2.2 Loading Filament

Before starting your first print, you must first load filament into each extruder you will be using. However, even if your printer has two extruders, it is strongly recommended that you start with a simple print which uses only a single extruder — preferably the right extruder. As such, you should not load filament into the second extruder until you actually need to use it.

Most 3D printers come with a spool or two of filament, which is generally either ABS or PLA plastic. While the loading directions are the same regardless, you should load a filament compatible with the treatment applied to the surface of your build plate (e.g., ABS for Kapton tape on the build surface; PLA for painter’s tape on the build surface).

From the documentation for your printer, you will need to determine:

1.
The proper filament spool mounting technique. Many printers come with a rear-mounted filament spool.
2.
The spool orientation and filament feed path. It is important to set this up properly so as to prevent filament tangles and other feed-related problems.
3.
The mechanical steps to load filament into your extruder’s feed mechanism, as this varies between printers.

Once you have determined the above information, you are ready to load filament into your extruder — the righthand extruder if you have two:

1.
With a pair of scissors, neatly trim the end of the filament. Mount the filament spool in its correct orientation and feed the filament through any guide tubes along its feed path. Do not yet attempt to load the filament into the extruder itself.
2.
Turn on your printer. Then, from the front LCD panel navigate with the down key to the “Utilities” item, Section 3.7. Press the center key to select it.
3.
Within the Utilities menu, navigate to the line reading “Filament Loading” (Section 3.7.2). Again, press the center key to select this.
4.
If your printer arrived with a short length of filament already loaded into the extruder, then you will want to unload it first:
(a)
Select “Unload Filament” and the printer will heat up the extruder to the temperature set in Preheat Settings under the Utilities menu, Section 3.7.3. By default, this is 230 C. If you have two extruders, select this for the right extruder.
(b)
Once heated up, the printer will then begin to unload the filament. After a few moments you should be able to manually pull the segment out. This should not require much force.
(c)
You may press the center key to stop the unloading process.
5.
Now select “Load Filament”. If you have two extruders, select loading for the right extruder.
6.
The printer will now begin to heat up the extruder to the temperature set in Preheat Settings under the Utilities menu.
7.
Once the extruder has reached temperature, the front LCD panel will generate a screen telling you to begin loading the filament into the extruder. The feed motor for the extruder will begin turning to allow you to load the filament. Following the necessary procedure for your printer, load the filament into the extruder and allow it to feed the filament.
8.
After a few moments, a hot plastic thread will begin to emerge from the extruder’s nozzle. If it is not initially the color of the filament you loaded, note that the factory may have tested the printer using a different color filament. Allow the filament to extrude for at least 30 seconds before pressing the center key to stop the process. Press the left key once to return to the Utilities menu; press the left key a second time to return to the top-level menu.

pictNote If the extruded filament tends to curl upwards as it exits the nozzle, then there may be debris clogging the nozzle. If such is the case, contact your printer manufacturer for assistance. Also, if the extruded filament bubbles and pops a little, then your filament has absorbed too much moisture and may need to be dried out. The proper way of drying it depends on the type of filament; contact your filament vendor for guidance.

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