MakerBot Problem Spotting

It can be quite confusing to handle a MakerBot when it's not performing as intended, but the majority of the time these issues are minor and recurring. At the Bartlett, we can support these issues when they arrive but diagnosing the issue before you report it can help speed along the process of fixing it and help you better understand the way these machines operate.

My Material Won't Load/My Material Isn't Extruding

This is usually caused by a blockage of solidified filament in the extruder, just before the heating element so it can't be dislodged. This is fixed by disassembling the extruder, heater, fan and motor and dislodging the blockage. It's a quick and easy fix but it is important that you ask a member of staff for assistance as the heating elements are exposed once the assembly is opened.

The Material Starts Extruding but Fades Out to Nothing


This problem can usually be fixed by leveling the build plate. When the build plate loses its level alignment, the end that is too high leaves too little space for the material to extrude and the material clogs inside the extruder. There is a wizard in the machine's interface (Ultilies > Level Build Plate) and it will guide you through this simple process, all you need it s sheet of paper. If the machine still doesn't extrude it is likely a clog has occurred and a member of staff will need to clear it before you can print again.

My Model is Slipping in One Axis/My Model is Building Off of the Build Plate


This is a result of the gantry belt- the toothed rubber belt that your extruder zips back and forth along, being too loose. When this happens, the teeth can't grab the motorised grooves they are attached too and the extruder doesn't move as it should. This requires the motors to be screwed in tighter at the side and can be rather quickly fixed by a member of staff. 

My Model Looks Like Spaghetti


The dreaded Spaghetti Print! When the MakerBot attempts to print an overhang without support (see our previous post on this) and the result is uncontrolled extrusion. This can have multiple causes, the main ones being:

  • Printing without support
  • Gantry slipping (see above)
  • Out of date firmware
  • Bad file data

It is important to determine if this happens for all prints or just one print in particular. If it is only happening to one file, ensure that the supports are enabled in the settings on MakerBot Desktop and try re-exporting. If it happens to all models, try updating the firmware. If none of these work, ask a member of staff and we will be able to diagnose it further.

My Model Won't Stick to the Build Plate/The Filament is Forming a Spaghetti Ball Around my Extruder


This are both symptoms of poor adhesion to the build plate. If the model can't form a strong attachment to the plate, it gets dragged around and stuck to the extruder. There are a couple of fixes for this and should be approached in the following order:

  • Ensure that kapton tape is applied to the build plate surface
  • Replace damaged kapton tape
  • Raise the build plate temperature to 120°c using the temperature settings in MakerBot Desktop

If problems are still occuring, ask a member of staff to take a look and we can try some other less common workarounds. DO NOT USE SUPERGLUE/UHU GLUE ON YOUR BUILD PLATE. Although some sources suggest this online, the glue can damage the print surface and there are other much less damaging fixes.

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