3D Printers

3D Printer Maintenance

If you are looking for a guide to maintaining your FDM 3D Printers. You are at the right place.A well maintained 3D Printer is like a well maintained Car and vice versa. You can rely on it for consistency, reliability and it won’t upset you in crucial moments of your life.

If you really want to enhance your 3D Printer life, regular maintenance which would take your few mins would greatly improve your overall printer life, create consistent print quality products and avoid any unexpected shutdown for your 3D Printing Farm hence reducing the output of your operations overall.

Customers who neglect regular maintenance often have to face long hours of troubleshooting and eventually wait for weeks for procuring small parts from the OEM country.

Therefore at Grit3D we highly recommend all our customers to avoid postponing regular 3D Printer Maintenance for optimal performance of the 3D Printers and saving your precious time and energy

Preventive Maintenance

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” – Benjamin Franklin

“The preventive maintenance is basically a set of routine checks that increases the life of 3D printers as well as enable them to deliver consistent prints. Despite using branded printers and printing materials in the first place, few considerations shall also be made to ensure maximized output and minimized failure. Here a checklist is formulated and planned to ease the process of preventive maintenance so that a 3D printer user can implement it in the printing routine.

Yearly (Recommended*)


Changing type of material, Clean nozzle
Removing build plate, do Bed Leveling
Moving printer, do Bed Leveling

General Cleaning

Why is it critical?
  • Dust particles and other substances may gather on built plate, guides, belts, threads, etc which may result in jamming the moving parts and eventually wearing the parts
  • Dust and other particles may flew-in during printing in the molten material, reducing the quality of print
What to do?
  • Use blower to remove the particles or parts that don’t belong to your 3D printer
  • Use IPA and cloth to clean the build plate
  • Use a soft brush to remove dust from areas around the build plate and around the mechanical parts

Bed Leveling

Why is it critical?
  • Improperly leveled bed may result in warping in printed part as well as misaligned layers
  • If the nozzle is too close to build plate, it may leave scratches or dents on the surface
  • Bed adhesion will be highly compromised with an improperly leveled bed
What to do?
  • Make sure that the leveling screws are tight at all times
  • Few printers like Ultimaker have the option of assisted bed leveling where the nozzle moves at different positions and allows users to insert paper and confirm the distance between nozzle and build plate
    • If there is little or no resistance on paper, the leveling screws need to loosen so that the bed moves up; in-turn adding the resistance to paper
    • Check and match the distance/ resistance using paper at different given points
  • To check bed-leveling on non-assisted leveling printers
    • Select ‘Auto-home’ option from Motion or Control menu from the GUI
    • Select ‘Disable Steppers’ to allow manual movement of printhead
    • Manually move the printhead on all quadrants of the build plate one by one and follow steps a & b

Belts Tensioning

Why is it critical?
  • Loose belts may result in missing the motor steps which will lead to inaccuracy in prints
  • Belts may go off the pulley or fixtures resulting in complete printing failure as well as high chances of accident
  • If the belts are too much tight, they will exert additional load on mechanical parts
What to do?
  • Tension in belts can be checked by examining the suspended area of the belt. If the belts freely press against each other or against any of the nearby surfaces, it is evident that belts are loose
  • To tighten the belts, loosen the screw/bolt holding the pulleys to free up the respective belt. Pull and hold the pulley until the belt seems adequately tight then tighten the pulley bolts

Axis & Fixtures Checking

Why is it critical?
  • If any axis is misaligned, it will result in inaccuracy in prints. Moreover, it will exert excessive force on other mechanical parts resulting in wear and tear and eventually failing of parts
  • Since the 3D printer consists of numerous mechanical parts, all fixtures and bolts need to be fastened properly. Each loose bolt can lead to a series of errors which can eventually cause big losses
What to do?
  • For axis correction and alignment in the single lead screw axis, the distance from printer pillar to screw is measured and matched at different positions along the length of lead screw. If the difference in dimensions is greater than 1 mm, the lead screw should be changed
  • For axis alignment in dual lead screw axis, vertical distance of both lead screws is also matched to be on the same level. The rest is the same as for the single lead screw axis.
  • Tighten and check all the bolts so that no fixture is left vulnerable


