3D printer extruder slipping

8 Ways How to Fix a Clicking/Slipping Extruder on a 3D Printer – 3D Printerly

I’ve heard many stories of clicking and grinding noises coming from an extruder, but not many stories on getting them fixed. This is why I decided to make a simple-to-follow post on how to fix this noise.

The best way to fix a clicking/skipping sound on your 3D printer is to do a series of checks such as seeing if your nozzle is too close to the print bed, extrusion temperature is too low, printer can’t keep up with the speed, there’s a blockage in your nozzle or tube and if dust/debris is trapped in your extruder/gears.

Once you identify the issue, the fix is generally quite simple.

Clicking noises on your 3D printer usually means that it’s trying to push out filament but it can’t.

This can be due to many different reasons such as your nozzle is too close to the print bed, your stepper motor is losing steps, your extruder gears aren’t gripping the filament tightly enough, or you have issues with your bearings which hold pressure on the filament.

These are the main reasons but there are a few others which affect some people which I’ve detailed below.

Pro Tip: Get yourself one of the best metal hotend kits to improve your extrusion flow. The Micro Swiss All-Metal Hotend is a drop-in hotend that melts filament efficiently so the pressure doesn’t build up and contribute to a clicking/slipping extruder.

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1. Nozzle too Close to Print Bed

It could be from your nozzle being too close to the printer bed on the first few extruded layers.

The hard metal material of your nozzle scraping on your printing surface can easily cause a grinding noise from your 3D printer. If this is a problem you are experiencing, the fix is pretty easy.

How this causes your extruder to skip, which in turns causes the clicking sound, is by not having enough pressure build up to pass your filament through successfully.

You also want to make sure your 3D printer’s z-stop is in the correct place to prevent it from going too low on your printer.


Simply level your bed using the paper/card under the nozzle technique so there is a slight ‘give’. Once you’ve done all four corners, you’ll want to redo the four corners to make sure the levels aren’t off from the previous levelling, then also do the center to ensure your print bed level is good to go.

I wrote a useful post on How to Level Your 3D Printer Bed Properly which you can check out.

It’s a good idea to level your printer bed when it’s preheated because beds can slightly warp when heat is applied.

You can also run levelling print tests which are quick prints that show any levelling issues so you know if your extrusion is good enough or not.

The video below shows a more accurate, in-depth levelling method.

If you have a manual levelling bed, this is a lot more likely to occur.

Instead of always manually levelling your bed, you can let your 3D printer do the work for you, by implementing the popular BLTouch Auto-Bed Leveling Sensor from Amazon, which saves a bunch of time and frustration in setting up your 3D printer.

It works on any bed material and several users have described a significant increase in overall print quality and reliability. Being able to trust that your 3D printer is level every time gives you a genuine feeling of confidence in your machine, that is worth every penny.

2. Extrusion Temperature Too Low

When the clicking happens in layers past the first few extruded layers, it means your extrusion temperature is too low.

If your material isn’t melting fast enough because of a low extrusion temperature it can result in a clicking noise because your printer is having trouble advancing your filament.

Sometimes when speed settings are too fast, your extruder can find it hard to keep up.

When extrusion temperatures are too low, it can mean that your materials aren’t melting evenly. What happens in this case is the thermoplastic that is being extruded is thicker than it should be and doesn’t have good flow rates through to the nozzle.

If the cause of your extruder clicking is happening on your Ender 3, Prusa Mini, Prusa MK3s, Anet, or other FDM 3D printer the fix is fairly simple as shown below.


If this is your issue, the simple fix here is of course, to increase your printer’s temperature and things should be back to running properly.

3. Extruder Can’t Keep up with Printer Speed

If your printing speed is set too fast, your extruder can have trouble keeping up with the feed rates which can cause this clicking/slipping of the extruder. If this is your issue it’s a pretty easy fix.


Lower your print speed to 35mm/s then slowly work your way up in 5mm/s increments.

The reason this works is because in some cases, higher printer speeds works fine going at simple angles like a straight line, but when it comes to sharp turns and different degrees, your printer can have trouble extruding accurately at higher speeds.

Getting a higher quality extruder can definitely help out in this regard. I recently ordered a BMG Dual Drive Extruder from Amazon which works wonders.

