Extruder clicking noise, maybe motor fail or PCB damaged?


#1
Hello guys,
 
I am going crazy because few days ago the extruder of my M200 has started to do a clicking noise so I have made all the maintenance steps that ZORTRAX suggests on its web site, but no solution worked and the problem is still here.
In particular, I have done the following procedures:
 
1. filament spool correctly placed on the holder and free to rotate;
2. nozzle cleaning;
3. hotend V2 replacement with a just purchased new one (with new nozzle);
4. flat extruder cable replacement with a just purchased new one;
5. cleaning of the motor pulley from the material remains;
6. cleaning of the extruder bearing;
7. tried different Z-filaments without any good result.
 
Zortrax M200 clicking noise issue: with filament (Z-ABS) into the extruder
https://youtu.be/MEmMG0QW2do
 
I have then tried to let the estruder motor work executing the load and unload commands without inserting the filament, and in these cases the motor has always been free to move correctly with no clicking noise at all. It really looks like sometime the motor has not enough strenght to load the filament, but even if i try to push the filament from the top the clicking noise continues...
 
Zortrax M200 clicking noise issue: without filament into the extruder
https://youtu.be/2YLqlolqvDQ
 
Then I have also tried to load and unload some filament removing the hotend from the bottom of the extruder motor (it was anyway connected to the thermocouple and to the temperature sensor just to let the printer work correctly), anyway in this case the clicking noise appeared again, even if the filament was completely free to exit from the bottom of the extruder block!
 
Zortrax M200 clicking noise issue: hotend detached from the bottom of the extruder
https://youtu.be/G6zKkZr_obU
 
Now, when I print an object, the clicking noise appears every 15-20 seconds and it lasts from 2 to 5 seconds, and of course when the extruder is clicking there is no filament that comes out from the nozzle so the printed object shows incomplete or bad printed parts!
 
What do you think could it be the cause of this problem? Maybe the estruder motor is starting to fail? Or maybe the PCB is damaged? I don't know... 
Please someone help me, I am really going crazy because I don't understand what is the problem.
Thank you!
 
P.S.: I have already submitted this issue to Zortrax official support team (Hardware problem [ID: 10618] CRM:006000224) and they asked me to send them some videos of the problem but none of their answers has solved the problem at the moment...
 

#2

I would point towards another issue: Maybe there is missing some heat. If the heater is degraded the PID could do hard in holding the temp while printing.

I would check if setting a higher temp (10-20 degrees) give better results (if you have a temp hack) or try to print some Z-HIPS with the Z-ABS profile for example.


#3

I would point towards another issue: Maybe there is missing some heat. If the heater is degraded the PID could do hard in holding the temp while printing.

I would check if setting a higher temp (10-20 degrees) give better results (if you have a temp hack) or try to print some Z-HIPS with the Z-ABS profile for example.

Thank you countdigit for your answer, but as I said, I have also tried to load some filament removing the hotend from the bottom of the extruder motor (it was anyway connected to the thermocouple and to the temperature sensor just to let the printer work correctly), anyway in this case the clicking noise appeared again, even if the filament was completely free to exit from the bottom of the extruder block.

Please, have a look at the following video:

 
Zortrax M200 clicking noise issue: hotend detached from the bottom of the extruder
https://youtu.be/G6zKkZr_obU
 

Any other idea? Thank you.


#4

o.k., now I got it. :-)

I have spares, so I would just flip the motors for a test.

What I had was also a failing cable between the motor and the extruder PCB, but it looks like your problem has a more regular intervall and happens even if the print head doesn't move.

You are an electronics expert, couldn't you just measure the voltage from the controller?


#5

You are an electronics expert, couldn't you just measure the voltage from the controller?

It's the current that is significant, not the voltage, but a clamp-on meter or scope probe can show the current easily. But what's really important here is the torque, which is determined by the current and the field from the permanent magnets in the motor.


#6

It's the current that is significant, not the voltage, but a clamp-on meter or scope probe can show the current easily. But what's really important here is the torque, which is determined by the current and the field from the permanent magnets in the motor.

