3D Printer Filament Not Feeding. Causes & Easy Fixes!

by Mike Brooks | Last Updated: May 20, 2023

Getting a high-quality 3D print demands that you use the best filament spool. Every 3D printer works best using a specific filament type depending on the 3D model you intend to print.

3D Printer Filament Not Feeding

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The next thing is to ensure that your 3D printer filament feeding process is seamless and is perfectly functioning.

However, this is often not the case. 3D printer filament not feeding into the extruder motor remains a common 3D printing challenge that both professionals and hobbyists contend with often.

Filament spool clogged nozzle diameter, a damaged PTFE Tube, and a weak extruder motor are some of the primary causes of 3D printer filament not feeding into the extruder motor.

If your 3D filament is not feeding correctly, don’t panic; check your PTFE tubes for clogs or damage near the end.

Cleaning partially clogged nozzle diameter or entirely blocked nozzle along the extrusion path helps sort this issue in a big way.

How Do You Fix a Filament That Is Not Feeding?

Use the Correct Current for Extruder Motor

There are many reasons why a filament may not be feeding, and one such reason is the motor amperage extruder value being either too high or low.

You need to figure out your extruder stepper motor current correctly when 3D printing.

Your optimum current for your extruder motor temperature needs to be high enough to push the filament through the hot nozzle.

Additionally, it should be low enough so that if you experience a partially clogged nozzle, the motor skips steps instead of grinding a groove into the filament.

85% of the rated current remains a reasonable amount of maximum value that will make you not overheat your extruder stepper motors.

Unblock Clogged Nozzle Extrusion Path

It will be best to clear the nozzle extrusion path for the filament feeding. Free your extrusion path of obstructions.

Also, cleaning filament obstructions using a brass wire brush (check at Amazon) opens up a part of a fully clogged nozzle.

Cleaning filament clogged up in a nozzle ensures your filament flow inside the extruder in a Bowden tube setup (check at Amazon).

The next thing to do is fix your filament spool holder close to your extruder. Doing so ensures filament comes out at an angle somewhat curved in a flat direction and into the extruder stepper motor.

Make a habit of frequently cleaning up your 3D printer nozzle, especially if you like changing your plastic filament material.

Use Correct Retraction Settings

Retraction settings refer to the length and speed at which your printer nozzle pulls back filament into the extruder while moving from one point to the next extrusion station.

Retraction mechanisms ensure the feed filament doesn’t leak while the hot end is in motion.

Significantly, low retraction settings negatively impact print quality and stand out as a primary cause for 3D print total failures.

Notably, you can set your retraction length at 2.0 mm and retraction speed at 40 mm for a start. You can adjust these starting values as you test print to get your optimum retraction settings.

Stick to the retraction values to obtain a more precise and high-quality 3D model with your 3D printer.

Replace Worn-out PTFE Liner

Constant heat causes the PTFE liner to heat up. Also, a heated-up PTFE liner makes 3D printer filament not correctly feed into the extruder stepper motor.

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Besides, a PTFE liner worn out at the edges has the effect of clogging the filament to become smaller, more so in diameter.

Furthermore, a heat sink that fails to dissipate heat appropriately causes heat creep.

Thus, leading heat to travel where it isn’t supposed to and back into the PTFE tube. It remains the heat that causes PTFE tube heating issues.

To correct worn-out PTFE liner, check the end of your PTFE tube and replace it if it is worn out.

Correct a Strong Spring Tension

The muscular spring tension on your extruder idler can eat into your filament. It has the effect of causing extruder motor not feeding filament.

Also, extruder gear eats up filaments causing a filament feeding problem. Sometimes, the idler can be too low pressure causing jammed filament.

Clogged extruder gear doesn’t allow the filament to feed and, as such, needs correction.

To correct a strong spring tension, conduct a trial and error on your extruder gear. It makes you get the correct spring tension that prevents your extruder motor from feeding filament.

Replace Worn-out Feeder Gear

Another cause of filament not feeding in the extruder motor is worn-out feeder gear teeth. If your printer nozzle has worn-out feeder gear teeth, it stops the filament from flowing seamlessly into the extruder gear.

