8 Methods To Fix 3D Printer Extruder Clicking / Slipping – Ender 3, Ender 5 & Prusa Mini

Overview of 3D Printer Extruder Clicking

There have been many reports of 3D Printer extruder clicking and grinding noises, but there have been fewer reports of how to fix them.

The following is a step-by-step guide to resolving the issue.

Fixing of 3D Printer Clicking noise can be done by running a series of tests on your 3D Printer. Some of these checks include 

  • Check to see if both the print bed and nozzle are too close
  • Check the temperature of the extruder, it may be low or
  • If the printer is not able to print at its usual speed 
  • Check if Nozzle or tube is blocked, 
  • Check if there is a dust/debris accumulation in the nozzle hole

Once the issue is discovered, the solution is usually pretty straightforward.

When you hear clicking noises from your 3D printer, it usually indicates that it is attempting to push the filament out but failing to do so.

There can be many reasons for it as below

  • The nozzle is very close to the print bed  
  • The stepper motor might be losing steps
  • Extruder gears are not clutching the filament tightly enough, or
  • Problem with the filament-holding bearings which hold the filament pressure.

While above are the main reasons for 3D printer feeder Clicking / Grinding noises, some people experience other reasons which we’ve described below:

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1. Nozzle & Print Bed Are Very Close

The sound might be because the nozzle and Printer bed are too close to each other during the extrusion of the initial few layers.

The hard metal material of your nozzle scraping on your printing surface can easily cause a grinding noise from your 3D printer. If this is a problem you are experiencing, the fix is pretty easy.

Because there isn’t enough pressure to travel through the filament, the extruder will skip, resulting in a clicking noise.

Also, ensure that your 3D printer’s Z-stop is at the right place to prevent it from slipping down.

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The Solution

The solution is to simply level the bed with the paper/card under the nozzle approach, allowing for a bit more movement.

After finishing all four corners, double-check that the angles aren’t off from the prior leveling. Then repeat the process over the central part to ascertain the leveling of the print bed is done.

Leveling of the print bed is good when the bed is heated, as beds tend to warp when they are heated.

Also, you can run print tests to check the level. These are done by getting quick prints that will show any leveling problems so you can determine if your extrusion works well enough.

This video shows you how to level more accurately and in-depth.

This is more likely if you have a bed that needs manual leveling.

You don’t have to manually level your bed every time. Instead, your 3D printer can do it automatically by using the popular BlTouch Auto Bed Leveling Sensor, available from Amazon. This saves you a lot of time and frustration when setting up your printer.

It can be used on any type of bed material. Many users have reported a significant improvement in print quality and reliability. It is worth every penny to be able to make you feel confident with your 3D printer.

Buy now
Expert Tip:

Consider buying the best hot-end metal kits. These improve extrusion flow. One such kit is the Micro Swiss All-Metal Hotend which is efficient in melting the filament so that the pressure isn’t accumulated inside the nozzle and causes a clicking/slipping extruder.

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2. Extrusion Temperature Too Low 

If clicking occurs in layers beyond the first few extruded layers it is a sign that your extrusion temperature has dropped too low.

Low extrusion temperatures can cause your material to not melt fast enough. This could lead to a clicking sound as the print is not able to push the filament.

Your extruder may find it difficult to keep up due to speed settings that are too fast.

Extrusion temperatures that are too low can cause uneven melting of your materials. This causes the thicker extrusion of thermoplastic than it should be and has poor flow rates while passing through the nozzle.

Fixing Ender 3 Extruder Clicking

The fix for extruder clicking on your Ender 3, Ender 5, Prusa Mini or Prusa MK3s, Anet, and other FDM printers is easy as shown below:

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This is a common problem. Simply increase the temperature of your printer and everything should work again.

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3. Extruder Is Unable to Keep up with Printer Speed

The extruder may struggle to keep up with the feed rates if the printing speed is set too high. The extruder may click or slip as a result of this.

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Reduce your print speed by 35mm/s and then gradually increase it in increments of 5mm/s.

The reason it can fix the issue is that in some cases, faster printer speeds work well for straight lines. However, if you have sharp angles or different degrees, your printer may have difficulty extruding at higher speeds.

You need a better extruder if you want to print faster without errors. BMG Dual Drive Extruder is the best one which can work great to keep up the speed.

You can also choose between the Bondtech original or the Bondtech clone. Once you have compared the prices, you can decide which one to buy. One user tried both and was able to feel the difference in the print quality and detail with which parts are printed

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4. Nozzle Blockage or Failure in PTFE Tubing

Your printer may make a clicking sound when its nozzle is blocked. This is because your printer doesn’t print as much plastic as it should. Your extruder will start to slip if your nozzle is blocked and accumulated with pressure.

The thermal break between the heater block and heat sink is another issue. Heat travels up to heat sinks and can cause the plastic to deform.

This can lead to the plastic getting formed like a plug, or a small blockage on the side of the cold and happen throughout the print at random points.

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The Solution

If the blockage is severe, give your nozzle a thorough cleaning or a cold pull. 

