What 3D Printer parts break, wear or need replacement the most?

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We ran a 24-hour poll on social media and we asked “What breaks, wears out, or needs replacement the most on a 3D Printer (besides the nozzle)”?

I mean, wouldn’t it be interesting to see what the most common part failures were (and how they can be prevented)?

Based on 94 participants, here are the results…

3D Printer Poll
Note 3Daddict was merged with Makershop in 2022, hence the watermark

1st place – Heat Breaks / PTFE Tubes

Out of the 94 participants, the most common part to break on a 3D Printer is the Heat Break or the PTFE Lining within the throat of the hotend.

How to prevent PTFE tubes/Heat Breaks from Breaking

Switch to an all-metal heat break.

The best choice is to switch to an all-metal heat break. Also buying quality here matters! It’s worth a couple more dollars to buy a quality-made and coated heat break. The MicroSwiss coated heatbreaks are a great example of a quality part that is guaranteed to perform over time.

If you don’t want to switch to an all-metal heat break than be careful to read reviews on the part you and buy from a reputable company.

Also, pay attention to your Z steps/mm and make sure the printer is moving up the correct amount. If the print head does not move up enough excessive drag can also cause the heat breaks to fail and break over time.

2nd Most likely to break – Temper / Will / Sanity / Pride

Yep, we can totally agree with this one. Especially if you buy an Ender 3 without automatic bed leveling.

Owning a 3D Printer can be challenging at times especially when you’re new to the game. Sometimes, the smallest detail can cause major issues.

Not to mention troubleshooting is time-consuming, research-intensive, and frustrating. Luckily there are plenty of blogs, enthusiasts, forums, and YouTube videos to help you learn and fix the problems.

It’s amazing the support 3D Printer owners can get by using these resources. There is no better way to learn than fixing things on the fly. There will be times things seem hopeless but you’ll be amazed at what some patience, food, and sleep will get you.

Hang in there 3D Printers, it only gets better!

3rd most likely to break – Cooling fans

No surprise here. These cheap little axial fans are noisy, fragile, and often fail.

There are a couple of things you can do to prevent fan damage and failure.

  • Print a Fan Cover to protect the blades from damage
  • Buy a 20mm thick fan. Thicker fans are quieter and push more airflow
  • Use dampeners. Little rubber pads to cushion the fan and prevent vibration noise
  • Buy quality and warranty-backed fans

A great example of a fan that will stand the test of time is the Noctua A-Series Cooling Fan

Noctua NF-A4x10 FLX, Premium Quiet Fan, 3-Pin (40x10mm, Brown) Get the Noctua on Amazon

Backed by a 6-year warranty these fans come with padded dampeners and are high quality. Well worth a few extra bucks.

4th place runner up – Thermistors

e3d Thermistor

These lovely little sensors can be troublesome to install and are very fragile.

While there are some expensive M3 Screw embedded thermistors that are very easy to install and last longer – it’s usually cheaper to buy a pre-assembled kit. These kits come with a heater block, thermistor, cartridge, nozzle, and all.

Doradus M3 Modular Screw-on Stud Thermistor Hot End Screw Type Thermistors For 3D Printer
  • M3 Modular Screw-on Stud
  • Thermistor Hot End Screw
  • Electronics
  • Please Allow 7-23 Business Days For Delivery


Overall we found the 24-hour poll very interesting.

We took a step back and started to see a pattern. Aside from the odd Chinese defect part, it really comes down to the 3D Printer operator. Experience and attention to detail are what will keep your machine running without breaking.

So many things can affect parts and how long they last. Firmware, Slicer Settings, and even geological location can have an outcome on how your machine works. But one thing we can all agree on is when things break we learn how to fix them, which is good. Knowledge is power people…

Photo of author

Garrett Dunham

A trained Mechanical Engineer and lifelong tinker, Garrett chose to attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo's engineering proram because they had a 3D printer... back when they were called "rapid prototypers". "The first time I held something I designed and 3D printed, my mind exploded. Just hours earlier my idea was just a thought - and now it's a thing I'm holding." Now, years later, Garrett brings his love of tinkering, inventing, engineering, and 3D printing to the Makershop community.