The feeder is ticking back/skipping

A skipping/ticking feeder may occur when the feeder motor experiences too much friction whilst pushing material forward. You will be able to hear the feeder skip/tick back and will also notice that material is not moving forward or falls back a bit every time you hear the ticking sound. If you do nothing about this, your material will eventually flatten, as the knurled wheel of the feeder keeps moving over the same piece of material. This may then lead to signs of under-extrusion in your 3D printer.

Note: This feeder issue most often occurs on the Ultimaker 2, Ultimaker 2 Extended or Ultimaker 2 Go. Other Ultimakers have a stronger feeder motor, so there’s a much smaller chance that this behavior is likely to occur.

To resolve this type of feeder issue, it’s important to diagnose exactly when the sound occurs: does it only happen during the first (few) layer(s) of the 3D print process, or throughout the whole printing process?

The feeder is skipping on the first (few) layer(s)

If the feeder is only skipping over the first few layers, then it is likely that the nozzle is too close to the build plate, thus preventing the material from properly extruding from the nozzle. Keep a close eye on where the print head is when you hear the skipping/ticking sound, and you’ll probably notice that the skipping sound occurs only when the print head is on a certain side of the build plate, meaning that it’s leveled too tight on that side.

When this happens, we recommend that you take a look at this page to see what the first layer of the print should look like. If it transpires that the build plate is too tight to the nozzle, then you will have to re-level the build plate.

The feeder is skipping continuously

If the feeder skips throughout the whole print process, there could be multiple causes for this issue:

  • the feeder tension is not set correctly
  • the material is spooled too tight (at the end of the spool)
  • the filament has an incorrect or inconsistent diameter (when using a third party filament)
  • there is friction in the Bowden tube or hot end, and your prints will also show signs of under-extrusion. In this case, we recommend taking a look at the page topic dedicated to fixing under-extrusion.

The feeder tension is incorrect

It is important not to set the feeder tension too low as this may result in the feeder not having enough grip on the material, thereby causing slippage. If this is the case, then you will also notice that the teeth-marks on the filament are barely visible. If the tension on the feeder is set correctly, then the marks on the filament should resemble the picture below.

With a good feeder tension marks are visible

If you need to adjust the feeder tension, please take a look at the relevant instruction pages from the manual for your printer model:

The material causes problems

At the end of the spool the material is usually coiled tightly. In some cases, however,  this can cause the feeder to skip, because of friction caused by the curved shape of the filament. In this case, you can try to straighten the material out a bit. Sometimes, though, it is better to put on a new spool of filament.

Another material-related issue concerns the diameter and consistency of the material. Although Ultimaker materials are of a high quality, sometimes when you’re using a third party material, which doesn’t match the same quality standard, you could experience problems. Therefore it is important to always check the filament diameter - which should be 2.85 mm - and watch for consistency of this diameter range. If the diameter varies too much throughout the spool, you will probably end up with feeder and/or extrusion problems.

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