To tackle this issue, replace worn-out feeder gear with a suitable quality metal extruder that won’t quickly lose teeth in the common cause of 3D printing.

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Besides, you can opt for a dual drive extruder cog. These extruders lead to high-quality extrusion performance.

Solve Issue of Weak Extruder Motor

Suppose you realize that your extruder motor clicks; check to see whether your filament is still straight as it could be deformed.

Extruder clicking results from the 3D printer nozzle operating too close to the built platform.

As the nozzle is too close to the print bed, the plastic filament flow rate fails to cope with the amount of filament coming out of the nozzle. It is a scenario that negatively impacts the 3D model quality and must be addressed.

The best way of navigating around the issue of a weak extruder motor is to check and work on the entire extruder motor wiring system. Besides, it is a sure way of ensuring your printing temperature is optimal.

If you’ve worked on your extruder wiring system and still find problems with your extruder being weak, consider replacing it with an entirely new one for better print results.

Correct Your Hot End Temperature Settings

If you find your 3D printer filament not feeding well, check your hot-end temperature settings. Your hot end temperature settings must be correct to ensure your extruder stepper motor pushes filament into the nozzle at an optimal rate.

Every plastic filament type has its hot end temperature settings, and it would be best to adhere to the specific values more so if you like changing filament types.

Set Filament Well Between Gear and Pulley

As part of your 3D printing preparations, take your time to connect the plastic filament appropriately to your extruder correctly.

You’ll get high-quality prints if you don’t connect your filament tip too tight between the gear and the pulley. Also, it gives the filament the flexibility to move freely between these two extruder components.

Why Is My 3D Printer Not Feeding Properly?

Clogged Extrusion Paths

One of the fundamental reasons why a 3D printer may not be feeding filament is the issue of clogged extrusion paths. It would help if you had a clear extrusion path whenever you want to 3D print.

If there are obstructions in the extrusion path caused by clogged or jammed filament, it will result in filament feeding problems.

Damaged PTFE Tube

A malfunction heatsink causes heat to travel outside the melting zone. The heat tends to rebound excessively into the PTFE tube, leading to severe damage.

If your PTFE tube fails, the entire filament feeding process is negatively affected. As such, you’ll need to replace the PTFE liner with a new one to remedy the situation.

Incorrect Retraction Settings

Retraction settings allow you to control the length and speed of the filament, thus retracting into the extruder nozzle when the hot end moves from one extrusion location to the next. It helps avoid filament leaking during these movements.

Therefore, incorrect retraction settings are a severe cause of stuck filament.

If you set a high retraction speed, the back and forth movements grind the filaments making it extremely hard for drive gears to keep moving the filament.

A High Filament Tension

A high filament tension between the drive gear makes the drive gears go into overdrive. The drive gear eats up the filament and certainly affects the feed flow if it so happens.

A Low Extruder Temperature

A low extruder temperature doesn’t allow the filament to go through the nozzle quickly. As such, you’ll be required to adjust your extruder temperatures gradually by between 5-10 degrees Celsius.

More importantly, you need to check and confirm the melting temperatures of the filament spool you intend to use.

Also, if you set a high extruder temperature, you’ll face challenges as well. Too high temperatures melt filament before time, causing severe nozzle jams and clogs.

Worn-Out Drive Gears

It is usual for the teeth of the drive gear to get worn out after working for some time. If this happens, the drive will have difficulty feeding filament properly.

Instead, you may need to replace them or go for a new extruder hot end.

Nozzle Clogging

The nozzle pushes filaments out during the 3D printing process to create the 3D model on the built platform.

More often, filament leftovers get stuck in the nozzle leading to clogging. The cloggings cause filament jamming in the system.

Additionally, a partially or a fully clogged nozzle will face severe difficulties feeding filament. For better quality 3D prints, you must maintain a clean nozzle all the time.

A Weak Extruder Motor

If you hear a clicking sound during 3D printing, the chances are that your extruder motor has weakened significantly.

