Even though they usually aren’t the point of discussion, there are some routine tasks that one has to perform in 3D printing for a successful print, whether it’s ensuring that the nozzle of the 3D printer is clean before starting a print or that there is enough filament in the spool for the upcoming print.
While these routine procedures are often a lot more straightforward in nature compared to the more advanced parts of 3D printing, they can still cause some trouble and negatively affect your prints when conducted incorrectly, making it vital to have a good grasp of the fundamentals for success.
In today’s article, we will be talking about the correct way of loading filament into the Ender 3, in specific, which is a task that you will need to perform frequently, whether it’s because the spool you’re currently using has run out or you would like to switch to a different type of filament for your upcoming print.
So, how can you load filament into the Ender 3?
To load the filament into your Ender 3, all you will need to do is to sharpen the tip of the filament by cutting it at an angle to allow it to go through the hole on the extruder more smoothly, hold the extruder arm down, and finally, feed the filament through the extruder hole until you feel tension.
Next up, we will be taking a deeper dive into the processes of loading filament into the Ender 3, unloading filament from the Ender 3, and changing the filament of the Ender 3 during the print, find out how to purge old filament from the nozzle, and finally, take a glance at a G-code command that you can use for the purposes of changing filament.
How to Load Filament Into the Ender 3 (Pro/V2)?
Even though loading filament into your 3D printer is a fairly straightforward task, especially considering that it’s one you will have to perform regularly, doing it the correct way will ensure that you don’t face any issues down the road.
Below, you can find a detailed step-by-step guide that outlines the process of loading filament into the Ender 3:
- Cut the tip of the filament at an angle with a tool such as a wire cutter or scissors. This process will sharpen the tip of the filament, making it easier to push the filament through the hole in the extruder.
- Preheat the nozzle to the temperature that is optimal for the filament you will be loading. You can conduct this process through the LCD controller of your Ender 3 by using one of the preheat presets such as “Preheat PLA”.
- Place the filament spool on the spool holder while waiting for your Ender 3 to preheat.
- Push the extruder arm down and keep it held in the depressed position. This process will pull the idler wheel away from the extruder gear, creating enough room for you to push the filament through.
- Push the filament through the hole in the extruder until you feel tension or until the filament comes out of the nozzle.
If you have an Ender 3 V2, you will notice that an extruder knob is installed by default, which you can turn counter-clockwise to push the filament in.
Once you’re done with the last step, you can let go of the extruder arm, at which point your new filament spool should be ready to use.
How to Unload Filament From the Ender 3 (Pro/V2)?
Similar to the process of loading the filament, unloading the filament is also a process in itself that you will need to perform before you remove the current filament spool from its position and attach the new one that you intend on using.
To correctly unload filament from the Ender 3, we recommend following the steps that we have listed below:
- Preheat the nozzle to the temperature that is optimal for printing with the filament you’re unloading. You can either navigate to Control -> Temperature -> Nozzle to set the temperature manually or utilize one of the preheating presets.
- Wait for the hotend to reach the intended temperature.
- Push the extruder arm down and keep it held. This process will release the extruder’s grip on the filament and allow you to pull it out freely.
- Gently pull the filament out of the extruder, and remove the filament spool.
If you have an Ender 3 V2, you will notice that an extruder knob is installed by default, which you can turn clockwise to pull the filament out.
How to Change Ender 3 (Pro/V2) Filament During the Print?
In some cases, it can be necessary to change the filament during the print for reasons such as wanting to use a different color or the currently attached filament running out, where it becomes vital to follow the procedure correctly not to disrupt the printing process.
Below, you can find the steps we recommend following to change the filament of your Ender 3 mid-print:
- Pause the 3D printing process by invoking the Pause Print command through the LCD controller. Then, wait for the Ender 3 to move the printhead away from the print area and come to a complete pause.
- Unload the old filament. You can refer to the section above for detailed steps on how to conduct this process correctly.
- Load the new filament. You can refer to the first section of the article to learn more about the correct way of loading filament into the Ender 3.
- Resume the 3D printing process by invoking the Resume Print command through the LCD controller. The Resume Print command should be located where the Pause Print command was.
- Wait for the Ender 3 to purge the old filament. If you believe that there is more filament that requires to be purged, you can choose the Purge More option from the menu that appears after the initial purge is over.
- Click the Continue option. The 3D printing process should continue from where it left off after this step.
In cases where you know that you will be changing the filament mid-print (such as switching to a differently-colored filament), our recommendation would be to utilize the “Pause at height” or “Filament change” scripts in Cura, which will allow you to specify the exact height or layer number where you want the filament change to occur, and automatically pause the print at that point.
How to Purge Old Filament From the Nozzle of the Ender 3 (Pro/V2)?
When switching filament, it’s natural for some of the old filament to remain on the nozzle, which you would often want to avoid, such as in the scenario of loading a differently colored filament for the upcoming parts of your 3D printed model, where you wouldn’t want the previous color to mix in.
You can follow the steps below to quickly purge old filament from the nozzle of your Ender 3 and get the hotend ready to extrude the new filament you have loaded:
- Preheat the nozzle to the temperature that is optimal for printing with the currently loaded filament.
- Navigate to the Prepare section of the Ender 3 menu with the LCD controller.
- Navigate to the Move Axis sub-section located within the Prepare section.
- Choose the Extruder option from the list.
- Choose either the Move 10mm or the Move 1mm option.
- Extrude plastic until the color of the filament that comes out of the nozzle matches the color of the newly-loaded filament.
For good measure, we would recommend extruding a bit more (~10mm) after you see the new color and ensuring that there are absolutely no traces left of the old filament.
Using the Marlin Filament Change G-Code (M600) for Changing Ender 3 (Pro/V2) Filament
Aside from using the LCD controller on your Ender 3 and going through the process manually, it’s also possible to use the G-code command that Marlin offers to switch the filament, which can come in quite handy as it automates a considerable portion of the task.
To change the filament with the Marlin filament change G-code, all you will need to do is to invoke the M600 G-code command at the point where you would like your Ender 3 to initiate the filament change procedure.
The primary portion of the filament change procedure will involve the 3D printing process being paused, the printhead moving away from the print, the old filament getting ejected, and the Ender 3 waiting until new filament is inserted and confirmed through the controller, at which point you can remove the old filament and insert the new one.
After you load the new filament and give the go-ahead through the LCD controller, your Ender 3 will automatically load and prime the filament and then continue the 3D printing process with the new spool from the point it left off.
As loading and unloading the filament and swapping the filament in the middle of a print are procedures that you will need to conduct frequently in your 3D printing journey, having a good grasp of the best practices will ensure that you don’t face any issues related to these routine tasks.
To quickly recap, loading filament into the Ender 3 is as straightforward as preparing the tip for smooth passage by cutting it at an angle, pushing the extruder arm, and guiding the filament through the hole on the extruder (while you still hold the extruder arm) until you feel some resistance.
Considering that the processes of unloading the filament, purging old filament, and initiating a filament change mid-print aren’t technically complex by any means either and only require some getting used to, you should be able to perfect the techniques in no time.
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.