Grinding happens when the motor tries to push the filament through the nozzle but for whatever reason it starts to slip on the filament and instead grinds the plastic down. The more it grinds the filament the less grip it is able to get and very soon it will not be able to move the filament neither in nor out.
This is more common on the Ultimaker Original but it can also happen on the Ultimaker2. To help prevent this problem on the UM2 the feeder motor current is deliberately limited so that the motor will skip back before starting to grind the filament down.
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What prevents the feeder from moving the material forward properly can differ and what follows is a few things you will want to check. The amount of pressure that the feeder puts on your filament is adjustable via a small hidden screw accessed at the top of the feeder.
To the right of where the bowden tube enters the feeder there is a small hole into which you can insert a hex driver to adjust the tension. The current setting can be seen on the little white dial right below this hole. When the dial is in the upper position the pressure is low and vice versa. An unfortunate bug in the firmware of the UM2 can cause grinding to happen at the start of a print due to excessive priming speed. Please make sure that you use the firmware that shipped with cura You can download the latest version of cura here: Software download.
The print head of the UM2 has three fans, the two print cooling fans on the left and right side and what we call the third fan that is located at the back of the head. Depending on how old your printer is the fan should turn on as soon as the printer is powered on or as soon as the print head reaches a temperature of more than 40C. The function of this fan is to cool the zone of the print head where the plastic goes from liquid to solid, it is important that there is a sharp distinction between these two zones and that heat doesn't travel upwards in the system.
If the third fan is not running heat will travel up in the system and soften the filament much higher up than intended. The softened filament will then expand and cause a clog that will make it impossible to print until it is removed. If you find that the fan is not running you should check that the fan is properly connected. The connector is hidden under the black wire mesh guard and you will need to move it out of the way. It may be that the mesh has heat shrink tubing that need to be removed before you are able to move the mesh out of the way. Use a small scissor or pliers and carefully cut the tubing away being careful not to cut any cables.
The heat shrink tubing is cosmetic and removing it will not impact performance in any way. Trace the wire from the fan to it's connector.
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The fan should connect to an orange and blue wire. Tug gently on the connection to make sure it is solidly connected and check that it hasn't somehow been connected in reverse. This image shows a proper connection. Notice how the little "hooks" secure the two connectors together. Also take note of the colour order of the wires. There have been a couple of cases in other words, rare that the wires have been assembled in the wrong order. In this case one of the internal metallic connectors have slipped out of the housing. This may cause intermittent behaviour in which the fan turns on only when the print head is in certain positions.
It is important that you fix this and you will start by first disconnecting the fan and then gently pulling the loose wire out completely. Inspect the connector and see that the little retaining barb on the top is bent outward. Then re-insert the wire into the housing all the way until you hear a faint click as the little barb snaps into place.
It can be difficult to hear this so take a look and check that the wire is indeed fully inserted. Give the wires a little tug to check that they are held securely in place.
Finally re-connect the fan. It is possible that plastic is clogging up the knurled surface that is supposed to grip into the filament. Usually blowing sharply at the surface will get rid of the debris but using a small brush, like a toothbrush, is helpful to make sure the surface is nice and clean.
It is especially important to clean the sleeve after you have had a grind as it is then very likely it will be full of plastic shavings.
This one is a bit more obscure but we've seen a couple of cases where the shaft of the feeder motor gets so hot that it heats up the filament to the point where it gets slightly soft. Due to the extra heat the filament will start to deform and flatten out which in turn leads to extrusion problems.
Prints with a lot of retractions are of course affected more than a print where the filament is steadily feeding into the printer. This seems to be more of a problem when the printer is located in a place with already very high ambient temperatures. If you suspect this is happening on your printer you can try the following to see if it helps.
Remove the white metal cover that hides the stepper motor and then direct a fan at the stepper to cool it down. You could also possibly try to cool the area down from behind the printer but it's harder since there is so little of the shaft exposed. The firmware has detected that the temperature sensor of the bed is reporting incorrect values. Without proper feedback from the sensor the firmware can't control the bed heat so to protect the printer and for safety reasons the firmware will prevent you from using the printer until this problem is fixed.
Important warranty note: before you perform any of these steps you must contact the Ultimaker support team first. The easiest thing to check is the connector on the heated bed so let's start there. Follow the cables that connect to the bed. There will be four wires two thick ones and two thinner ones. The sensor wires are the thinner ones. Try tugging gently on these wires and make sure that they are securely fastened. If they are not properly secured you will need to remove the heated bed so that you can access the connector and re-seat the wires properly.
If any of the wires are loose you will need to remove the heated bed so that you can reach the connector. Start by removing the strain relief that hold the wires to the bed. The bed is held in place by three screws that connect to the three thumbscrews on the underside of the build plate.
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Unscrew all three screws completely and lift the bed off. Be ready to catch the thumbscrews as they are not held in place. You will now have full access to the bed connector and it should be straight forward to re-insert the wires and tighten them into place. While you have access you should also inspect the solder joints that hold the connector to the heated bed.
Check for cracks or other damage. If you find a bad connection you will need to re-flow the solder joints. If you are not comfortable doing this yourself then maybe you know someone who has experience with a soldering iron. If not, get in contact with us and we'll make sure to get it fixed for you. Now check that the sensor is properly plugged into the PCB at the bottom of your printer.
To access the PCB you will need to remove the protective metal cover. There are two metal covers, the one you want to remove is the bigger one. The cover is held in place by a couple of screws that you unscrew from inside the print area of the printer. Start by lifting the bed out of the way by grabbing the bed with both hands as close to the back of the printer as possible and lifting it straight up.
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Lay the machine on its side and remove the two screws and finally remove the cover, it might take a bit of wiggling back and forth to dislodge the cover. The sensor cable is white and brown and should be connected to "Temp3" on the PCB:. Check that the white and brown cable is inserted into "Temp3". As the print head is completing a top layer travel moves can cause ugly lines to appear.
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This can be caused by a couple of things. Either the head is making an actual scratch on the surface or you are seeing slight oozing of plastic during the travel move. This feature will make the printer lift the nozzle a tiny amount just before making a travel move and then move back down once it arrives at the destination.
In combination with this you can increase the speed at which the printer executes travel moves. The faster move will reduce the amount of time the nozzle can ooze out plastic. Also consider lowering your temperature to further reduce oozing. This will force cura to always retract before performing a travel move.
This may add a bit of printing time as a retraction doesn't happen instantly.
A side effect of the z-hop feature is that it can leave behind a tiny little blob. However, a small blob is far less visible and easier to remove than a scratch. This effect is more prone to happen on surfaces which are broken up by holes since the head needs to move around more. By adding a thin solid layer on top of the object he was able to reduce the travel moves significantly.