzle.
- On the control knob, scroll to control setting > Axis > 1mm > extruder.
- Scroll to move the extruder axis 15 to 20 mm (.5 inches).
- Clip off excess filament using a pair of tweezers. The filament will feed through the nozzle, purging the old filament. The old filament can be discarded.
- Select cooldown on your control settings. You can use your 3D printer immediately after changing the filament, or it can be used at a later time.
- Continue to use your 3D printer as usual.
Top tips when changing the 3D printer filament:
Here are a few quick tried and tested tips from the experts to help make the process run smoothly.
- If the filament gets stuck while trying to remove or replace it, stop and try again.
- If you need to change the temperature as the new filament is PLA and you were previously using ABS, you only change the temperature once you have changed the filament; otherwise, you will have a clogged nozzle.
- Be sure to check the XX level after every filament change.
- Do not exert any pressure on the XX rails during the filament change when the stepper motors are turned off. This could cause the ZX motors to move and cause the XX’s to become unevenly leveled.
- Check the bed leveling after every filament change with the leveling tool.
When To Change The Filament On A 3D Printer
We have covered how to change a 3D printer filament when setting up a new printer or loading a filament for a new job. What happens if the filament runs out mid-print or if the color needs to be changed on an item that you are already printing? Let’s take a look.
How To Change Colors On A 3D Printer During Mid-Print
If the filament runs out mid-print, or if you need to change a color on the item that you are printing, here is what you do. There is no need to pre-heat the nozzle as you are already working on it, so it should be at the correct temperature.
- Press the pause button on the printer. Do not press stop as this will stop all printing leading to an incomplete print. You will have to start printing over from the beginning! You can pre-set the program to stop printing at a particular layer when you need to change colors.
- The printer will finish the g code line that is currently printing and move to the home position. When back in the home position, the filament will back out far enough for you to grab hold of it and pull it out.
- Fit the new spool onto the machine. Pull out a length of the filament and clip off the end to a 45-degree angle using the micro cutters. Discard the piece which you have cut off. Feed the new piece into the extruder. If the filament gets held up on the compression fitting, unscrew and remove it, press down the lever for the extruder and feed the filament through. Replace and tighten the compression fitting.
- Ensure that you only apply pressure from the extruder’s side – do not try and move up or down while loading the new filament. Slowly feed the filament through the extruder until it hits the nozzle.
- Remove the old filament from the nozzle. The new filament will force the remnants of the old color out.Clip off the old filament using the tweezers.
- Hit the continue button, and the printer will restart and pick up where it left off. Donot touch or move the gantry as the print will be destroyed, and you will have to start over.
What Can Go Wrong When Changing The Filament On A 3D Printer
You have followed the directions and changed the filament as instructed, but now the printer is not working or is not working as it should! Here are few common problems which could happen after changing the filament on your 3D printer.
1. The Print Looks Droopy Or Stringy
This problem is that the printer is taking in more material than what is required and produces more material than what is needed. This is a software problem. Check that you have selected the correct value on the extrusion multiplier setting.
2. The Filament Keeps Snapping
Usually, this is a problem with old filaments, which have been stored for a longtime. Most filaments have a long life span but can become brittle with time. The only solution is to replace the filament with a newer one.
3. Blocked Nozzle When Replacing The Filament
Often the filament will snap off and be left behind in the nozzle when changing the filament. When the new filament is loaded, it does not push the old filament out through the nozzle. The nozzle will have to be dismantled and cleaned. Follow the directions in the manual on how to do this.
Before buying your 3D printer, do the research first to see which type of printer would suit you and how easily accessible the filaments are in your area.
Changing 3D printer filaments can be regarded as a time-consuming, tedious chore, but it is a chore that needs to be done often to ensure that your items are printed correctly and in the right color. Learning the correct way to change the filaments and address any problems that might happen on your 3D printer will ensure many happy days of printing!