Why is it critical?
  • Mechanical parts like lead screws, pulleys and guide rails, if not lubricated properly can lead to serious results such as excessive heat due to friction, surface defects due to wearing and even failure of parts
  • If there is resistance due to friction, the motion and accuracy of prints may also be compromised
  • Non-lubricated parts also produce unpleasant noise
What to do?
  • Apply high temperature and high quality grease on lead screws
  • Apply machine oil on rails, guides and pulleys

Printing Calibration

Why is it critical?
  • If printing is not periodically calibrated and checked, it may result in failed print jobs and prints with surface defects and dimensional inaccuracy. Bad quality prints may result in excessive loss of printing material due to re-printing, may also lead to errors carried forward if it is a functional part or may lose you customers in the longer run if you’re a service provider
What to do?
  • There are various printing calibration files available on Thingiverse free to download. These different test prints let you examine the capabilities of your printer like arch formation, bridging, sharp corners, extrusion density, etc so that corrective measures can be timely taken

Extruder Cleaning

Why is it critical?
  • The brass gear on the extruder is deposited with filament residual on passing time. If the extruder is not cleaned timely, the filament residual can pile up in the gear to stop filament flow; eventually failing the print
What to do?
  • After removing filament, using a wire brush the brass gear can be cleaned so that the residual filament is removed

Change Nozzle

Why is it critical?
  • As nozzles are used with abrasive materials such as ABS and undergo high amounts of friction and stresses, the material of the nozzle wears out and deteriorates with passing time.
  • The nozzle hole also increases its diameter due to excessive abrasion in nozzle material, which leads to inaccuracy in prints.
What to do?
  1. Heat up the nozzle at the melting temperature of the material for which it was used like 205℃ for PLA and 245℃ for ABS so that the material clogged in the threads and areas inside and around the nozzle gets melted; clearing the passage to remove the nozzle.
  2. Use the spanner provided by the manufacturer to unscrew the nozzle from the printhead.
  3. Clean the threads and other areas of the heater.
  4. Fix the new nozzle in its position (Always use branded nozzles)

Clean Nozzle

Why is it critical?
  • Nozzles having clogged material inside tend to block the passage of material resulting in missing spots and layers in the print.
  • Material clogged inside or around the nozzle, if not cleaned, continuously burns resulting in a bad burning smell.
What to do?

Follow these instructions to perform a cold pull cleaning process on your nozzle.

  1. Heat up the nozzle up to frequently used material’s temperature
  2. Take a separate piece of filament to be used for cleaning.
  3. Once nozzle is heated, insert the filament piece and apply force until melted material starts coming out of nozzle
  4. Pull back the filament as it will pull up the dirt and material traces
  5. Repeat the process a few times until the pulled up filament returns without any traces of material or particles.

Change Filament Tube

Why is it critical?
  • Being close to filament heater at one end, the filament tube tends to burn and bend which jams the passage of filament
  • The quality of tube material deteriorates with respect to time which makes it prone to cracks and breakage
What to do?
  • Push the button in the tube socket to release the tube from both ends one by one.
  • Take the new tube and insert it into the socket until the socket clamps and bites it automatically.

Firmware Check & Upgrade

The printer manufacturers continuously test their software for bugs and issues and whenever there is any prominent issue, they release the firmware updates which can be installed on printers so they can become invulnerable to those known issues.

Why is it critical?
  • A lot of usability issues happen due to firmware bugs so it is necessary that firmware updates shall be checked and installed timely. So that we don’t get misled by observing usability issues in mechanical components only and end up screwing the components that didn’t actually have the issue.
What to do?

Follow these instructions to perform a cold pull cleaning process on your nozzle.

  • Always keep a frequent check on the manufacturer website of your printer, so you never miss the firmware updates that they release.
  • Remember to check firmware and printer version before installing the firmware
  • Strictly follow the firmware installation method explained on the manufacturer’s website.

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