Clogged Hot End – What to do?

A clogged hot end will unavoidably be an issue that needs immediate care and this article will help you diagnose and solve the problem. Unlike many other issues, a clogged hot end will not only impair the quality of your prints, but most likely your ability to print at all. We will cover the main reasons for clogged hot end and explains how you can resolve it in no time.

Reason for Clogs

  • Excessive extruder temperature

When using PLA, the optimal extrusion temperature can be anywhere between 160 and 220 degrees Celsius. Extruding at too low of a temperature will most likely result in no extrusion at all, but the opposite can be dramatic. In fact, if you try to extrude at too high of a temperatures for the given material, your filament could simply vitrify in your extruder and clog it.

vit•ri•fy: To change or make into glass or a glassy substance, especially through heat fusion.

Vitrification is a process causing the PLA or other types of plastic to become extremely hard and clogs the hotend. The same goes for ABS, Nylon, PVA, etc.

  • Dust and Debris Adding Up Inside the Hot End Chamber

After several prints it’s often the case where dust that came in with the filament and other debris is starting to clog the extruder. These debris can stick to the inner walls of your extruder and restrict the flow of plastic eventually leading to a clog.

Steps by step resolution

Resolving the issue is simple but requires appropriate tooling. You will need a small drill bit < 0.35 mm or anything else that can solidly serve as a drill bit small enough to enter the hole of your extruder. A member of our forum recommended using a .33mm guitar string which can be easily found in music stores. Another alternative is to use the leg of a resistor or a LED that is thin enough to fit inside the hotend nozzle.

drill-extruder2

  1. Pull out any remaining filament from the hotend
  2. Heat your extruder to the optimal temperature for the given material
  3. Insert the small drill bit and clean the residues with a sweeping motion (be careful not to break your drill bit or small object!)

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You can now get back to printing! For more help, don’t hesitate to contact us!

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