General Extrusion Troubleshooting

User: "Need help on the first print. filament not flowing freely. The 3D printer has not worked correctly since arrival. This device was purchased for a Middle School"


PB: I am assuming that you have already gone through all of the getting started materials at / / So, I apologize if this is a silly suggestion. Be sure that your filament is loaded properly. Sometimes new users are under their impression that the filament is loaded, but the have not lined it up properly with the hot end or pushed it down far enough. See more suggestions below the image...

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Check Software Settings. 

Be sure that your control software (Cura) settings match the components on your printer.  If you are using a stock/production Play/Simple/Plus, your settings should be as follows.

  • Diameter (mm) - 1.75mm
  • Flow (%) - 100 
  • Nozzle size (mm) - 0.4


Measure your filament with calipers. There is a certain degree of tolerance to the diameter of 1.75mm filament, but it should not be wider than 1.8mm in diameter.  If the filament is too thick, it will not travel freely through the hot end.  

Purge the hot end.  Before running a print, bring the hot end to ~220C. 220C is higher than you will likely want to print PLA, but it will help to melt any filament/clogs that may have collected in the nozzle. Once the hot end is heated up, give the command to extrude in your software. You should see a steady stream of filament as you give commands to extrude 10mm at a time. If not, compress the extruder arm and see if you can physically push filament through the extruder. See an example of this in Brook's startup video, about 4min in - click here to view the video.

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Spring Tension: Check the spring tension on your extruder. If the nut is too high, the tension is too great. This will keep the filament from traveling freely down into the hot end. If you hear a clicking sound from the extruder, use a phillips screwdriver to adjust the tension while extruding 10mm of filament at a time until the clicking subsides and the filament flows freely.  Keep in mind that you are looking for "the sweet spot".  If there is no tension at all on the extruder spring, the drive gear will not get any grip on the filament.

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