How to Maintain Your New 3D Printer

In order to maintain high quality prints and keep your new printer in top condition it is important to service it once every couple of months. Much like a car; neglecting a 3D printer can cause problems. This page will guide you through necessary operations to keep your printer running for years to come. 
Before you make a print a quick check is advised. A visual check is recommended to see if there is not any:

1.     Old prints/objects on the build plate.

2.     Make sure no one can possibly walk over, damage or pull out the power supply cable.

3.     Cleaning the Printing Plate (Hot Bed/Printing Platform)

Cleaning the Printing Platform

After printing there may sometimes be residue left on the build plate causing an uneven surface. It is essential for a quality print that the build plate is kept clean. The following steps will show how:

·         Bring the build platform down to the bottom of the z-axis:

·         This is done on the Mankati or Creatbot by clicking the centre button, entering the prepare menu, selecting move axis -> move 1mm -> z-axis and turning the knob.

·         On the Flashforge models this is done by entering the utilities menu -> jog mode then clicking the right arrow button twice to select the z axis. The build plate is then moved with the up and down arrows accordingly. Moving the plate down prevents damage to the extruders and provides easier access.

·         Make sure the printer is turned off and the platform is cool to prevent injury.

·         Get a clean cloth and put a small amount of acetone on it. Just enough so the cloth is damp, too much could find its way into the electrical components.

·         Wipe down the build plate with the cloth, the acetone will help remove any tough filament stuck to the plate. 

Removing and loading filament

Removing the filament from a machine is an important skill to learn; using the correct method corresponding to the model of printer will prevent damage and cause fewer blockages.         

For the Mankati and Creatbot machines

1. Go to the "Prepare" tab on the main menu of the display. Press the button: next go to Preheat PLA/ABS, this can be done by turning the wheel next to the screen. Press the button.

2. Wait for the extruders to heat up to the set temperature. Trying to remove the filament while cool can cause a blockage and damage the extruders.

3. Undo the black knob on the motor located at the back of the printer, this will release the driving gears from the filament and allow it to be freely removed.

4. Push about 5cm of filament through the extruder to eliminate any lumps formed by cooling. This will prevent the filament becoming lodged in the tubing. Swiftly pull on the filament until it is out, then cut off any damaged filament at a 45 degree angle and roll up the spool ready for the next use.

5. While the extruder is still hot, get the new roll of filament as desired and cut off and damaged filament at a 45 degree angle. Straighten out the first 10 cm of filament by hand to make it easier to insert. Glide it up with a gentle pressure until the head is extruding the matching colour of filament. While keeping the pressure constant tighten the black knob at the back of the machine. Be careful to not over tighten the knob or the pressure put out by the gears could cause damage to the filament or prevent it feeding correctly.

NOTE: if the printer runs out of filament while printing it is best to undo the collar located above the motor with a 12mm spanner and pull out the remaining filament while the head is hot.

For the Flashforge Series

1.     Enter the Utilities menu -> Select Filament loading then load the appropriate extruder. Loading the extruder before unloading ensures there are no lumps of filament that could get caught and cause a blockage.

2.     Once the extruder has headed up and is feeding correctly go back and select the unload option for the same side. Slide back the black tube connecting to the print head and gently pull on the unloading filament.

3.     When the current filament is free cut off any damaged filament at a 45 degree angle and roll up the spool ready for the next use.

4.     To load new filament go back and click the load option again, put the spool on the holder and feed it through the black feeder tube. Gently guide it through the top of the print head until a solid even flow appears from the nozzle.

NOTE: If the spool runs out mid print the best way to fix the problem is to load in a new spool which will force the remaining few centimetres of filament out the extruder.

Cleaning the filament feeder
After numerous prints the gears feeding the filament through the extruder can collect particles of plastic in the teeth preventing them from feeding properly. This can cause an uneven extrusion of filament and cause a print to either fail or reduce its quality. This can be easily fixed. For optimal results it is best to do this when the printer is unloaded.

 Mankati and Creatbot machines

·         Simply undo the black knob on the motor located at the back of the machine and use a small brush to remove and plastic.

Flashforge series

·         Undo the two bolts connecting the fan to the print head with the appropriate Allen key. Remove the fan and the heat sink to expose the gears. Be careful not to lose the small white spacers. Use a small brush to remove and plastic stuck in the gear teeth.


Lubricating the axis

After approximately every half year the threaded rod on the z-stage has to be lubricated. Because of the international express regulations, grease is not included with the printers, so you need to buy it in your local hardware store. The grease is the lubrication which has to be used on the threaded z-stage rod. Make sure you spread 10 drops of grease over the entire exposed threaded rod. With you next print the thread will grease itself by moving up and down. The worm drive on the Creatbot and Mankati machines are located just behind the centre back panel of  the printer. You may need to unscrew the pannel to get access to it.

If you notice small waves in the outside surfaces of your 3D printed objects or the print jumps horizontally. It is recommended to add a single drop of sewing machine oil onto the X and Y steel axes bars. This will improve the movement of your printer. If you choose to lubricate the X- and Y-axes you MUST use sewing machine oil. Apply a maximum of one droplet oil on the axis. Remove any excess oil.

De-Assembling the Print Head

The following links are guides to de-assembling the printer heads. This should only be done if required to clean out the feeding gears on the Flashforge printers or to unblock or replace the tubes on the Mankati or Suwit printers:

Mankati and Creatbot printers: 

Flashforge Series: