Changing filament on a Creality Ender 3 printer is fairly simple. Whether you want to change filaments between two prints, or change a filament mid-way through a print, we’ve got you covered. These instructions apply to the Ender 3, Ender 3 Pro, and Ender 3 V2.
The Creality Ender 3 is one of the most successful consumer-grade 3D printers of all time. It’s an excellent entry point for hobbyists, and can grow with you as you need it for more advanced uses.
Changing the filament on an Ender 3 is quite straightforward, and you can do it in a few easy steps. You may want to change filament if your current spool is running short, you want to change colors, or you want to use a different material altogether.
Image: Reddit u/ShadowTech120
How to change filament on an Ender 3 between two prints
Step 1: Heat up the nozzle
To remove the old filament, you first need to heat up the nozzle to a temperature that can melt the old filament.
The exact temperature range is written on the spool and varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but 200 degrees is more than enough to melt PLA.
On your printer’s control panel menu, go to Control Settings => Temperature => Nozzle and use the knob to set the temperature to the right amount.
Give the printer a short time for the nozzle to reach the temperature you are looking for.
Step 2: Remove the old filament
The steps to remove the filament are quite simple too. Squeeze the extruder lever to make the extruder drive gear let go of the filament. Then pull the filament until it comes out of the Bowden tube, through the extruder, and out of the 3D printer.
As good practice, take the loose end of the filament and insert it through the small hole on your filament spool. This makes it easier to reuse the spool next time.
Step 3: Add new filament
Before you add the new filament, you’ll have to make sure the temperature is correct. If you’re using the same kind of material, you don’t need to change anything.
If the old material has a higher temperature than the new material, keep the temperature high until you’ve completed the next step.
Squeeze the extruder lever to make space between the drive gear and the bearing, and insert the filament into the extruder. Keep pushing until it goes into the Bowden tube, and into the hot end where you’ll begin to feel some resistance.
Keep the extruder lever squeezed and push the filament until filament comes out of the nozzle.
Pro tip: sometimes, used filaments tend to become a little blobby at the tip and are difficult to get into the hole in the extruder. If this is the case, use a knife or pair of scissors to cut the filament at an angle to make a sharp tip that slides in easily.
Step 4: Clear the nozzle of old filament
Before you start your next 3D print, you’ll need to make sure all the old filament is pushed out of the nozzle. Continue pushing the new filament by hand until all of the old filament has been extruded and you can only see the old filament coming out.
At the start, you’ll see the two filaments mixed together, but once you see the proper color, you’re good to go.
Of course, if you’re using a new spool of the exact same filament, you can skip this step.
You can also do this through the menu of your Ender 3.
Go to the settings menu then head to Move Axis => 1 mm => Extruder
This instructs the printer to turn the extruder motor 1 mm. Keep moving the extruder in 1 mm increments (you may need to go up to 15 or 20 mm) until there is no old filament remaining.
How to change filament mid-print
In case you’re running short on filament or you want to change colors, you can also change the filament mid print.
The manual method
As your print is running, go into the Ender 3 menu and select Pause Print.
When you hit Pause Print, the nozzle will move up and to the side. It will also start to cool, which is why you have to go back into the menu and reheat the nozzle.
Then pull out the old filament, and insert the new filament. Continue pushing it in until the old filament has been purged and only the new filament comes out.
Then go back to the Ender 3 menu and select resume print. The print head will move back into position and the print will continue.
Sometimes, there is an extra blob of filament that comes out as a result of the filament change. If this happens, just pull the blob off with tweezers so it does not get in the way of your print.
The Cura method
You can also use Cura to move the print head to the side to change filaments. This will have to be written into the .gcode file. You can use the Cura method when you want to change colors at a very specific layer.
To start, you’ll need to go into the Cura Marketplace and add the Post Processing extension.
Slice your model in Cura, and go to the preview tab. Then you can move the slider on the right up and down until you get to the exact layer that you want to change filaments at. Make a note of the layer number.
Then go to the extensions menu => Post Processing.
Find the “Pause at height option”
Select “Layer number” from the first dropdown, and enter the layer number you noted earlier.
Change the Park Printhead X and Y values to a number that will move it away comfortably from your print.
You can also add a little bit of retraction to prevent the filament from dripping.
Then close the dialog box and slice the model again.
Now, when the 3D printer reaches the layer you specified, the print head will move away. You can then swap out the filament and resume the print.