- The extruder makes a regular ‘clunk-clunk-clunk’ sound
- Reduced or no extrusion of plastic
- Degraded print quality
The clunking sound comes from the stepper motor in the extruder head skipping because it’s overloaded - in other words it’s taking too much effort to push fresh filament into the hot end, melt it and extrude it onto the build surface.
Why is it happening?
A clunking extruder motor can indicate the following:
- The nozzle is blocked.
- Z-offset is too low - the tip is being driven into the bed, blocking off the nozzle and preventing extrusion.
- Print temperature is too low - fresh filament isn’t melting fast enough in the tip to extrude properly.
- Stepper driver power is too low - the driver circuit may not be providing enough power for normal operation
- You’re printing too fast!
Do I need to fix it?
Yes. A clunking extruder indicates that you aren’t extruding the right amount of plastic and may be an indicator of wider problems that can damage your printer like an incorrect z-offset or retrograde extrusion. It’s worth figuring out what’s wrong to avoid damage and improve build quality.
You may occasionally hear a single clunk or two, particularly in a cold environment, when extruding the first layer of a part, when printing with higher density plastics or when printing at high speeds and high layer thicknesses (>0.25mm / layer). One or two clunks at a time isn’t bad, but consistent misstepping needs to be fixed.
Your nozzle may become blocked with residue from poor quality plastic filament, environmental grit, or residue buildup from repeatedly switching back and forth between different filament types without purging. Try purging some clean filament. If that doesn’t work, you may need to replace your printer nozzle.
Z-Offset Too Low:
If you’re hearing a scraping sound and seeing the nozzle leave an impression in the print bed as it prints then the z-offset is too low! You need to recalibrate your z-offset. It’s also worth checking your hot end grub screw isn’t loose.
Low Print Temperature:
Check the manufacturer’s recommended print temperature for the filament (if it’s a range of temperatures we’d recommend starting in the middle). You may need to create or modify a new filament preset to slice your models with. You can follow the steps in this guide to see if the filament is extruding correctly at the recommended temperature.
Stepper driver power:
Have a look at this troubleshooting guide - you’ll need to check your wiring, make sure nothing is unplugged, check your power supply, then check the driver for damage or incorrect current limiter settings. This can be a tricky problem, so don’t be afraid to raise a support request.
Printing too fast:
WHOA THERE, HORSE. Slow it down a bit - drop your print speed to the recommended settings (or restore the defaults in Mattercontrol). Different plastics melt and flow at different rates, so if you’re using an unusual filament you may need to modify your filament slicer settings to slow down your print speeds. You can also manually adjust your feed speed while printing, but that’s not a lasting solution.