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5 Ways To Know if a Nozzle Is Too Close to the Bed

If your print nozzle is too close to the bed, it can scrape against it. The parts can be damaged when that happens, which can be costly to repair! You should avoid this, but how can you tell that the nozzle is getting too close to the printing bed?

Here are 5 ways to know if a nozzle is too close to the bed: 

  1. The nozzle doesn’t extrude plastic for the first two layers.
  2. Plastic won’t come out at all.
  3. The nozzle becomes blocked with melted plastic.
  4. The nozzle is less than 0.06 to 0.2 mm away from the bed.
  5. You can’t slide a paper page between the nozzle and the print bed.

This article will cover all the ways to tell if your printer’s extruder is too close to the bed. If you have this issue, you’ll want to take steps to correct it so that you can use your 3D printer efficiently again. So, if you’re ready to learn more, keep reading!

1. The Nozzle Doesn’t Extrude Plastic for the First Two Layers.

When the 3D printing nozzle is too close to the 3D printer’s bed, it won’t extrude the first two layers of plastic. This issue occurs when there’s not enough space for the material to come out of the nozzle.

You’ll want to make a basic print, then watch how the nozzle functions. If it skips the first two layers but does the third or fourth, that means the extruder comes too close to the bed. It can’t release the plastic until it gets a bit higher up.

You may also notice that the plastic comes out extremely thin in the first layer. The size of the layers should always be consistent.

You can test this by printing along the entire printing bed in a single layer. If some of the plastic seems thicker or thinner in some areas, then the printing bed isn’t level—you’ll have to correct it! To do this, open the machine’s settings and follow the instructions given in the manual. You need the surface to be flat and even.

2. Plastic Won’t Come Out at All.

You may also notice that no plastic comes out at all. The plastic can’t escape, then causes jams in the machine. This issue can also happen when the nozzle is too close to the printing bed. You’ll want to take care of it immediately so the mess doesn’t worsen.

There are several fixes for a 3D printer jam that you can try. If the jam comes from the nozzle being too close to the bed, there’s likely molten plastic somewhere it shouldn’t be.

However, sometimes the printer bed blocks the plastic without causing a serious jam.

3. The Nozzle Becomes Blocked With Melted Plastic

Sometimes when the nozzle comes into contact with the print bed, it becomes blocked with melted plastic. If that happens, you’ll want to lower the bed, then turn the heat on. Doing so should turn the plastic back into a liquid to work its way out of the machine.

Some machines come with an “unload” feature. This feature turns on the heat, melts the plastic, and removes it from the printer. If you have this option, you should do it every so often to prevent clogging.

If none of these methods work, you can try using acetone to dissolve the blocked filament. Twist off the nozzle with a wrench, then place it in a container of acetone. You’ll want to give it several minutes to dissolve the clog.

When finished, dry the nozzle and remove any leftover filament. You can use a heat gun to melt away any remaining bits. However, you’ll need to take care not to melt the nozzle and make sure to keep the heat gun moving.

After drying the nozzle, you can reattach it to the machine. First, you should do a simple print to test that the clog’s gone.

4. The Nozzle Is Less Than 0.06 to 0.2 mm Away From the Bed.

Most printers recommend that the nozzle is at least 0.06 to 0.2 mm (0.002 to 0.007 inch) away from the printing bed. You can check your machine’s software settings to determine if the distance is too far or too close.

Many machines display this information as (0, 0, 0) or X, Y, Z coordinates. When it comes to height, you want to check the Z coordinate. It should be at the proper distance when in a resting position.

5. You Can’t Slide a Paper Page Between The Nozzle and The Print Bed.

The recommended distance between the printer nozzle and the printer bed is usually just enough for you to be able to slide a piece of plain copy paper between them. If you can’t, or it’s extremely difficult to do, then these two parts are probably too close to each other.

You want to be able to slide the page between them with a small amount of resistance when you pull the page back out. You likely have the perfect distance between the two parts if you can do that with ease!

How To Adjust Your Printer Nozzle

You’ll need to know how to move your printer nozzle and the bed to correct these problems. There are plenty of different models that use other methods and controls. It helps to check the manual that came with your particular 3D printer. You can also check it out online.

You’ll need to move the printer bed by leveling it on most models. It would be best if you did this any time you suspect it’s too close to the nozzle.

Adjusting the printer nozzle varies per machine, but you should always start by cleaning the hardware. Then, unlock the stepper motors so you can move the printhead around. You should be able to fit a piece of paper between the nozzle and bed, but you should still feel resistance when you pull it back out.

If you want to learn more about how to adjust the location of the bed and the nozzle, this quick YouTube video covers everything you’ll need to know: