We can all agree that 3D printers are complex machines, with many moving parts coming together and working seamlessly to make the magic of 3D printing possible in the comfort of our own homes.
Unfortunately, as complexity increases, so does the possibility of issues occurring, as even a single part that does not work as intended can cause the entire printing process to fail and prevent the printer from operating until the appropriate solution is approved.
Today, our topic is a critical issue that can entirely prevent the Ender 3 from conducting the printing process, where the printer, for unknown reasons, does not extrude any filament at all and moves the printhead around without printing anything.
So, what can cause your Ender 3 (V2/Pro) not to extrude any filament at all?
As there can be a few different culprits behind your Ender 3 not extruding any filament, we have listed the most common reasons below:
- The nozzle is entirely blocked.
- The nozzle is way too close to the build plate.
- The extruder stepper motor isn’t functioning as intended.
- The extruder gears aren’t working as intended.
- The extruder tension is way too low or high.
- The Bowden tube is loose or damaged.
In the following sections, we will go into the reasons that can prevent the Ender 3 from extruding in more detail, find out what we can do to fix this issue, and take a quick look at the process of triggering a manual extrusion, which can act as a solution at times.
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Why Is My Ender 3 (V2/Pro) Not Extruding?
Finding the culprit behind the issue of Ender 3 not extruding any plastic is a slightly complicated one, as there are a few different factors that can cause this problem to appear on your printer and prevent you from printing.
Below, you will find the most common reasons that can prevent your Ender 3 from extruding filaments, alongside detailed descriptions that we believe will be helpful to pinpoint the problem in your case.
- Clogged nozzle – A clogged nozzle does not require a lot of explanation, as it’s the most straightforward culprit that will prevent your Ender 3 from extruding any filament due to the filament not having any space to go out. In this case, the filament should be moving through the Bowden tube and eventually get stuck at the tip of the hot end.
- Nozzle too close to the build plate – The nozzle being way too close to the build plate also leaves no room for the filament to come out in a similar way to a clogged nozzle does, where the filament should once again be moving through the Bowden tube until it has no space left.
- Extruder stepper motor not functioning correctly – The extruder stepper motor is the driving force behind the movement of the filament, and without it working correctly, there isn’t anything that can facilitate the movement of the filament to the hotend assembly. A misfunctioning extruder stepper motor usually makes clicking sounds that signify something is wrong.
- Extruder gears not working correctly – As the extruder gears are directly responsible for moving the filament forward, loose or worn-out gears can prevent the filament from moving down to the nozzle due to them not being able to spin correctly.
- Extruder tension set incorrectly – A too low extruder tension will prevent the extruder gears from gripping and moving the filament down, whereas a too high extruder tension can cause the extruder gears to crush the filament inside the extruder assembly entirely.
- Loose or damaged Bowden tube – A loose or damaged Bowden tube will create gaps that prevent the filament from moving the tube correctly, meaning that the filament will never reach the hot end assembly as a result.
While rare, issues on the software side of things, such as incorrect retraction settings or a problem with the firmware, can also be the culprit at times, which is something to keep in mind if you haven’t been able to isolate the problem.
How to Fix the Issue of Ender 3 (V2/Pro) Not Extruding?
Fixing the problem of the Ender 3 not extruding plastic is no straightforward task due to the possibility of many things causing it, but in most cases, following a checklist that involves most of the common factors that can cause such a problem does the trick.
Below is a step-by-step guide we recommend following to fix the issue of Ender 3 not extruding, which includes the majority of the culprits that can be behind this problem:
- Unclog the nozzle of your Ender 3. As you will most likely be facing a complete clog, removing the nozzle from the extruder and ensuring that you fully unblock it is the best way to move forward and rule out the possibility of a clogged nozzle.
- Re-configure the Z offset value. For the purposes of testing, you can quickly bring the Z offset value to a point where there is plenty of space between the extruder and the build plate, which will allow you to rule out the possibility of the nozzle and the build plate being too close to each other.
- Maintain (or replace) the extruder gears of your Ender 3. Tightening and lubricating the gears is the first step we recommend, followed by replacing the gears.
- Re-calibrate the extruder tension of your Ender 3. To rule out the possibility of the extruder tension being the problem, we recommend manually extruding filament with a few different tension configurations on the tighter and the looser sides.
- Re-insert (or replace) the Bowden tube of your Ender 3. There should be no gaps (it should sit tightly) when you connect the Bowden tube and no damage that can introduce such gaps.
- Maintain (or replace) the extruder stepper motor of your Ender 3. Replacing the wiring and the connectors is the first thing to do, followed by replacing the stepper motor driver and the stepper motor itself.
We highly recommend running a test print after applying each fix to find out whether the solution you have employed has worked or not.
How to Trigger a Manual Extrusion on the Ender 3 (V2/Pro)?
A manual extrusion is a process where you can instruct the Ender 3 to extrude plastic through the menu without initiating a printing process, which acts as a handy tool in a situation where the printer stops extruding plastic for reasons unknown.
Here is a step-by-step guide you can use to extrude filament on your Ender 3 manually:
- Heat the hot end to the printing temperature of the filament you will be using.
- On the interface of the Ender 3, navigate to the Prepare, Move Axis, and Extruder menus, respectively.
- Select the Move 10mm option from the Extruder menu, which should extrude 10 mm of plastic under ordinary circumstances.
In the case where the filament does not come out of the printer after the third step, we recommend using the Move 10mm option a few more times to be on the safe side.
If you wish, you can also use the more manual methods of either removing the Bowden tube and pushing the filament down the extruder or utilizing an extruder knob to get the filament down, which can be helpful to diagnose extrusion problems in different ways.
Noticing that your Ender 3 is not extruding filament can definitely be frustrating, but in most cases, this problem has a solution you can apply yourself with enough time and effort to get your 3D printer back in working condition.
To quickly recap, the primary culprits that can cause your Ender 3 not to extrude any filament are primarily related to the nozzle and the extruder assembly, as these parts are in direct charge of the filament flowing out of the 3D printer.
In the case of the nozzle, a simple blockage or the nozzle getting way too close to the build plate not leaving any space for the filament to come out can prevent any filament from coming out at all, even if nothing else is wrong with your 3D printer.
On the other hand, while issues with the extruder assembly are more complex, such as the extruder motor or the extruder gears not being able to push the filament down due to various reasons, simple factors such as the extruder tension being set incorrectly or the Bowden tube not being tightly sealed can also be behind the issue of your Ender 3 not extruding any filament.
Mike started his 3D printing journey with the Anet A8 when it first came out back in 2017, and has been obsessed with 3D printers ever since. Nowadays, he primarily uses his Ender 3 to print functional parts that make his life more convenient whenever possible.