Now you can either get the genuine Bontech, or the BondTech clone, you check the price difference and decide which to go for. One user who tried both did really ‘feel’ and see the difference in print quality with the more defined teeth and detail on the machined parts.

Check out my article on PLA 3D Printing Speed & Temperature.

If you experience your extruder clicking on infill, it could be to do with the print speed, as well as the nozzle temperature needing an increase.

4. A Blockage in Your Nozzle or PTFE Tubing Failure

Many times, your printer will give you this clicking noise when your nozzle is blocked. It’s because your printer isn’t printing as much plastic out as it thinks it should. When your nozzle is blocked up, the extrusion and pressure builds up which sets off your extruder to start slipping.

Another issue that’s related is the thermal break between the heater block and the heat sink, where heat works its way up to the heat sink and if not fully functional, can cause plastic to deform slightly.

This can result in the plastic forming a plug, or small blockage on the cold side and can happen at random points throughout the print.


Give your nozzle a good cleaning, maybe even a cold pull if the blockage is bad enough. I’ve done a pretty detailed post about Unclogging a Jammed Nozzle which many have found useful.

The solution for the thermal break and bad quality heat sink is to lower your temperature or get a more efficient heat sink.

A faulty PTFE tube can easily go unnoticed for a while before you realize it is messing with your prints.

For the serious 3D printer hobbyists out there, we have access to a premium PTFE tube called the Creality Capricorn PTFE Bowden Tube from Amazon. The reason this tubing is so popular is just how well it works and it’s long-term durability.

The Capricorn PTFE tube has extremely low friction so filament can travel freely. It’s more responsive, leading to more accuracy in prints along with having a lesser need for retraction settings which saves you time.

You’re getting less slippage, wear and tear on your extruder, and most beneficial is the significantly higher level of temperature resistance.

It comes with a cool tube cutter too!

Some people that experience their extruder clicking backwards found that it can be fixed by clearing out clogs.

5. Dust/Debris Trapped in the Extruder and Gears

Your extruder and gears are constantly working and apply constant pressure to your filament as it gets extruded. While this is happening, your extruder and gears will be biting down on your filament which, over time, can leave dust and debris within these parts.


If you wanted to do a quick-fix, you could just give the extruder a hearty exhale and if it’s not built up too bad, should do the trick. Make sure you are not breathing in the dust though.

It might not be enough doing this or just wiping down the extruder from the outside.

Using a damp paper towel should be able to get most of the debris off without pushing it around.

The most effective solution here would be taking it apart and giving it a thorough wipe down to make sure you get the offending dust and debris trapped inside.

The simple fix here would be to:

  • Switch off your printer
  • Undo the screws for your extruder
  • Remove the fan and feeder assembly
  • Clean out the debris
  • Refit the fan and feeder and it should work smoothly again.

The type and quality of your filament could also affect this, so try out a few different filament brands and see which one works best for you. Filament that tends to get brittle like PLA are more likely to result in this issue, as opposed to TPU.

6. Gear Slip Issues From Idler Axle Sliding Out of Axle Support

This issue happened to a Prusa MK3S user and it resulted in a clicking as well as the idler gear slipping. It would cause under-extrusion and be responsible for many failed prints, but he came up with a great solution.


He designed an Idle Gear Axle Stabilizer which can be found on Thingiverse and it removes the holes from the axle support so there isn’t any room for the axle to slip around.

The idle gear axle should snap firmly into place and still leave the gear free to move as it was intended. The user has now been printing for hundreds of hours over many months with this stabilizer in place and it’s working great.

7. Extruder Motor is Improperly Calibrated Or Low Stepper Voltage

This reason is more of a rare one but it’s still possible and has happened to some users out there. If you’ve tried many of the other solutions and they aren’t working, this may be your problem.

A loose or broken power connection can cause your printer’s motor to run sporadically, causing a slow feed to the print head. If you experience this issue, you could also experience this clicking noise in the printing process.

Whether it’s due to bad or weak cables it’s an issue that can be solved once you identify this issue.

Manufacturers can sometimes be at fault here by issuing power accessories that don’t get the job done as well as they should over time.

