How to clean the system if you can't unload material from the feeder

In some cases, the feeder of your Ultimaker 3D printer may not be able to retract the material using the guided 'Unload material' procedures. This can be the case after severe grinding, or when the filament has run out completely.

The knurled wheel of the feeder will not have sufficient or any grip on the material, or the material has already passed above the knurled wheel. When selecting 'Unload' the feeder will spin, but the material will not move.

Read the tips on this page to successfully remove the material from the Bowden tube and feeder.

Grinding

If there is still material left on the spool but it will not unload, it is likely that there was a problem with material grinding. Grinding of the material usually occurs either because of a blockage in the hot end, or when the material is stuck on the spool.

Removing the material is usually quite simple. During the unload material procedure, gently pull the filament below the feeder. Once the ground part has passed the feeder's knurled wheel, it will properly unload.

Alternatively, relieve the tension of the knurled wheel by lifting up the feeder lever. On the Ultimaker S3 and Ultimaker S5, flip the lever upwards completely. On the Ultimaker 2+ and Ultimaker 3, firmly push the lever upwards. Then, manually pull out the material.

Grinding.jpeg UM3-Remove-stuck-material.jfif
An example of material grinding Relieving the feeder tension

Tip: When pulling out the material manually without following the unloading process, ensure that the print core or nozzle is heated up, or the material will remain stuck in the print head. In the menu of your Ultimaker 3D printer, increase the nozzle temperature to the printing temperature appropriate for the loaded material type.

After the material has been successfully removed, it is strongly recommended to clean the printer before starting your next print. Some powdered material may remain in the feeder and Bowden tube, and it is likely that the hot end is blocked.

Clean the Bowden tube Disconnect the Bowden tube from the print head and the feeder. Take a small piece of sponge or tissue and insert it into one end of the Bowden tube. Push it through completely using a length of filament. Learn more here.
Clean the feeder Thoroughly clean the feeder by opening it up. You only need to remove the front part of the housing. Remove the filament debris using air or a brush and reassemble the feeder.
Clean the hot end Clear any blockages in the nozzle or print core using the hot and cold pull procedure. Follow the guided procedure or set the temperatures manually.

Tip: For more detailed advice, check the maintenance pages for your printer type.

End of filament

If the material has broken off or has run out completely, removing the material from the Bowden tube requires some disassembly. Follow the steps below:

Ultimaker 2+: Maintenance - Advanced - Set nozzle temperature
Ultimaker 3: Material/PrintCore - Printcore [1/2] - Set temperature
S-line: Configuration - Print core [1/2] - Set temperature
Ultimaker 2+ Connect: Maintenance - Set nozzle temperature
Clamp-clip-Feeder.jpg
1. Increase nozzle temperature 2. Remove clamp clip

In the menu of your printer, increase the temperature of the nozzle or print core. Choose the printing temperature for the loaded material type.

 

At the back of the printer, remove the clamp clip from around the tube coupling collet in the feeder.

 

Bowden-into-feeder.jpg Remove-stuck-material.jpg
3. Remove Bowden tube 4. Pull out filament

Press down on the tube coupling collet and pull the Bowden tube out of the feeder. If the Bowden tube cannot be removed from the feeder easily, lift up the lever at the side to release the pressure and try pulling out the Bowden tube again.

 

A short piece of filament will stick out of the Bowden tube that you have just removed. Grab it with pliers and pull firmly to remove the material from the print head and Bowden tube.

 

Bowden-into-feeder.jpg  
5. Insert Bowden tube  

Insert the Bowden tube into the feeder again and secure it with the clamp clip.

 

 

After following the steps to remove the broken filament, you can reset the nozzle temperature back to 0 ºC again via the menu, proceed directly to loading a new filament spool, or clean the hot end.

Note: It is strongly recommended to clean the nozzle or print core after a failed print. If the material has been stuck inside the nozzle or print core for a while without extruding this can cause blockages.

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