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How To Fix 3D Printer Retraction Squeak

Address the annoying retraction squeak in your 3D printer. Follow our step-by-step remedies for a smoother printing journey.

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The sounds of a 3D printer can be pretty pleasant and musical to your ears, but if you’re hearing a squeaking sound, there might be an issue with your 3D printer’s retraction. This sound is not only irritating, but if you do not fix the underlying cause, it could cause harm to your printer and necessitate a repair. 

One of the best ways to fix a printer retraction squeak is to lubricate the printer to ensure free movement with no grinding. You should also consider cleaning your printer, tightening the Bowden tube, or checking that your fans are functional. 

Let’s break down these solutions a little more and cover some other ways you can get your 3D printer to stop squeaking. I’ll teach you the most common reasons why your 3D printer might squeak when using retraction and teach you how to fix each one. 

1. Tighten The Bowden Tube

If your 3D printer has a Bowden tube, it may have come loose. 

This tube, which feeds the filament from the cold end to the hot end, must be secure. Otherwise, it will jiggle a bit as your printer pushes the filament in and out of the nozzle. This gap can cause a squeaking sound from the friction of the filament on PTFE. 

In addition, if this gap is large enough, you’ll get a nozzle clog eventually, and you’ll likely notice some under-extrusion. 

That’s because the molten filament will fill the gap between where your Bowden tube and nozzle should meet. This blockage will create additional squeaking and force your printer to work harder, which is harmful to the motors. 

To check for this issue, run a retraction test and watch the tube. You’ve found the problem if the line moves or comes out of the hot end as you print. 

Here’s how to re-secure it: 

  1. Unload any filament from your 3D printer. 
  2. Set your printer to your PLA printing setting, heating the hotend to around 210° C (410°F). 
  3. Carefully remove the casing or fans from your hotend. You may need to unscrew two or three screws to reveal the nozzle, heatsink, and coupler that holds in the Bowden tube. 
  4. Unscrew the Bowden tube coupler, or nut, from the top of the hotend. You can use any small wrench or the wrench that came with your 3D printer. 
  5. Pull the Bowden tube out of the hotend. If there is any filament on the line, pull it off with your fingers or tweezers. 
  6. Remove the nozzle from your 3D printer using pliers and a wrench, unscrewing it entirely. 
  7. Force your clean Bowden tube through the hotend, allowing it to protrude through the bottom, where your nozzle was. If molten or crispy filament comes out, remove it from the tube and hotend with a pair of tweezers. 
  8. Repeat step seven two or three times until the Bowden tube comes clean. 
  9. Replace the Bowden coupler and nozzle on the hotend, leaving the nozzle a bit loose. 
  10. Force your Bowden tube into the nozzle as deeply as possible to eliminate gaps. 
  11. Tighten the nozzle with pliers, a wrench, or any other tool you have on hand. 
  12. Reassemble your hotend, keeping every screw nice and tight. 

If you want a more thorough explanation of this issue and a visual guide, you might want to check out this video, which will walk you through several ways to prevent and fix a Bowden tube gap in an Ender 3 and 5: 

2. Keep The Gears, Hotend, and Bowden Tube Clean

You will hear a squeaking noise if there’s even the tiniest bit of stuck-on filament, debris, or other gunk in your 3D printer’s moving parts. 

This noise can get loud when using your 3D printer’s retraction since the moving parts of your extruder will rub against this debris repeatedly. For example, the extruder gears that grab your filament and feed it in will creak or squeak if there is dust, hair, or bits of plastic stuck between the teeth. 

So, the best way to fix this issue is to clean the 3D printer regularly to prevent buildup. If left uncleaned, parts of your 3D printer will not only squeak but may begin to stick and even stop working altogether. 

If this is the first time you’ve heard this squeaking noise when using retraction, try loading, then unloading your filament repeatedly. 

Forcing the filament through the extruder a few times may help you clear off the gears and remove any stuck-on debris. You can also look into the gap between the gears to check for any pieces of loose filament and remove them with tweezers. 

3. Check the Fans

You may want to consider the fan if the above solutions aren’t fixing your squeaking issue.

If your fan isn’t keeping your hot end cool, heat creep can set in and make it more challenging for your filament to move through the extruder and Bowden tube – if you have a Bowden tube, that is. 

When cooling is the cause of a squeaking noise, there’s usually a partial clog in your Bowden tube coupler or somewhere else in your extruder. This clogging occurs when your filament gets warm before it hits the heat block, making a tube-shaped 3D print that solidifies inside your hotend. 

As more filament rubs up against this clog, it will create friction and squeak. 

Fixing the fan can be as simple as the other solutions provided above. You may also want to clean the fan regularly to prevent the buildup of dust and debris from your printing. 

Over time, the fan may need some maintenance, just like other parts of your printer. For example, the bearings in your printer fan can wear out and may need replacing. 

This aging can cause the fan to be noisy as the parts wear out and may not work as they should. If this is the case, you may want to consider replacing the fan altogether. 

4. Lubricate The Z-Axis Lead Screw 

One of the most common causes of a squeaky 3D printer is the lack of lubrication. 

Without lubricating the metal moving parts of your 3D printer, it may begin to squeak, leading to even more problems later on if not treated. 

Lack of lubrication can cause parts of your 3D printer to catch and mess up your print. It can also lead to breaking, which means expensive repairs. 

However, when you hear squeaking when using retraction, you’ll need to focus your greasing on the Z-axis lead screw. 

The Z-axis lead screw is an essential part of a 3D printer that needs consistent lubrication. This large bolt holds your extruder along the part of the printer that goes vertically. 

Because an extruder moves along this axis back and forth as you use retraction, the Z-axis creates metal-on-metal contact between the rod and the nut, which can get quite squeaky. 

Metal-on-metal contact is not something out of the ordinary for machines, but it is something that requires lubrication. Not only is this loud, but it can also affect the overall quality of your print. So, lubricate your Z-axis to prevent squeaking sounds when printing. 

Final Thoughts

While many potential causes exist, a squeaking 3D printer can be annoying. Most of the time, you can fix it with something as simple as lubrication or a thorough cleaning. 

If these simple solutions don’t work, you may need to retighten your Bowden tube or check on your printer’s extruder fan.

Sometimes squeaking can come from nothing more than old parts like the bearings wearing out. In these cases, you may need to consider replacing a part or two to keep your printer from incurring more damage.

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About Ben

I started 3D printing since 2013 and have learned a lot since then. Because of this I want to share my knowledge of what I have learned in the past years with the community. Currently I own 2 Bambulab X1 Carbon, Prusa SL1S and a Prusa MK3S+. Hope you learn something from my blog after my years of experience in 3D printing.