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How To Fix 3D Printer Filament Stuck on the Roll

Sometimes, no matter how well you set things up, you’ll get another 3D printer failure, and many times, a failed print is the result of your filament getting stuck on the roll. Generally, a 3D printer filament spool gets stuck due to lost tension on the spool, improper placement of your spool holder, or tangles from improper storage. 

Here’s how to fix 3D printer filament stuck on the roll:

  1. Keep the end of your filament secure at all times. 
  2. Use a reliable spool holder for the filament roll.
  3. Check and get rid of any tangles in the spool. 

Let’s walk through these quick fixes to 3D printer filament tangles. I’ll teach you how to fix a tangle, knot, and tension-related filament issue and show you how to prevent them in the first place. So, let’s get into it and straighten your spool out. 

1. Keep The End of Your Filament Secure at All Times

Almost all filament-tangling issues come from improper storage. 

When you open a new spool of filament, the tension will be perfect, and there won’t be any knots. However, as soon as you loosen up the end, the spool loses some of its tension, which is the leading cause of filament tangles and stuck spools. 

In addition, one common mistake that many 3D printing enthusiasts make is tucking the loose end underneath the rest of the filament on the spool. If you do not untuck this end properly the next time you use the material, you may end up with a twist in the filament, which will stop things up eventually.

So, the most crucial step to avoid tangles is to keep the tension tight and secure the loose end of your filament to the spool itself (and not to the remaining filament on the roll) any time the filament is not attached to your 3D printer. 

Most filament spools have a small hole you can thread the end through to hold everything in place when you finish with a print. If your filament roll has this hole, always use it before putting your leftover filament in storage. 

However, if your filament roll has no clip or hole for the loose end, you can use a piece of tape to secure it to the spool. 

To see why it’s essential to keep the tension in your filament spool tight and secure the loose end, check out this video from the pros over at MatterHackers: 

2. Use a Reliable Spool Holder for the Filament Roll

Sometimes, filament jams aren’t the filament’s fault. In these cases, your spool holder might be in the wrong place, or it might just not be a quality product. 

All 3D printers have an extruder with a stepper motor, whether the model is a direct drive or Bowden. These stepper motors are small, and they have limited strength to pull the 3D filament from the spool and feed it into the hot end. If there is any blockage or tension in your roll holder, the tiny motor won’t be able to pull the filament out. 

In addition, your spool holder’s placement, angle, alignment, and orientation will affect how efficiently your printer can extrude the filament. It’s all about creating the perfect tension when you extrude your filament. 

If you want to solve the problem, you should first check if you have positioned your roll holder at an angle. If it is in a difficult position, it will be difficult for the stepper motor or extruder to pull the thermoplastic efficiently and effectively. So, ideally, the filament should be parallel with the printer. 

Also, don’t place the spool holder too far from the extruder. Try to align the roll holder to draw the filament from around the center of the spool. 

However, sometimes, it isn’t the angle that causes the filament to stop. It might be the spool holder’s problem. For that reason, you should use a reliable spool holder for the filament roll. 

The holder should be sturdy enough to endure the weight of a full spool and must counter any slack when a 3D printer is running. 

The hot end and extruder work in conjunction, but the pulling action on the filament roll is not always consistent. Hence, a decent filament roll holder may spin back and forth to counter the friction and tension that might occur if there is a tangle or blockage.

If you own a Prusa, the Robert spool holder may be the right pick for you (it’s what I use). Essentially, you need a holder that does not resist the rotation nor spins freely. If you want something spectacular, you might want to consider a 3D printer filament spool holder with an auto rewind feature.

3. Check and Get Rid of Any Tangles in the Spool

Generally, new or just unboxed 3D printer filament spools don’t have tangles in the rolls. That said, there have been rare cases in which a filament comes pre-tangled, but for the most part, they only come from unreliable manufacturers that do not make quality products. 

However, tangles happen, and sometimes, your plan will get kinked up along with your filament even if you take the preventative measures above.

The best solution for a tangled or jammed filament roll is to untangle or re-wind the spool. You can take a few rounds out of the spool until you reach a point where you find a twist. If there was no twist, just unwind the spool until the tension in the roll is even again. 

Then, you can rewind the roll to get all the filament back into a straightened coil. Be sure to use consistent tension and straight motions to prevent future tangles. 

After that, be sure to secure the loose end to prevent tension-related blockages and tangles in the future. 

Here’s an easy way to untangle a 3D printer filament spool:

Final Thoughts

So, to sum things up, to prevent and fix tangles, stoppages, and knots on your 3D printer filament roll, you should: 

  • Keep the tension tight and secure the loose end when you store your filament. 
  • Use a well-placed spool holder that offers the perfect amount of resistance. 
  • Rewind your spool in case of loose tension or tangles. 

As long as you keep the tension even and don’t twist up your filament, you should be able to avoid tangles in the future. However, it’s always best to unwind your spool and rewind it as straight and evenly as possible if they happen.