You want to double-check the wheel on your extruder is fitted well and isn’t slipping on the feeder motor.


Make sure power connections are well-fitted and don’t have snags or damage to the cables. Check that your power cable is strong enough to handle your printer and has the correct voltage to give proper power.

You can purchase a new power cable or power supply if you suspect that this is the issue.

8. Filament Feeder Issues Due to Bad Filament Spring Tension

High spring tension can grind away at your material, leaving a deformed shape and slower movement. This can result in a clicking noise, as detailed previously.

When your filament isn’t fed through properly, you’ll get uneven extrusion similar to having a printing temperature that’s too low. You can get these filament feeder issues from having an improper spring tension on your printer’s extruder.

If your printer’s spring tension is too low, the wheel that grips the material won’t be able to generate enough pressure to consistently move the material through the printer.

If your printer’s spring tension is too high, the wheel will grip your material with too much force and cause it to deform and change shape. You’re printing material has tolerances set for how wide it can be usually in the 0.02mm range for 1.75mm filament.

You can see the problem that can occur if the material is squeezed and deformed.

Printing materials will find it hard to pass through the tube and when it gets further down the printer, it won’t feed through as good as it needs to print smoothly.


Your solution here is to tighten or loosen the spring tension by adjusting the screw, or to buy a completely new feeder.

If you have a cheaper printer, I would recommend buying a new feeder, but if you have a higher quality printer that doesn’t usually have spring tension issues, you shouldn’t have to purchase a new feeder.

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6 Main causes of extruder clicking and gears slipping・Cults

Here is an article for all those who want to know why the extruder is slipping or clicking, why they are having under extrusion issues, or printer not printing correctly. This article was written and illustrated by Peter Solomon, founder of Wham Bam.

Most people think it's the extruder, but, although this is possible, it's usually an indication of something jamming further down the line.

1. Print speed too high or temperature too low.

Try on-the-fly, during print, to use your control panel to increase heat by 5° -10°C and slow down feed rate, see if either of these alleviates the problem. Frequently recommended print temps are lower than those actually needed.

2. Interference in Bowden tube or pathway.

This is a big one, before breaking down your whole hot end and redoing nozzle, always check your PTFE clearance first!
To test, remove end of tube from hot end (leave other end in extruder) and squeeze your extruder arm to manually push filament or filament past the extruder and through PTFE tube, if it moves smoothly, your problem is elsewhere.

If it is difficult, first look at the end that was in the extruder, is this melted, dirty, deformed? If so, snip a bit off and see if that resolved it.
Also test your PTFE tube separately with your same filament and see if there is any resistance, if so change your tube. If not check the couplings.

Please note I have found the inner diameter of some PTFE tubes including the Capricorn XS to be too tight for many filaments which may have a variance in diameter a bit larger than specified, and would stop my prints making me think there was a clog, when instead it was just the tube.

3. Assembly of hot end and / or Bowden tube too loose.

If there is any play in your Hot End Coupling and the Bowden tube can move up or down, or if there is any gap between the bowden tube and the heat break inside the hot end, or the heat break and the nozzle, or between any fitting, the molten material can get into that gap, swell beyond the diameter of the tube and make it difficult to move. This can cause jams, under extrusion, or full blockage. Inspect your ends of filament when you pull them out of the tube, if they have a bulb on the end this might be the case.
To alleviate make sure to rebuild hot end in the proper order and tightly to avoid any gaps in the passage.
See my previous post concerning the hot end cleaning and assembly for more info.

4. Clogged Hot End.

To test, while hot end is fully heated, try squeezing extruder arm to compress spring, can you push the filament through, does it come out the nozzle? If not, it may be clogged. You can also remove the PTFE tube and manually push filament through your hot end while hot to see if it comes out smoothly.

If you have a clog you must take apart whole hot end assembly.

Loosen the nozzle while at full temp. Let cool and take hot end off of the carriage, remove the thermistor and heater, remove the coupling, unscrew nozzle, unscrew inner collar, clear all parts, you can use a small butane torch to melt the plastic inside if it is too clogged, but be careful.
If the nozzle is badly clogged toss it! get 10 for $10 online.
Re-assemble carefully and following good instructions to ensure that all is snug.