Thank you Julia for your reply ;-)

Apparently there is no identical case described in this forum, but I can't believe that I am just the first user to have encountered this issue with the M200.
I have already spent a lot of money to buy replacement parts from various Zortrax official resellers, but without getting any good result.
Now I guess there are only two main possible faulty parts: motherboard PCB or extruder stepper motor, but I refuse to continue to spend money also considering the the printer is still covered by legal two-years guarantee.
 
Now I would like that Zortrax could figure out what is the problem with my M200, offering me a valid solution and sending me the required replacement parts.
 
At the moment. I am still waiting for an official resolutive answer from Zortrax...

#7

With another printer (a Witbox) I had a similar problem.

It was just a bad ventilation of the motor drivers (pololus) on the motherboard.

Is he a fan that cools the motherboard?

Maybe check this ?


#8

Have you taken a close look at the presser bearing across from the feeder gear, I’ve had issues like this with other printers, the pressure this design puts on the little bearing and the off center load can make it self destruct internally, then you get these high friction moments that can look just like this.

If you remove the bearing and feel it turn and it feels crunchy or stiff, change it out, they can be found on McMaster-Carr very cheap.


#9
Ok guys, thank you for your tips, I have finally figured out what was causing that horrible clicking noise!
 
First of all I want to say thank you to axel, because he suggested me to check the fans. The big fan at the bottom of the printer, placed on the motherboard PCB, was correctly working, so I have used the test procedure of the M200 maintenence menu to check also the two small fans near the extruder.
 
I have so noticed that the lower fan was not working. So I have tried to swap the connectors on the extruder PCB just to check if it was a problem with the motor of that fan or not. Swapping the cable allowed me to figure out that both the fans were ok, so something was wrong with the cables or with the connectors...
 
At this point I have completely disassembled the extruder block for the second time, and I have decided to clean all the single parts with a nylon brush and isopropylic alcool: estruder PCB (components and connectors), feeder gear and presser bearing.
 
Since I suspected that the problem was mainly caused by the feeder gear (just because with no filament into the extruder block there is no clicking noise at all...), I decided to unscrew the feeder gear from the axis of the extruder stepper motor, so I cleaned it again with the nylon brush and isopropylic alcool, and then I screwed it again on the stepper motor but this time mounting it slightly closer to the end of axis (about 0.7 mm) just to slightly change the point of contact between the filament and the extruder gear (see the attached pictures).
 
Then I have reassembled all the parts and checked the extruder... and now it works correctly!
Even the lower fan is now ok: I guess there was some strange white coating on one of the pins of the male connector of the extruder PCB where the main flat cable is mounted.
 
So, I guess the clicking noise problem was caused by the sligtly worn feeder gear, even if the teeth of the gear appear not damaged.
 
Anyway, now my printer works again, and I wish to say a big thank you to all of you that helped me to figure out what was the issue!

#10

Super !

So if I understand correctly, you moved the gear toward the front of the printer ?

"So, I guess the clicking noise problem was caused by the sligtly worn feeder gear, even if the teeth of the gear appear not damaged."

I asked the same question when I had the "clicking noise problem" with my Witbox : the supplier replied that it was not possible because the gear is in stainless steel !

Are you print ABS + carbone ?


#11

Super !

So if I understand correctly, you moved the gear toward the front of the printer ?

"So, I guess the clicking noise problem was caused by the sligtly worn feeder gear, even if the teeth of the gear appear not damaged."

I asked the same question when I had the "clicking noise problem" with my Witbox : the supplier replied that it was not possible because the gear is in stainless steel !

Are you print ABS + carbone ?

Hi Axel,

Yes, that's right. I sligtly moved the gear of the extruder stepper motor toward the front of the printer, a little less than a millimeter.

I mostly use Z-ABS filaments, then Z-HIPS and Z-ULTRAT, sometime I use Z-GLASS, anyway I don't know if it has influenced the clicking noise with the gear but during the last good print before the clicking noise I used the Z-GLASS filament...

