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Why does filament sometimes get clogged in the hot-end?
Not an issue currently as ive fixed it, but I'm curious to understand what happened here. Sorry for the long read, but im trying to get all the facts down.
After several weeks/months of troubleshooting my A5, needing to re-lube the lead screws, a failed stepper motor, upgrading to TMC2130 and installing an IR bed level sensor, I have been printing flawlessly for around 10 days now (yay). My machine has been on literally almost non stop during this time creating various things I have had saved up during the downtime I had. I have been switching colours after almost every print as was required by my models. All filament was PLA, all from the same manufacturer who ive always had good, consistent print results with.
Typically, the last thing I printed was in black, I did two 4-5hr prints. These completed OK, but the second of the long prints had weird extrusion on it, almost blobby rather than smooth when it was doing the outline around the parts for example.
at the end of the print, i retracted that material and tried to insert some ABS, but it got stuck. Weird I thought! I heated up the nozzle to 250 (think this is as high as I can go with the PTFE throat) and still stuck. Odd...
I undid the Bowden tube on top of the extruder carriage and tried to manually push the filament in, but no dice, it was completely stuck up.
I then removed the nozzle using the recommended method of holding the heater block with an adjustable "monkey wrench" (as we call them in the UK) and a socket set to remove the nozzle and tried pushing the filament in again. Nothing, totally stuck!
So, my new pack of nozzles came with something they called "cleaning picks". The package clearly says they're acupuncture needles Anyway, I shoved one up the throat and it went through with a bit of resistance, but I still couldn't get the damn filament through.
Lastly, I actually unscrewed the Bowden tube connector on the extruder carriage and shone a torch up from where the nozzle (now removed) would normally be and it was clearly blocked.
I ended up showing a 2mm drill bit (smooth end first) all the way up, through the throat and back out the top of the extruder assembly, out with it came a huge chunk of black PLA!!!
My question is, where did this come from!?!
As mentioned, I had been printing flawlessly for 7-10 days almost non-stop. I haven't adjusted any settings in firmware or in my slicer from start to finish through all the models I have printed and this is "known good" filament I'm printing with.
There were no other colours in this chunk of plastic, purely black, but I cannot figure out why it would have jammed when it had been printing so long in all kinds of colours just fine.
It was an absolute pain to clear it, I'm just trying to be sure that its not something that I did, so I can avoid doing it again.
The only thing I can think of is pure and simple heat soak, but I'm sure after an hour or two, the machine would already be heat soaked, it wouldn't take 10 days to reach this state.
Yours, confusingly, Cs2000