3D printers have only become an economical option for crafters in the last few decades. If you are fortunate to own a printer, you’ve probably already encountered a strange sound or two. While some squeaking may be a typical sign of operation, others can be indicators that something is interfering with your printing job.
Squeaking or grinding is usually due to parts rubbing up against one another. Some common causes include poor lubrication in the Z-axis rod, misalignment with the extruder idler gear, poor lubrication with the X-axis idler pulley, an issue with the fan, or problems with the filament feeder.
In this article, I’ll discuss some of these causes as well as ways you can fix these common problems. Let’s get to it!
5 Common Causes of 3D Printer Squeaking
The most common problem with squeaking is usually a poorly lubricated or loose component. Examine your printer thoroughly to ensure nothing’s out of place before trying the suggestions on this list. You may also want to attempt to identify where the squeaking is most likely originating on the printer.
1. A Poorly Lubricated Z-Axis Rod
The Z-axis rod of a 3D printer is the portion that runs along the vertical axis of the project. As the object forms, this rod moves up and down, aligning the layers one above the other. This function is essential for the detail and structure of the project.
In some models, when the threaded Z-axis rod isn’t sufficiently lubricated, it can start sticking and grinding. Lubricating and adjusting the problem is relatively simple. You’ll need some PTFE-based grease to get started.
You can either use a lint-free rag or your fingers. You’ll need to smear the grease into the grooves and along the threads of the rod. Try to spread the oil across as much of the Z-axis rod as you can reach for maximum effect.
As part of this process, check to ensure that the nozzle isn’t grinding along the printer bed. Sometimes, issues with the Z-axis can cause these two surfaces to rub together. If this turns out to be the case, you may need to recalibrate those parameters.
2. The Extruder Idler Gear Is Misaligned
If your printer uses the dual drive system, you may not run into this problem. For printers that utilize the standard single-grip extruder, a misalignment can cause squeaking and grinding.
When the extruder idler gear is misaligned, there could be resistance against the metal casing or other components. As the gear turns, it scrapes away at these surfaces, causing the squeaking sound to erupt. The grinding can also damage various parts of the extruder if not addressed.
To fix the problem, remove the casing and check that the gear set rolls smoothly without resistance. The gears should line up cleanly. If your printer uses a bearing idler wheel, ensure that the wheel isn’t over tightened or stiff, as this can also cause problems in the system.
3. Poor Lubrication in the X-Axis Idler Pulley
The X-axis idler pulley moves the belt across, from left to right. If not well lubricated, there could be sticking and grinding as the pulley battles friction to shift the belt.
To address this problem, take some PTFE-based grease and apply it to the dowel inside the pulley. Move the pulley from left to right to help spread the oil over the full range of the system.
While the rest of the systems don’t usually require lubrication, you may also want to check the timing pulley at the other end as well as the belt that shifts back and forth during printing.
4. A Loose or Misaligned Fan
If the fan is loosened or misaligned, it can grind up against different portions of the printer or even your project itself. A loose fan can also emit a squeaking whine due to dirt and dust finding their way inside.
In this case, you should access the fan and either readjust or tighten the device. The fan should be securely seated and not rub up against the walls or other components. You can play with it a little bit, running the printer to see if minor adjustments help with the noise.
Sometimes the fan may also have a faulty bearing. If the blades seem to be getting stuck or struggling to spin, you can add a tiny bit of oil directly to the bearing to reduce friction.
The bearing of the fan is an important part. If this doesn’t remedy the problem, you may want to contact customer support for your particular model and request a replacement part.
5. Issues With the Filament Feeder
The filament may sometimes cause squeaking sounds in your printer. If bits and pieces of filament get caught in the extruder, they can create resistance and friction. Cleaning the extruder regularly can help prevent this problem.
Other times the filament feeder may be too far away from the printer. As the filament goes back and forth, there’s a tension that rubs the filament against the plastic of the feeder creating friction. That friction emits the squeaking sound.
You can fix this problem by placing the feeder closer to the printer to reduce the tension. Alternatively, you can buy or create a different spool for the feeder. Buying or 3D printing a guide that you can place on the side of your printer can also help direct the filament from a different angle so the thread doesn’t get caught on the plastic.
Most of the time, your 3D printer squeaks because of friction between two components. The key is to determine which parts are grinding up against each other and reduce the friction between them. A few common causes of squeaking include:
- Poor lubrication of the Z-axis rod or the X-axis idler pulley.
- Problems with the placement of the filament feeder.
- A sticking or whining printer fan.
- Misalignment with parts of the extruder.
If you’re uncertain about making any of these adjustments yourself, consider contacting a professional to provide further help.