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+3 years old ultimaker, more n more airprinting.. - solved


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Posted · +3 years old ultimaker, more n more airprinting.. - solved

hi guys

my machine is getting old. eventually..

I am getting quite bad print quality lately. couldnt resolve it yet.

my parts more and more got the so called "airprint-feature". ;)

They come out crunchy.. useless.

Extreme slowing down kinda helps getting something printed. but not realy.

adjusting the feeder tension didnt help eighter.

I want to find out where the problem hides.

Its not consistant though all layers.

Strangely some layers are printed nice.

(doesnt look like that is coming only from backpressure)

Some lines dotted, at least 50% of the printed line is too thin.. Perimeter and other walls dont touch each other anymore.


Heres what i did trying to solve it:

First i finetune in ulticontroller.. didnt help.

Then, remeasured the grey Filament and updated cura.

Grey 3mm Filament with Tolerances about 2.92mm/2.96mm (from E3D)

When i cut it, it looks quite round to me..

So did a reset to default in cura. and reset ulticontroller. (back to failsave)

Problem stayed...

Then i tried cranking up Flow on the Ulticontroller midprint, it gets better for some layers but not for long..

For testing purpose i loaded mutliple older PLAs, but all showed the same effect.

The Grey filament is brand new..

So i went though all possible places where it could jam, block, grind or else.

Disassembled Hotend and Extruder..

As far as i see thers nothing bad on hotendside.

The extruder took some beating over time.. (3years, machine runs on daily basis)

I think this is also because i use a lot of matte Filaments lately. they have a higher abrasive effect than glossy filaments..

(didnt order matte filament on purpose.. that webhop sold it as normal)


As Fix i turned Part 10A and 10B. so now they "use" their new side.

The Delrin plunger has been eaten over time too. so there i put in the still new upgrade Feeder with spring.

But sadly the problem ist still here..

So.. only can be a partly clogged nozzle then ?


a week earlier.. same filament, same machine



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    Posted · +3 years old ultimaker, more n more airprinting.. - solved

    Does the delrin wheel on the new extruder turn smoothly? It looks like the screw might be quite tight...

    Other than that, you should look at the ends of the bowden tube, and make sure that they are ok, and haven't gotten damaged from extended use. Make sure that filament slides smoothly through the bowden tube, and through the white teflon piece that the tube connects to at the hot end without any restrictions.

    Do you have an external thermometer you can use to monitor the temperature of the heater block, and make sure that the printer's thermocouple is still accurately calibrated. At the very least, have you checked the wiring, and tried to print hotter to see if that helps? If you connect the printer up to Cura or Repetier Host, does the temperature of the print head seem to stay fairly constant around the correct set temperature?

    Do you still have the original hotend, or did you upgrade to the V2 that has the longer exposed tube between the PEEK barrel and the aluminum block?

    If all of that is ok, then you might need to look more closely at the hotend tube and nozzle, and see if those are partly blocked; perhaps after lots of use, the inside of the brass tube has become coated with gunk that stops the plastic from heating as quickly or efficiently as it did originally?

    The good news is that it's a pretty simple system with only a few variables - something specific is causing the problems, and we should be able to figure out what it is, between us :-)


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    Posted · +3 years old ultimaker, more n more airprinting.. - solved

    thx for reply.

    I have the V2 hotend.

    i checked temp. is stable

    tightened all bolts.

    the delrinwheel runs freely. i added a washer on one side to center it over the Filament. (removed for testing sometimes)

    i cleaned the hotend as far as i could...

    i noticed that i didnt had that small white teflon piece in there. (i have an additional cold-end fan)

    also i couldnt find it in my UM-partsbin. but i now i had one in the V2 kit. i might need to order a new one.



    i can print again but only back at 70%speed (dialed at controler), cura normal profile.

    would be interesting to see how other 3year old extruders look like..

    maybe someone posts me a pic.


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    Posted · +3 years old ultimaker, more n more airprinting.. - solved

    yep i think so. but its strange..

    the last hotend changes i made are back some months. it used to print until last week..

    so i guess i got lucky and just mounted it super perfect back then.

    also i got me a ceramic hotend with jHead mount..

    maybe i redesign the whole flyhead in future. but until that i need some more printed parts. ;)

    heres the latest test.

    normal profile, slowed down to 80%



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    Posted · +3 years old ultimaker, more n more airprinting.. - solved


    just wanted to add that my extruder looked even worse after only one year of use. it was mostly due to the fact that i had assembled it wrong somehow and only found out a few weeks ago.

    i had even worse abrasive effect, but i came to the same solution as you did and everything turned out fine ( at least until my board decided to die :(

    now i am questioning how many life hours the average ultimaker has until you have to replace most of it ...

    but a few months ago i was in contact with gregor luetolf who runs the blog http://www.3drucken.ch/ and owns at least one 'very old' ultimaker and is posting about the trouble he has due to age related issues ...

    he is a very nice guy and maybe he has some tips how to treat a heavily used ultimaker

    good luck


    p.s.: if you have trouble with german, this is his contact info




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    Posted · +3 years old ultimaker, more n more airprinting.. - solved

    Maybe try checking your nozzle, both inside and outside... I saw a post somewhere of a super macro shot of a nozzle tip that had been beaten up quite badly, a little chunk had been chipped off etc.

    The guy who posted it had then sanded/polished it back down for a nice even round nozzle exit hole and it had improved his print quality significantly... Alternatively you could try buying a new nozzle somewhere, they aren't that expensive...


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    Posted · +3 years old ultimaker, more n more airprinting.. - solved

    I've been having similar problems lately too on my printer which is also 3+ years old (from the first shipping batch)... I have done all of the upgrades but I think the problem is with my nozzle. Extrusion through the nozzle into air seems too thin and inconsistent. I switched to the second nozzle in my dual extruder system and printed fine from there so I'm pretty sure something is either corroded or partially blocking the main nozzle.

    I've cleaned it with a wire and pulled the head apart as much as I could, but I wasn't able to actually remove the nozzle. It's stuck on there good.... No matter what I do I've not been able to actually unscrew the nozzle. I've heated it up to 250 and tried with wrenches and pliers to the point where i've just rounded off the hex shape on the nozzle. I'm thinking of just taking the whole hot-end assembly off and ordering a new one. Perhaps I might move my 2nd hotend over to the main position since I hardly ever do dual colour prints anyway, then I can order another hotend at some point later.




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    Posted · +3 years old ultimaker, more n more airprinting.. - solved

    does anybody know how long exactly the extusion-button extrudes filament? looks like like 5mm but nothing is safe. its not written anywhere.

    i would like to recalibrate my esteps.. due the wear.

    looks like i cant do this with cura anymore.

    also its very unconvenient that in cura machine settings ther is a Default"0" instead of the actual E-steps per mm.. i cant do the math without..


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    Posted · +3 years old ultimaker, more n more airprinting.. - solved

    You need pronterface - it's a wonderful GUI utility that will connect to your ultimaker through USB and allow you to do all kinds of things for example move the extruder exactly 10mm at 10mm/sec. Or whatever you want. It's all very simple.

    printrun/pronterface download:




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    Posted · +3 years old ultimaker, more n more airprinting.. - solved

    So your problem with extrusion looks pretty good to me - the print you did at 80% looks fine to me. So does that mean you are all set? If you want to get another 20% speed increase you can probably just raise the temp by 10C or 20C.

    Is it possible that your problem was simply a change of filament that needed a different melting temperature? You said the gray filament is brand new so this might be the problem - maybe you just need hotter temperature.

    However if you are able to get your nozzle off, I would recommend heating it over a flame (not too hot) until everything inside turns to carbon and can be cleaned out with a paperclip on the inside.


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    Posted · +3 years old ultimaker, more n more airprinting.. - solved


    thx to all helpers.

    a more precise inspection with magnifing glass showed light damage on nozzle tip and build up of hard plastic residue.

    cleaning with some strands of copper wire and grinding the tip with 800grit paper (in hot condition)

    now it prints like a new nozzle again. :)

    I think we should put some development in a good and easy practice to swap nozzles.

    I like the JHead principle.. but theres still room for improvement.

    This way we could dedicate nozzles to specific materials (nylon, Abs, PLA...)

    Nozzle cloggs are now minimized to a single material and thereby we could introduce use a fitting simple cleaning procedure per material.

    (like solvents, heat, ultrasonic, mechanical..)

    next i am trying to get the "chess" hotend from 2engineers.com to work.

    a flyhead design is in printing process.


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