Jump to content
Ultimaker Community of 3D Printing Experts

Filament doesn't always extrude

Recommended Posts

well there are a lot of causes. You have to figure out if it's the cold end of hot end. It helps to have experience such that you can simply loosen the feeder and push manually through a hot nozzle and judge if it is extruding normally. the extruder can only push/pull about 10 pounds force. So that's another test - insert the filament only half way into the bowden and fight it by pulling the filament back out while the printer holds the gear in place. It should handle about 10 pounds force before it slips.

Once you know a little more I could suggest other things. Here is my list for the UM2 but most of this is the same for UMO - I just edited it below deleting um2 only things and modifying it a little for umo.


As far as underextrusion causes - there's just so damn many. none of the issues seem to cause more than 20% of problems so you need to know the top 5 issues to cover 75% of the possibilities and 1/4 people still won't have the right issue. Some of the top issues:

1) Print slower and hotter! Here are top recommended speeds for .2mm layers (twice as fast for .1mm layers) and .4mm nozzle:

20mm/sec at 200C

30mm/sec at 210C

40mm/sec at 225C

50mm/sec at 240C

The printer can do double these speeds but with huge difficulty and usually with a loss in part quality due to underextrusion. Different colors print best at quite different temperatures and due to imperfect temp sensors, some printers print 10C cool so use these values as an initial starting guideline and if you are still underextruding try raising the temp. But don't go over 240C with PLA.

2) Shell width confusion. Shell width must be a multiple of nozzle size. For example if nozzle size is .4mm and shell width is 1mm cura will make the printer do 2 passes with .5mm line width which is possible but requires you to slow down much more to make a .5mm line out of a .4mm nozzle. If you really want this then set nozzle size to .5mm so it's clear what you are asking Cura to do for you.

3) Isolator - this is most common if you've printed extra hot (>240C) for a few hours or regular temps (220C) for 500 hours. It gets soft and compresses the filament under pressure. It's the white part touching the heater block. It's very hard to test when not under full pressure (spring and bowden) so sometimes it's best to just replace it. Also if you notice parts of it are very soft (the blacker end where it touches higher heat) then it's too old and needs replacing.

4) Curved filament at end of spool - if you are past half way on spool, try a fresh spool as a test.

5) curved angle feeding into feeder - put the filament on the floor -makes a MASSIVE difference.

7) clogged nozzle - the number one problem of course - even if it seems clear. There can be build up on the inside of the nozzle that only burning with a flame can turn to ash and remove. Sometimes a grain of sand gets in there but that's more obvious (it just won't print). Atomic method (cold pull) helps but occasionally you need to remove the entire heater block/nozzle assembly and use flame. Or soak it in acetone overnight (after removing 90% of the material with cold pull).

8) Temp Sensor bad - even the good ones vary by +/- 5C and bad ones can be any amount off - they usually read high and a working sensor can (rarely) fail high slowly over time. Meaning the sensor thinks you are at 220C but actually you are at 170C. At 170C the plastic is so viscous it can barely get out of the nozzle. You can verify your temp sensor using this simple video at youtube - on you tube search for this: mrZbX-SfftU

9) feeder spring issues - too tight, too loose - I like the sprint compressed to about 10mm.

10) Other feeder issues, examine your feeder carefully - make sure things spin properly - check for tiny pieces of wood...

11) Filament diameter too big - 3mm is too much. 3mm filament is usually 2.85mm nominal or sometimes 2.9mm +/- .05. But some manufacturers (especially in china) make true 3.0mm filament with a tolerance of .1mm which is useless in an Ultimaker. It will print for a few meters and then clog so tight in the bowden you will have to remove the bowden from both ends to get the filament out. Throw that filament in the trash! It will save you weeks of pain

11b) Something wedged in with the filament. I was setting up 5 printers at once and ran filament change on all of them. One was slowly moving the filament through the tube and was almost to the head when I pushed the button and it sped up and ground the filament badly. I didn't think it was a problem and went ahead and printed something but there was a ground up spot followed by a flap of filament that got jammed in the bowden tube. Having the "plus" upgrade or using the IRobertI feeder helps you feel this with your hand by sliding the filament through the bowden a bit to see if it is stuck.

12) Hot weather. If air is above 30C or even possibly 25C, the air temperature combined with the extruder temperature can soften the filament inside the feeder such that it is getting squeezed flat as it passes through the feeder - this is obvious as you can see the problem in the bowden. The fix is to add a desk fan blowing on the back of the printer. Not an issue on the UM2 "plus" series.

13) Crimped bowden. At least one person had an issue where the bowden was crimped a bit too much at the feeder and although the printer worked fine when new it eventually got worse and had underextrusion on random layers. it's easy to pull the bowden out of the feeder end and examine it.

14) Small nozzle. Rumor has it some of the .4mm nozzles are closer to .35mm. Not sure if this is actually true. I'm a bit skeptical but try a .6mm nozzle maybe.

15) CF filament. The knurled sleeve in the extruder can get ground down smooth - particularly from carbon fill. 4 spools of CF will destroy not just nozzles but the knurled sleeve also. Look at it visually where the filament touches the "pyramids". Make sure the pyramids are sharp.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


Important Information

Terms of Use Privacy Policy