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How to unclog the extruder

Clogged extruder
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Today we’re going to talk about a problem that all Creality printers have one time or another.

If you see that your perfect-printing Ender is having under extrusion and stringing or retraction problems, then you might check if your bowden tube or nozzle has filament clogged on it. If you don’t, after some time having printing issues (and you will break your head thinking what are you doing wrong), It will arrive a moment that It will completely clog and the printer won’t extrude any filament. Then, you will disassemble your extruder and you will learn this.

Air gap between PTFE tube and nozzle.

Yes, it is a fact that all machines in the market can suffer extruder clogs, but Creality ones are specially cloggy due to the stock coupler (1) , which can release the PTFE bowden tube some milimeters up, creating an air gap between the tube and the nozzle.

This air gap will store residual filament, and as that zone is heated up to melt the plastic, it will start to clog your PTFE tube while retractions, (which will pull melted residual filament from the air gap into the PTFE tube).

How does a clogged PTFE tube looks like?

Clogged PTFE bowden tube

If your PTFE tube get obstructed, It won’t pull any filament out, so you will have to clean it up, as well as the nuzzle:

Clogged 0.4mm nuzzle

As you can see, it is obvious that printing can’t be done under this conditions, so It is time to learn how to solve this issue.

How to unclog the extruder

Once we arrive to this point, I am going to list all basic steps you have to follow to unclog your Ender 3‘s extruder.

Note: Each extruder is different, so this steps may not be applicable to other extruders, but the concept of how to work should be almost the same.

  • First of all, you need to heat the nozzle up to 200 – 210ÂșC. This will melt all the material inside the extruder.
  • Unload the filament if you got it loaded.
  • Untight the coupler (1). This will let you release the PTFE tube from inside.
PTFE released.
  • Untight the nozzle (4) using pliers to hold the heating zone (3)and a pipe wrench of 6mm for removing the nozzle.
Nozzle remove using 6mm pipe wrench
  • Clear the nozzle out carefully (It will be really hot).
  • Then push the PTFE tube until it shows from the bottom of the extruder as shown below. This will push out any material remaining inside the extruder. Clean the inside of the PTFE tube and repeat this step until it is all clean.

When it is already empty, you can re assemble all in, and it will be done. A little trick to be sure to get PTFE tube properly tight to the nozzle:

When assembling the nozzle, untight it one full turn so the nozzle is one turn loosen. Then push the PTFE bowden tube until it touches the loosen nozzle, and screw last nozzle turn again. This will make you be sure it is properly tighten, with no gap between both parts.

After tighting all components, we are ready to load filament again and just try to extrude:

It extrudes again!

Well, arrived to this point the extruder is unclogged. Now it is time to calibrate the extruder again. This has to be done because as it was getting clogged, we change printing parameters to “compensate” the under extrusion problem, so we need to adjust our parameters again.

Article written by:

A Product designer who specializes in CAD modeling, 3D printing and other industrial processes.

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