Anyway, now my M200 is printing without any problem again! ;-)


#12
I decided to unscrew the feeder gear from the axis of the extruder stepper motor, so I cleaned it again with the nylon brush and isopropylic alcool, and then I screwed it again on the stepper motor but this time mounting it slightly closer to the end of axis (about 0.7 mm) just to slightly change the point of contact between the filament and the extruder gear (see the attached pictures).

You, sir, are my hero. I've been wrestling with clicking myself here for the past two weeks. I've replaced pretty much everything except the motherboard, including the feed stepper. I saw your post last week but thought "no, that's too simple, it couldn't possibly solve my problem". In desperation, I decided today to give it a try - nothing to lose, right? I moved the gear forward to about flush with the end of the shaft... all clicking is completely gone. If I'm ever in Rome or you're ever in my neighborhood, I will be glad to buy you a nice dinner.


#13

You, sir, are my hero. I've been wrestling with clicking myself here for the past two weeks. I've replaced pretty much everything except the motherboard, including the feed stepper. I saw your post last week but thought "no, that's too simple, it couldn't possibly solve my problem". In desperation, I decided today to give it a try - nothing to lose, right? I moved the gear forward to about flush with the end of the shaft... all clicking is completely gone. If I'm ever in Rome or you're ever in my neighborhood, I will be glad to buy you a nice dinner.

Hi Julia, I am really happy that you solved the clicking noise problem too!  ;)

I guess that in the next months we will see more and more cases of this type of problem, maybe because it is caused by a progressive degradation of the feeder gear mounted on the extruder motor.

It would be amazing to visit the States, I have never been there...  ^_^


#14

Julia come to Rome, I will be happy to show you the city


#15

Hm, maybe I spoke too soon. I think the gear hack is maybe a band-aid and doesn't address the underlying problem. I believe it works by reducing the pressure on the bearing by driving the filament with just the back edge of the gear. This is marginal and can result in slippage if it's slightly off.


#16

Nice story !


#17

Hm, maybe I spoke too soon. I think the gear hack is maybe a band-aid and doesn't address the underlying problem. I believe it works by reducing the pressure on the bearing by driving the filament with just the back edge of the gear. This is marginal and can result in slippage if it's slightly off.

Hi Julia, I guess you moved the feeder gear too much toward the end of the axis of the stepper motor.

In my case this trick solved completely the clicking noise problem and I moved the feeder gear less than 1 mm (about 0.6 - 0.7 mm) toward the front of the printer (have a look at the previously attached pictures).

Anyway, if your M200 is still covered by legal guarantee, I think that Zortrax will be glad to help you, infact if the problem is caused by the extruder motor they could send you a replacement part.  :)


#18

OK, after literally weeks of wrestling with this and replacing, as I mentioned, almost everything on the printer, including the feed stepper motor, I think I - actually my husband gets the credit for the discovery - have the root cause. The threads on the machine screw that's being used as a shaft for the pressure bearing became worn down to the point where the "shaft" is no longer cylindrical, and this caused the bearing to cant and/or bind, resulting in motor clicking. You can see a "step" in the screw's profile in the photo. Changed the screw and am printing away without a single click, whereas a couple of hours ago I couldn't print anything.


#19

OK, after literally weeks of wrestling with this and replacing, as I mentioned, almost everything on the printer, including the feed stepper motor, I think I - actually my husband gets the credit for the discovery - have the root cause. The threads on the machine screw that's being used as a shaft for the pressure bearing became worn down to the point where the "shaft" is no longer cylindrical, and this caused the bearing to cant and/or bind, resulting in motor clicking. You can see a "step" in the screw's profile in the photo. Changed the screw and am printing away without a single click, whereas a couple of hours ago I couldn't print anything.

Are you married to Superman? You need X-ray eyes to see anything on that screw!


#20

The screw measures 2.85mm at the flat spot and 2.95 elsewhere. Really should be a precision, smooth, hardened shaft in this application if it's that touchy.

Not only has clicking now vanished on both printers, but print quality is significantly and obviously improved. I guess the screw shaft degradation happens gradually over time and we don't really notice, until one day we say "these prints look crappy (what did they do to the software?)" and then finally the nightmare of clicking sets in.