You can solve the thermal break or poor quality heat sink by lowering your temperature or getting a heat sink that is more efficient.

A defective PTFE tube can go unnoticed for quite a while before you notice it’s causing problems with your prints.

Getting a Creality Capricorn Premium PTFE Bowden Tube is an option for serious 3D hobbyists. This tubing is extremely popular due to its durability and long-term performance. You can get it from Amazon.

Capricorn PTFE tubes facilitate the free movement of the filament by offering low friction. This increases the printer response and high accuracy prints with minimal retraction settings.

Your extruder will have less wear and tear, slippage, and higher temperature resistance.

You also get a tube cutter!

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5. Gears and Extruders are Clogged With Dust and Debris.

The extruder and gears are always in motion during extrusion, exerting constant filament pressure. The extruder and gears are biting down on the filament while this is going on, which allows dirt and dust particles in these parts over time.

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The Solution

For a rapid remedy, simply exhale deeply into the extruder, which should do the trick if it isn’t too clogged. This, or simply wiping the extruder from the outside, may not be sufficient.

Most of the debris could be removed with a wet towel of paper without pushing it inside tightly.

The effective way is to switch off the printer, loosen the extruder screws, and detach the fan and feeder assembly. 

Then, clear the debris, and reassemble the fan and feeder. It should eventually work regularly again.

This could also be affected by the type and filament quality you use. You can try different brands to see which one is best. This is more common with filament that tends to become brittle, such as PLA, than with TPU.

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6. Extruder Gear Slipping Issues from Idler Axle Sliding out of Axle Support

Prusa MK3S users experienced this issue. It caused the idler gear to slip and also a clicking sound resulting in under extrusion and print failures. He came up with a brilliant solution as below:

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He created an Idle gear Axle Stabilizer, which can be found at Thingiverse. It removes the axle support holes to make it impossible for the axle to slip.

The idle gear axle should be able to snap into place while still allowing the gear to move freely as intended. This stabilizer has been in place for many months and the user is now printing for hundreds of hours.


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7. The Extruder Motor Is Not Properly Calibrated or Low Stepper Voltage

Although this reason is rare and uncommon, it’s still possible. This could be the problem if you have tried all other solutions but they don’t work.

An unreliable or damaged power connection can cause the printer’s motor to run unevenly, which slows down the feed to the printer head. This issue can also cause an extruder clicking sound in the printing process.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a bad or weak cable, it can be fixed once you have identified the problem.

Sometimes, manufacturers can be blamed for releasing power accessories that aren’t as effective as they should.

In order to prevent extruder slipping, double-check that the extruder’s wheel is properly fitted and not slipping on its feeder motor.

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The Solution

Check that power cables are properly fitted and free from damage or snags. Make sure your power cable can handle the printer safely and is capable of supplying sufficient voltage to the printer.

If you suspect that this is the problem, you can buy a new power supply or cable.


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8. Filament Feeder Problems Caused by Insufficient Tension in Filament 

High spring tension, as previously noted, can eat away material, resulting in a distorted shape and sluggish movement. This can also cause the clicking sound.

If your filament is not fed properly, you will experience uneven extrusion. This can be similar to printing at a low temperature. These filament feeder clicking problems can be caused by poor spring tension on the extruder of your printer.

If the spring tension of the printer is too low, the gripping wheel won’t provide enough pressure to move the material through the printer.

If the printer’s spring tension is too high, the gripping wheel tries to push with more force causing the deformation and shape change. The printing materials have a set tolerance limit as to how wide they can expand. For a 1.75mm Filament, it is 0.02mm.

The problem can be seen if the material gets squeezed or deformed.

It will be difficult for printing materials to pass through the tube. If it is further down the printer it will not print as smoothly.

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The Solution

You can adjust the screw to tighten or loosen spring tension or buy a new feeder.

If you have a low-quality printer, it’s better to change the feeder assembly, while it may not be needed for a high-quality printer as spring tension adjustments would be set right in it. 

The AMX3d Professional Grade 3D Printer Kit is a great choice if you need high-quality 3D prints. This is a standard set of 3D printer tools using which you can clean, finish and remove your 3D prints.

It allows you to:

  • Clean your 3D prints easily:  with this 25-piece kit. It includes 13 knives blades, 3 handles, long-tweezers, and needle-nose pliers along with a glue stick.
  • Easily remove 3D Prints: remove your 3D prints without damage using a specialized tool that comes with this.
  • Finish your 3D prints perfectly: with the 6-tool precision knife/pick/scraper blade combo. It can reach small crevices and give you a great finish

You can become a 3D printer pro now!

Gunaseelan Murugesan
Author | Website

Experienced Project Engineer with a demonstrated history of working in the field of Product Design & Development industry in Mechanical Engineering. Skilled in 3D Printing and Re engineering Technologies with CATIA V5 , Materials Science, Finite Element Analysis (FEA), Mimics, ANSYS Workbench and Casting Simulation software. Strong engineering professional with a Master’s Degree focused in Industrial Metallurgy from PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore.

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