Extruder motors allow the nozzle to push filament into place for extrusion as molten filament.

Therefore, a weak extruder affects printer feed rate and extrusion rate in a big way. The filament feeding process will either be slowed down or halt to a grind.

Why Is My Ender 3 Pro Not Feeding Filament?

The Creality Ender 3 Pro is an open-source printer ideal for 3D printing beginners.

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Also, professionals who intend on creating a fleet of inexpensive manufacturing printers find them suitable.

Ender 3 Pro is not feeding filament because of:

Why Is My 3D Printer Not Extruding Properly?

The 3D printing process occurs when the hot end extrudes molten plastic filament in the heated print bed. After, the filament solidifies to form the designated 3D print model.

If the 3D printer fails to extrude correctly, it leads to failed prints or exceptionally low-quality prints.

Reasons for Failed 3D Printer Extrusion

Finished Filament

Sometimes, filament spools get finished midway through the stream when 3D printing. Thus, it causes your nozzle not to extrude properly or extrude.

Importantly, you need not panic as all you need to do to connect similar filaments, and the extrusion will continue uninterrupted.

Over-heated Extruder Motors

Often, the extruder motors get heated beyond the temperatures they can withstand. It occurs when the motor runs for extended periods due to a prolonged 3D printing process.

It will be best to stop the motor sometimes to cool before starting 3D printing again.

Alternatively, you can constantly check how the filament feeding is ongoing to ensure it occurs freely and allow the printer some breaks between projects to cool down.

Hot End and Printer Bed Coming Too Close

If the hot end is too close to the printer bed, it causes filament over-extrusion. It may lead to the flattening of the first layer, causing warping issues.

Get the initial nozzle height evenly so that the hot end doesn’t come too close to the printer bed.

Clogged Nozzle

Clogged nozzle remains a fundamental reason for extruder nozzle not to extrude filaments properly.

Thus, endeavor to clean your clogged nozzle to create a clear path for the 3D printer to extrude the molten filament.

How Do You Tighten a Filament Feeder?

To tighten your filament feeder, you need to adjust the printer’s extrusion tension. Loosen the idler screw and fix the filament spool. Ensure the filament remains stable so that it doesn’t move forward independently.

After that, you can tighten the screw until the extruder grips the filament spool well enough to stop it from moving on its own. The best way of getting an excellent grip is to conduct a trial and error experiment.

Why Does My Filament Stop Extruding?

Your filament can stop extruding due to a clogged printer extruder. Additionally, overheated extruder motor drives account for the failure of filament extrusion in 3D printing.

More importantly, it would help if you stopped filament clogging by eliminating its causes.

The reasons the extruder clogs are poor calibration, incorrect printing temperature, poor filament quality, and dust and dirt around the printer’s surroundings.

How Do You Tell if Your Nozzle Is Clogged?

It is not difficult to tell if your nozzle is clogged. You only need to disengage the extruder gear lever to find out if your printer nozzle is blocked or not.

After disengaging the extruder lever, push the filament through using your hand. It doesn’t take much effort to get it through if unclogged. So please don’t press it too hard.

On the contrary, if you find it too hard to press through, then know your nozzled is clogged up.

How Do You Unclog a 3D Printer Nozzle?

To unclog a 3D printer nozzle, heat the nozzle to 90 degrees Celsius and pull the filament out of the nozzle. You’ll see the shape of the nozzle in the yanked filament tip.

Then heat the nozzle to 250 degrees Celsius and push the filament through until it comes out clean and quickly.

How Do You Fix Filament Tension?

Fixing or adjusting the filament tension is simple. Just follow these steps below:


3D printing filament not feeding is a common issue 3D hobbyists often have to handle.

The primary causes of filament feeding problems remain nozzle clogging, damaged PTFE tube, a weak extruder motor, and incorrect retraction settings.

Fixing the filament feeding challenges requires that you correct these problems by eliminating them.

Michael Brooks is the founder of M3DZone.com. He sees a very bright future for 3D printing that's why his mission is to try and make this easy for everyone. Discover your hidden talent and creativity. You can follow here: Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest.