3D Printer Troubleshooting Issues

FAQ

 

Our user manuals are filled with tips and tricks to run your 3D printers and are explained more in detail below. You can find our manuals here.

 

Three most common problems:

1. Prints are not sticking/can't see the complete first layers of filament

The most common issues with 3D printing have to do with the calibration of the buildplate. We recommend checking the build surface before moving on to other steps. Level your NWA3D A5 using this video or your NWA3D A31 with this video.

 

2. Filament is not coming out of the 3D printer

Check out this filament video on how to remove, load, and clear filament clogs.

 

3. Cura has the wrong settings

Check out this video on how to setup Cura 3.2 for the NWA3D A5 and this video to set it up for the NWA3D A31.

 

 

Troubleshooting 3D Printers

This section covers the most common printing problems and how to fix them. Because 3D printing is still an emerging technology, a small level of tinkering and troubleshooting is needed. But if this section doesn’t solve your printing problems, then contact us by filling out the Troubleshooting Request on our website. We’re here to help you every step of the way to get you 3D printing!

 

Step-by-Step Troubleshooting

Step 1: Diagnose the problem.
This may seem obvious, but many problems can be solved if you take a step back and see exactly what the printer is doing incorrectly.

Step 2: Determine if the problem is mechanical or digital.

  • Mechanical problems are in the actual operation of the printer, such as the motors that drive the X, Y, and Z axes, the motor that pushes the filament, the nozzle heater, and the level of the build plate. The most common mechanical problems are caused by a build plate that is not adjusted correctly, a clogged nozzle, or an unplugged connector on a motor or limit switch.
  • Digital problems are in the slice file that you prepare in Cura or other slicing program. Important slice file settings include layer height, print (nozzle) temperature, and print speed.  

Step 3: Fix the problem.
Once you’ve discovered what the actual problem is, you can fix it with the following procedures. (If none of these fix the problem, contact us!)

 

Mechanical problem #1: Leveling the build plate

Video Tutorials: Level your NWA3D A5 using this video or your NWA3D A31 with this video

If the nozzle is digging into the build plate or is so close that no filament can extrude, you’ll know the build plate is too close.

If your print looks like spaghetti or the nozzle knocked the model off of the build plate, then you’ll know the build plate is too far away.

Many of the failures in 3D printing are caused by a build plate that is not level or is not the correct distance from the nozzle. See the section “Leveling the Build Plate” in the manual.
   

 

Mechanical problem #2: Filament is not coming out of the nozzle

Video Tutorial: How to remove clogs, load, and change filament

When filament is not coming out of the nozzle, the nozzle may be clogged. You have three good options for clearing a clogged nozzle:

  1. You can pull the clog out of the nozzle using the “soft pull” method.
  2. You can “floss” the clog out of the nozzle using a nozzle cleaner.
  3. You can heat the nozzle and push the clog through the nozzle. 

Pro Tip #1: Do NOT remove the nozzle or disassemble the hot end of the printer when you have a clog. Instead, try these three options. If they don’t fix the problem, complete a troubleshooting request and our Service Team will help you.

Pro Tip #2: Never leave your printer nozzle at build temperature (220°C) while the printer is idle. The melted plastic remaining in the nozzle will “bake” onto the nozzle and become a hard carbon blockage.


1. Try to pull the clog out of the nozzle using the “soft pull” method:

  • Turn the machine on, select Setup > Preheat soft pull, and wait until the temperature reaches 100°C.
  • When the nozzle temperature stabilizes at 100°C, squeeze the extruder release lever with one hand and pull the filament out of the extruder with your other hand with a steady, even force.
  • Inspect the end of the filament. If the end of the filament has the shape of interior of the nozzle—a thicker cone-shaped plug—you have successfully pulled all of the filament out of the nozzle, including the clog.
  • If the clog did not clear using the “soft pull” method, clip the melted end of the filament off, reload it, and select Setup > Cooldown and wait five minutes for the hot end to cool down. Then repeat the soft pull process.

Pro Tip: Every time you change filament on your 3D printer, remove the filament with the nozzle at around 100°C. This “soft pull” method usually removes all the old color of filament from the hot end, so when you begin printing again, the new color will begin printing immediately.

 2. Use a nozzle cleaner to clear the nozzle:

  1. Remove the filament using the “soft pull” method.
  2. Select Setup > Preheat PLA. Wait for the nozzle to reach the set temperature of 220°C for PLA.
  3. Raise the Z axis carriage by selecting Controls > Move axis > Move 1mm > Move Z and spinning the knob. (You can also manually rotate the leadscrew to move the gantry up.)
  4. When the nozzle has reached 220°C, use pliers to carefully insert the nozzle cleaner up into the tip of the nozzle. IT IS VERY HOT, SO BE CAREFUL NOT TO BURN YOURSELF!
  5. Squeeze the extruder release lever with one hand and push the filament into the extruder manually.
  6. Alternate “flossing” with the nozzle cleaner and pushing the filament through the extruder until a consistent bead of filament is extruded through the nozzle.

3. Try to push the clog through the nozzle:

  1. Select Setup > Preheat PLA. Wait for the nozzle to reach the set temperature of 220°C for PLA.
  2. When the nozzle has reached 220°C, squeeze the extruder release lever and load the filament. When the filament would normally stop, keep pushing to manually push the filament out of the hot end nozzle of the extruder assembly.
  3. Watch the filament to ensure it is not curling as it comes out of the nozzle. After pushing several inches of filament through, it should be going relatively straight. If it isn’t, turn off the printer and do another soft pull (step a).

 

Digital problems: Slicer settings

Video Tutorials: Check out this video on how to setup Cura 3.2 for the NWA3D A5 and this video to set it up for the NWA3D A31.


Sometimes, models don’t print correctly because the settings in the G-Code are wrong. Here are some steps to make sure your Cura settings are correct.  

    1. Check your slice file in Cura. Make sure the print is centered in the build area, is making good contact with the build surface, and isn’t too big for the build envelope.
    2. Check the slice settings.
      • Make sure that the layer height is between 0.1mm (high-quality prints) and 0.3mm (low-quality prints).
      • Check the speed and temperature. For PLA, they should be set to 30–50mm/s and 220°C.
      • Make sure the filament diameter is 1.75mm and the flow rate is 100%.
      • Make sure the Heated bed checkbox is unchecked in the Machine settings window (the NWA3D A5 does not have a heated bed). To view the Machine settings window, select Settings > Printer > Manage printers …, then click the Machine Settings button in the popup window.
      • Check the Fill Density (infill) and make sure it is at least 5%. You may need to adjust this value to your liking for your model.
      • Refer back to the “Operation” section of this manual for other slicer settings and to better understand Cura.
    3. Your part may need supports. If it’s rounded you may need to select “Everywhere” for the support type. If it’s intricate, it may need to select “Raft” for the Build Plate Adhesion Type. (A raft is a hatch pattern on the build plate that the model will print on.) If the part warps when you begin to build it, you may need to select the “Brim” adhesion type and reslice the file. (A brim will help the part stick so it doesn’t curl up at the edges.)
    4. If you think your slice settings are really messed up, try re-loading the file “NWA3D A5 Printer Profile.curaprofile” from the microSD card. The profile will restore the slicer settings to a medium-quality profile that will work well. Click Settings > Profile > Manage profiles. In the Profiles Preferences window, click on the Import button, navigate to the printer profile “NWA3D A5 Printer Profile.curaprofile” that came on the microSD card in the Cura folder, and open it. Your slice and build parameters are now reset to our default settings for the NWA3D A5.

 

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