5. Faulty Extruder.

Check to see if the spring puts enough pressure on the hob gear and bearing to squeeze the filament, try manually squeezing the gears together while feeding to test.
Make sure toothed extruder gear teeth are clean, use a wire brush to get them clean.

Make sure the active center of gears and bearing are at the height of the filament path.

6. Nozzle too close to Bed.

If your nozzle is too close to bed you may be choking the flow of filament and preventing the extrusion, you can verify this if your first layer is just too thin or has gaps.
For more information discover my previous article concerning the 7 main factors in getting the perfect 3D printing first layer.

(please note the illustration is a simplified image showing a typical Bowden system, direct drive would be different, there are a variety of extruders and hot ends so use this only as reference)

6 Top causes of extruder slamming and gear slippage・Cults

Here's an article for those who want to know why his extruder pops up, why the filament slips, and why the 3D printer doesn't work properly. This article was written and illustrated by Peter Solomon , founder of Wham Bam.

Most people think it's the extruder, but while it's possible, it's usually a sign that something is stuck further down the chain.

1. The 3D printing speed is too high or the temperature is too low.

Try on the fly while printing, use the control panel to increase the temperature by 5°-10°C and slow down the print speed, see if these factors fix the problem. Often the recommended print time is less than what is actually needed.

2. Interference in tube or Bowden channel.

Always check the Teflon kit first before disassembling the hot end and re-nozzle!
To check, disconnect the end of the tube from the hot end (leave the other end in the extruder) and squeeze the extruder lever to manually push the filament in front of the extruder and through the Teflon tube, if the movement is smooth, your problem is elsewhere.

If this is difficult, first look at the end that was in the extruder, is it melted, dirty, deformed? If yes, trim it a bit and see if that solves the problem.
Also test your PTFE tubing separately with the same thread and see if there is resistance, if so, replace the tubing. If not, check the couplings.

Please note that some PTFE tubing, including Capricorn XS, was found to be too narrow in ID for many of the threads, which may vary slightly in diameter from what is listed, which would prevent me from thinking there was a plug when it was just tubing.

3. Hot end and/or Bowden tube assembly too loose.

If there is slack in the hot end fitting and the Bowden tube can move up or down, or if there is a gap between the Bowden tube and the thermal break inside the hot end, or the thermal break and the nozzle, or between any fitting, molten material can enter the gap, swell larger than the tube diameter and make it difficult to move. This can result in jamming, under extrusion, or complete blockage. Inspect the ends of the thread when removing them from the tube, if there is a blister at the end, then this may be the case.
To make it easier, make sure you rebuild the hot part in the correct order and tight to avoid any gaps in the passage.
Read my previous article on cleaning and reassembling the 3D Print Head for more information.

4. Plugged hot end.

To check when the hot end is fully heated, try squeezing the extruder arm to compress the spring, can you push the filament out of the nozzle? If not, it might be clogged. You can also remove the PTFE tube and manually push the filament through the hot end while it's hot to see if it comes out smoothly.

If you have a blockage, you need to disassemble the hot end assembly.

Loosen nozzle at full temperature. Let cool and remove the hot end from the cart, remove the thermistor and heater, remove the fitting, unscrew the nozzle, unscrew the inner collar, remove all parts, you can use a small butane torch to melt the plastic inside if it is too clogged, but be careful.
If the nozzle is heavily clogged, discard it! Get 10 for $10 online.
Reassemble following the instructions carefully to make sure everything is tight.

5. Defective extruder.

Check if the spring is putting enough pressure on the gear and hot plate bearing to pinch the thread, try to manually pinch the gears together while feeding to check.
Make sure the teeth of the extruder gears are clean, use a wire brush to clean them.

Check that the active center of the gears and the bearing is flush with the filament path.

6. Nozzle too close to roller.

If your nozzle is too close to the plate, you can choke the filament flow and prevent extrusion. You can test this if your first layer is too thin or has gaps.
Find out more in my article on the top factors for a perfect first layer print.

(Please note the illustration is a simplified image showing a typical Bowden system, direct drive will be different, there are various extruders and thermal extruders, so please use this as a reference only)

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