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3D Printer Not Reading SD Card: 5 Causes and Fixes

You can work on your 3D design on your computer using software like Autodesk Fusion 360, Autodesk AutoCAD, Ultimaker Cura, and TinkerCAD. You can then save your design in an acceptable file format to an SD card, then transfer the card to your printer so the printing process can start. But what if your 3D printer will not read your card?

If your 3D printer is not reading your SD card, it could be because it needs reformatting or your printer can’t handle the card’s capacity. The SD card could also need cleaning because it is dusty, or its connections have oxidized. Other times, an SD card may just need to be replaced.

In this article, I will discuss several possible reasons why your 3D printer is not reading your SD card and what to do about each one.

Reasons Your 3D Printer Is Not Reading Your SD Card

If you have correctly inserted your SD card into your 3D printer and the screen continues to display something like “No SD card” or “Insert SD card,” that means your printer is not reading it.  

If this happens, it doesn’t mean your printer is busted, so there is no need to panic. There are several possible reasons for this, and each one has a solution you can try.

Of course, the first thing you need to do is check the printer’s cables. Make sure everything is connected properly, and there are no loose connections. 

If everything’s good, you can try checking your SD card for these other possible causes:

  1. Your SD Card Has the Wrong Format

If your 3D printer doesn’t read your SD card, it could be because your SD card needs to be reformatted. This could also happen even if you have successfully used your SD card with the same 3D printer previously. 

Sometimes, a computer scans an SD card and changes its configuration enough for it not to be recognized by your printer.

How To Fix

To reformat your SD card on a Windows computer, insert it into the SD card port or a connected USB adaptor. Go to “Devices and Drives” or “Devices with Removable Storage,” and right-click on the SD card or USB Drive. Select “Format” from the menu options. Set the format file to FAT32 (Default) and click Start.

Check out this video demonstrating how to reformat your SD card:

If you are using a Mac computer, connect your SD card, open Disk Utility, and look for your SD card on your screen’s left side. Click the Erase tab and expand the Format dropdown menu. Select MS-DOS (FAT) and click Erase.

  1. Your SD Card is High-Capacity

According to this subReddit for 3D printing enthusiasts, most 3D firmware can’t read high-capacity SD cards, including the newer UHS-I SD cards. This is because 3D printers can’t recognize the exFAT file system and GUID Partition Table (GPT) that high-capacity SD cards have.

How To Fix

Consider getting an SD card that is 32GB or lower. Then, you can format your SD card using a formatter you can download online. If your 3D printer came with an SD card, it is most probably an 8GB SDHC one, so it’s best if you just use that.

You can use a high-capacity SD card, but it needs to have a Master Boot Record (MBR), and its first partition must be FAT32.

  1. Your SD Card Needs Cleaning

It is also possible that dust and debris got lodged into your printer’s card slot or that the card itself has excessive dust buildup that needs to be removed. Too much dust buildup can affect the card’s connection and prevent your printer from reading it correctly.

How To Fix

If you notice excessive dust or dirt on the card or in the card slot, gently blow it off. You should then check the connections on your SD card for oxidation. You can clean oxidized electronic connections or contacts using a fiberglass cleaning brush. 

If you don’t have a fiberglass cleaning brush, you can try using isopropyl alcohol on a stiff brush to remove corrosion and grime. 

  1. Your SD Card Has Too Many Files

If you have too many files stored in your SD card, you may have reached the limit in the number of files your 3D printer can read. Having too many files can make the SD card operate slower or not at all, so you’ll need to check its data storage capacity.

How To Fix

If your SD card has too many files, remove it from your printer and connect it to your computer. 

Create a new folder in your computer and transfer older files or all the files you are not likely to use anytime soon, from your SD card to that folder. 

You can also delete the ones you will not be using anymore or those that already have copies on your computer or somewhere else. Leave only the files you are going to use in the immediate future.

  1. Your SD Card Needs To Be Replaced With a New One

There are times when your SD card just needs to retire, and you will have to let it go. Perhaps somewhere along the way, it got soaked in water or cracked. These kinds of damages can make the card unreadable. 

There could also be something wrong with the connections, and every other solution you have tried did not work, so it’s probably time for a new card.

How To Fix

The best way to replace your SD card is to purchase a new one. Check the specifications to make sure it has enough storage for your files. If you have a spare SD card, you can use it to get a copy of your print file from your computer and load it to your printer. 

Or, if you are not in a rush and have time to run to a gadget or computer supplies store, you can just buy a new one. Make sure it is a low-memory one.

Final Thoughts

A 3D printer not reading an SD card is a common problem. If this happens, you need to ensure that your SD card is inserted correctly into its rightful slot and that the printer cables are in good condition.

If not, you can just check your SD card as it may just need reformatting, cleaning, or replacing. You may also just need to clear out some files or get another one that has a lower capacity.