How To Change 3D Printer Filament?

Replacing a new filament is a common and frequent task when one starts to use a 3D printer. Learning how to change 3d Printer Filament is very essential to avoid issues during and after changing the filament.

When you own a FDM 3D printer and start your project, after changing the filament, you may face certain problems like clogging of nozzle, putting more effort to pull out the filament, getting bad prints, and it may even be complicated and time consuming to place the new filament in the right spot.

To sort out all such issues keep reading the article ahead and get smart tips to change the filament.

Step 1: Take Off The Old Filament.

The initial step is to remove the priorly loaded filament. This would be possible only if the nozzle is heated up to the melting temperature depending on the type of filament that you have inserted. If you are not aware of the melting temperature of the filament, the temperature range can be easily found on the spool of the filament and even on the website of the manufacturer.

How to change 3d Printer Filament
FIg: Take Out the old filament
  • To heat the nozzle, first turn on your printer and click on the control knob in order to open the main menu.
  • In the main menu go to control settings and set up the desired temperature to melt the loaded filament.
  • Once the temperature is set up, wait till the hotend is heated upto the required temperature. This helps filament to easily extrude out.
  • Gently squeeze out the whole remaining filament through the nozzle.
  • Secure and clip the loose end of the filament into the holes on the side of the spool and place it for the next use.
  • Take out the current filament spool from the printer.

Step 2: Insert The New Filament.

Since the nozzle and extruder are empty now, they are ready to take up the new filament.

Insert new filament
FIg: New inserted Filament
  • Extruding the filament directly by pushing is highly complicated without making its edge sharp enough. So, now hold the new filament in your hand and cut its tip by a sharp angle of 45 degrees with the help of scissors so that the filament can come out easily through the extruder.
  • Insert the new filament with a great care into the extruder, when the filament comes out from the spool it’s not going to be straight, so bend the end of the filament about two inches to make it straight.
  • After this, feed the filament through the extruder till it reaches a firm resistance. Once you feel this firm resistance it signifies that the filament had reached the nozzle.

Step 3: Flush Out The Nozzle.

Before you start 3D Printing with the new filament, you have to flush out the old filament completely from the nozzle. This step will assure you that the remaining old filament is flushed out through the nozzle and you can move ahead printing with the new filament.

Flush out  the existing extruder filament
Fig: Purging out the existing FIlament in Extruder

Here it is very important to note that if you have used the old filament with a higher temperature than the present one, then you must set up the same temperature of the old filament throughout this step.

  • Click on the control button to open the settings menu. 
  • Move to the axis and press on the one millimeter.
  • Scroll to nozzle and click on it to find the range. Select the range between 15 to 20mm.
  • Gradually the extruder starts feeding the filament through the nozzle which purges out the old filament.
  • Rinsing the nozzle only for once is not enough. You must perform the same thing many times so that the nozzle can completely remove the remaining filament.
  • Make sure that the material is the new one which is coming out through the nozzle and now you will be printing only the new material.
Flusing out filament
Fig: Previous Filament coming out

What Exactly Happens When You Run Out Of Filament?

This happens depending on the type of printer you have. A printer without a sensor continues to print even after it runs out of the filament as if it is truly extruding the filament and printing. But the thing is, the printer does not print when it runs out of the filament, instead it simply moves its printing head until it finishes the printing pattern.This leads to the clogging of the nozzle and also an incomplete print.

Filament Uploading
Fig: Ender 3 Settings for Filament upload

Clogging of the nozzle may also be caused due to the use of low quality filaments, improper settings in the temperature, dust and dirt etc,.

Change filament settings
Fig: Change filament settings on ender 3

To overcome this you must be ready with sufficient filaments for your desired print. It is actually good if you insert a filament sensor, so that you may not face such issues.

What Is The Role Of Filament Sensors?

Filament sensor is specially featured and inserted into the 3D printer to alert you about the printer running out of filament during the process.

FIlament Sensors
Fig: Filament Sensors

When the printer runs out of the filament, the sensor guides the extruder to move its head aside and stop the printing process, immediately it also sends signals to the printer, which then alarms by making a buzzer sound or beeping sound to let you know load a new filament.

Go to the LCD knob in the control panel and once again set it to accept the new filament. Now take out the old reel, cut and sharpen the new filament’s end at 45 degrees, then insert it into the extruder. 

Removing Stubborn Filament:

What Do You Mean By Plopping Method?

The plop indicates to take out the filament with an instant jerk movement. This method is quite helpful during the replacement of the filaments.

Before you start off with this, the hotend must be preheated by about 5 to 10 degrees celsius more than that of actual printing temperature of the loaded filament. When the hotend reaches this temperature, hold the extruder down and free down the tension on the extruder.

Filament Uploading
Fig: Popping method (Preheating)

Once this is done, gently press down the filament through the nozzle till you find a thread like structure coming out of it.

As soon as you observe a proper flow of the material through the nozzle, quickly drag the filament upwards. This act frees down the nozzle and the throat from the remaining filament by creating a suction.

After performing the whole procedure, in order to remove the tension about the clogged nozzle in your mind the printer produces a clear cut pop sound and that proves that the whole performed procedure is absolutely perfect.

What Is An Atomic Pull Method?

This method is widely known as the Coldpull method. Using this method, the filament residues in the clogged nozzles or the hotends can be easily flushed out without dismantling the whole thing.

If you are willing to go with this method, use a brighter ink or filament compared to the previously printed filament.

This method is ideal when you use a filament that is made up of natural slippery material such as nylon. It demands a high temperature to melt due to the presence of amide groups in it and therefore you must heat it up to 110 degrees celsius. If there is no nylon with you this method can also be performed using any other least brittle and slippery materials.

In case you are using a PLA filament to print an object, then it is mandatory to maintain a temperature of about 80 degrees celsius.  

Then allow the nozzle to cool down and with the help of a pulling jerk drag out the nozzle from the hotend.

You will have to perform the same method several times to flush out the whole material remnants from the nozzle.

It is very important to note that you must not touch the hotend and the brass nozzle’s tip at any cause while performing this method.

How To Sharpen and Straighten New Filaments?

It has been reported by many users that before replacing a new filament into the printer they make sure the tip of the filament of about two inches is sharpened by cutting it to an angle of 45 degrees. They also recommend using any kind of cable cutter to sharpen the filament’s tip.

Next it is very important to smoothen the tip of the filament at the end, so that it can reach the nozzle without much effort. This step can be done by using your fingers itself, but make sure the tip of the filament must not be smoothened and straightened more than five centimeters. 

While you use a PLA, the heat produced in your hand is more than enough to smoothen and straighten the filament. In case if you are using any other kind of filament to print, it is necessary to provide additional heat to boost up the straightening process. You can even provide warmth to the filament with the help of a hairdryer.

How To Weld a New Filament?

In order to go with the welding method, you must know how to shape a welding seam for larger and complex objects. 

Many operators weld both the new and old filament spools at the same time.

If you wish to do the same thing before you start to weld the filaments, heat their ends  briefly and press both the ends at once. You can heat the ends with the help of a lighter. While doing so you must take care of your fingers because the ends of the filaments are hot and may burn your fingers. 

Here the weld is not a flawless transition and now you have to give work to your fingers to shape the ends.

This method is highly complicated when you try to thin the welding spot and is not even safe enough. There is a chance that the priorly loaded filament can easily escape from the nozzle and leak onto the object, which then becomes difficult to remove the excess material. 

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