The magic of 3D printing is made possible by many components working in unison to create a complex machine capable of reading the data, interpreting it, sending the necessary signals to the corresponding parts based on the data, and finally, performing the mechanical motions to create the model.
Unfortunately, all this complexity can sometimes present itself in the form of problems, as even one component not being able to fulfill its duty can cause the 3D printer to become inoperational, and to make things worse, finding the component that’s causing the problem among so many others can be pretty challenging.
Today, we will be going into the issue of the Ender 5 not extruding any filament at all, in particular, which we consider to be a critical problem that requires fixing as quickly as possible since the absence of filament coming out of the nozzle makes it impossible to print any models.
So, what can cause your Ender 5 not to extrude any filament during the printing process?
Below, we have listed the most common factors that can cause your Ender 5 not to extrude any filament:
- Fully blocked nozzle
- Incorrect nozzle gap
- Extruder tension too high or too low
- Extruder gears not functioning as intended
- Loose or damaged Bowden (PTFE) tube
- Malfunctioning extruder stepper driver
- Inoperative extruder stepper motor
Next up, we will be going into all of the reasons that can cause your Ender 5 to not extrude in more detail to make the process of pinpointing the root cause more straightforward and go through the potential fixes that apply to their corresponding reasons.
Why Is My Ender 5 (Pro/Plus) Not Extruding?
As the extruder assembly is one of the most complex parts of the 3D printer, finding out exactly what’s preventing your Ender 5 from extruding filament will require you to go through many distinct components that could be behind the problem.
Here are the most common factors that can prevent your Ender 5 from extruding filament, along with descriptions that explain the reasoning:
- The nozzle is entirely blocked. Perhaps the most self-explanatory element on this list, the nozzle being entirely clogged means that the newly-extruded filament won’t be able to go through the nozzle and make it onto the build plate, creating a scenario where no filament comes out during the printing process. In this case, you should observe that the filament is moving through the Bowden tube as the chokepoint is the nozzle.
- The gap between the nozzle and the build plate is not sufficient. When the nozzle gets way too close to the build plate, there won’t be any space for the filament to come out, which will end up with it gathering inside the nozzle instead. Similar to a clogged nozzle, the filament should be moving smoothly through the Bowden tube in this case.
- The extruder tension is either too high or too low. The extruder tension determines the distance between the filament and the extruder gears responsible for moving the filament down. When the tension is too high, the gears will end up gripping the filament too tightly, which can either entirely stop the filament from moving down or come out in a chewed state. On the other hand, when the tension is too low, the gears won’t have a firm enough grip on the filament to move it down. In this case, you won’t see the filament go through the Bowden tube, as the chokepoint is the extruder assembly.
- The extruder gears are unable to move the filament down. Simple wear and tear can eventually prevent the extruder gears from spinning correctly, which will cause them to be unable to fulfill their duty of moving the filament down to the nozzle. If this is the case, you shouldn’t see any filament in the Bowden tube.
- The Bowden (PTFE) tube is damaged or loose. A loose or damaged Bowden tube can create gaps that prevent the filament from making its way to the hotend, which would end up with no filament being extruded during the print.
- The extruder stepper driver is malfunctioning. The stepper driver is responsible for controlling the stepper motor, meaning that without its existence, the stepper motor wouldn’t be able to perform the necessary rotations to bring the filament down to the nozzle. If this is the case, the stepper motor may behave erratically (unusual sounds) or be entirely powered off.
- The extruder stepper motor is not working as intended. Since the extruder stepper motor is entirely responsible for supplying the motion that allows the filament to travel from the extruder assembly to the hotend, a malfunction will stop the filament from moving. In this case, you may notice that the stepper motor has gone quiet or making clicking sounds that are out of the usual.
In rare cases, it’s also possible for the problem to be on the software side of things, such as an incorrectly set retraction distance that pulls the filament way too far back into the extruder, which we recommend taking a look at if you haven’t been able to find the culprit.
How to Fix the Issue of Ender 5 (Pro/Plus) Not Extruding?
Due to the many factors potentially involved in the issue of your Ender 5 not extruding any filament, finding and applying the correct fix won’t be a straightforward process, especially when combined with the fact that some solutions require deeper technical knowledge.
Below are the potential solutions we recommend applying to fix the issue of your Ender 5 not extruding any filament:
- Unclog the nozzle of your Ender 5. While there is a bit of work involved in the process, removing the nozzle from the extruder and giving it a thorough cleaning is the best way to unclog the nozzle entirely and eliminate any other factors that can contribute to a clog down the road.
- Ensure that the bed of your Ender 5 is correctly leveled. A correctly leveled bed is the first step in making sure that the nozzle gap stays consistent across different regions of the print area, eliminating the scenario of the filament not having enough space to come out during some parts of the print.
- Reconfigure the Z offset value as optimally as possible. The Z offset value directly determines the nozzle gap (provided that the bed is level). For testing purposes, you can set the Z offset value to leave a considerable space between the nozzle and the bed, which will allow you to rule out the possibility of the Z offset being the issue.
- Maintain (or replace) the extruder gears responsible for filament movement. While tightening and lubricating the extruder gears can sometimes be helpful, replacing them is often the best solution to rule out the possibility of them causing the problem.
- Recalibrate the extruder tension of your Ender 5. For this process, we recommend loosening the tensioner all the way down, slowly increasing it, and repeating this process while manually extruding some filament.
- Clean and reinsert (or replace) the Bowden tube of your Ender 5. Giving the Bowden tube a cleaning, checking for signs of damage, and ensuring that it sits tightly on both ends is all there is to do here. In the case of damage, we recommend replacing the tube.
- Test the extruder stepper driver. The most straightforward way to test the extruder stepper driver is to wire another motor to it (pick any from the X, Y, and Z-axis motors). If the newly connected motor works as intended, you can rule out the stepper driver being the problem. On the other hand, if the stepper driver is the problem, a mainboard replacement will most likely be necessary.
- Test the extruder stepper motor. To test the extruder stepper motor, start by removing the wire from the motor’s side. Afterward, remove the wire that goes into one of the motors that work correctly, and plug it into the extruder stepper motor instead. This way, you will be swapping the stepper and the wire that goes into the motor, leaving the motor to be the only constant. If the motor works as intended, you can rule it out. Else, a motor replacement may be necessary.
Remember to run a test print after each fix to find out whether the problem is solved and, if it is, which particular solution was helpful to resolve the issue, which will give you a better idea of what to look at in the case of a reoccurrence.
With a plethora of potential culprits behind it that make the solution process challenging, and combined with the fact that it prevents your 3D printer from operating until fixed, a scenario where your Ender 5 does not extrude any filament at all is definitely one of the least desirable things that can happen.
To quickly recap, the extruder assembly itself (extruder gears, extruder tensioner, Bowden tube), the extruder stepper driver and motor, a clogged nozzle, or something as simple as there not being enough space between the nozzle and the bed can all contribute to your Ender 5 not extruding filament.
As the list of culprits is relatively long and complex with many different parts involved, we highly recommend going through each potential factor carefully and thoroughly to ensure that you can eliminate it before moving on to the next one to avoid going in circles while trying to pinpoint the problem.
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.