Neighbors take out the trash at 3AM, gregarious dogs hump your leg, and 3D printers jam. These are unfortunate but unavoidable facts of life.
I’ve invested in nighttime earplugs and my leg’s been celibate lately, but the other day the first ever maintenance issue with my shiny new Series 1 cropped up. Filament jam. Booooo.
The support section of the Type A Machines website is unfortunately silent on the subject of clearing a clogged nozzle. Scouring forum threads is seldom productive for me, so I grabbed a hex wrench and dove right in on the off chance that I might learn something without breaking something expensive.
The first thing I’ll do is check for obvious problems. Is there a blob of plastic blocking the nozzle? No. We’re good. Just to be on the safe side I’ll insert a pin into the nozzle’s opening and wiggle it around a little.
What about the hobbed gear? There is some powdered filament on there that can reduce the gear’s ability to grab the filament and push it into the extruder. I keep a small, stiff paintbrush around the 3D printers for just such an eventuality. Type A has made the gear very accessible, so it’s easy to clean. Ten points to Ravenclaw.
Neither of these easy fixes got me up and running again, so the next step is to take the extruder apart and see what’s jamming things up inside.
The extruder comes apart with a few turns of a single hex bolt in the middle of the extruder; ten more points to Ravenclaw for keeping things straightforward.
Things are so simple here that any blockage should be obvious. The gray schmutz is probably thermal paste but definitely not melted plastic, and it’s not messing with the printer’s feed tube anyways.
This indicates that the clog is further down in the needle assembly. There’s really only one way to handle this short of replacing the needle and that’s to manually force whatever’s stuck in there through.
The extruder, unaware that it’s been vivisected, will happily heat up as normal with a few clicks from Octoprint. Set the target temperature to 300° and then use a long piece of thick wire to push the molten goop through the nozzle.
You’ll want a pair of pliers to hold that extruder block while you do this. A prehensile tail will be handy if you’d like to photograph the process and put it on your blog.
(My tail’s just a crusty little degenerate twin so no photos for you.)
Big old warning: if you push too hard, you can accidentally force the needle through the extruder block when you do this. Turns out the needles are designed to be removed, but I didn’t know this when I began the process.
So, gentle pressure it is, with the extruder block held in a pair of pliers. You’ll get some zit-popping levels of satisfaction when the hot plastic plug finally bursts free through the nozzle.
Just to make sure there’s a free flow of filament, keep the needle at 300° and use a second pair of pliers to push a length of narrow gauge wire all the way through the needle and then work it back and forth. You’d be surprised what kind of crud you can floss out of one of these.
Reassemble the extruder (one hex bolt. ONE!) and you’re back in business.