We Are Learning 3D Printing Through Our Personal Experience…
Last week we were having a weird issue with our MakerBot 2 Replicator 3D printer that was stopping to extrude filament properly ater 5 to 10 millimeters from the height of a print is normally printed, resulting in a failed attempt to print the object. The filament was just stopping to extrude properly or completely and we’ve had to unload and load it again to resume normal operation. It was not like a standard filament jam that requires the disassembly of the extruder to clean a filament jam. We have started to check the usual suspects that might be a cause of filament jams such as improper leveling of the build plate, problems with the heating temperature of the extruder, worn off nozzle, the filament guide mechanism and motor and so on. None of this however made any difference and we were still having failed prints regardless if it was a simple or more complex model, we have even tried using various filaments to exclude a possible issue with the PLA filament we’ve been using from MakerBot.
Changing the filament did not help at first as we were changing complete spools, but once we’ve tried a few short samples of various filaments that were 10-15 meters and not on spool we got a hint of another unexpected possible issue. Using a shorter filament wrap for a test print we did not get it through the teflon filament guide tube that we use normally with the filament spools and surprisingly we’ve had no trouble with the filament stopping to extrude properly anymore and no failed prints. But bringing back a spool with filament that goes through the filament tube and the prints started failing again, so apparently the Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) guide tube was causing the problems with the print. We did not expect that to be the cause as there were no visual or any other kind of signs that something is wrong with the filament guide tube. After all the idea of this filament guide tube is to make the feeding of filament easier and more problem free, but apparently it also can wear off over the course of few months of usage and starting to cause issues. Since we did not expect the tube to be the cause of the problem we were having it took us some time to rule out every other possibility that we considered first, but if you are having a similar issue you might want to temporary remove the teflon filament guide tube to see if it might turn out to be the culprit in your case.
Next time we’ll have another new thing to consider when we start having issues with failing prints, and we are already waiting to get a replacement PTFE filament guide tube to see how long will the new one work without starting to cause troubles like the original tube. We are also going to be looking out for some alternative ways for improving the filament guide on the MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer to make printing less problem free.