3D Printed Change MakerBot filament. Source: WhiteClouds
3D Printed Change MakerBot filament. Source: WhiteClouds

As a MakerBot 3D printer owner, sooner or later, you’re going to want to change the filament in your printer. There a few reasons why you might want to do this. Maybe you want to do a project that has multiple colors so you need to change the filament color midway through the print. Or, some of the maintenance routines, like cleaning the extruder drive gear, require you to remove the filament. Another reason you have to change the filament is if you’re in the middle of a project and the filament spool is going to run out. In this case, you’ll need to replace the spool of filament before it runs out or your project will get ruined.

Regardless of why you need to change your filament, this article will explain how to do it. We will cover how to change the filament before or after a print and how to change the filament mid print.

How to Change the Filament Before or After a Print

Turn on your MakerBot Replicator 2.

From the main menu, click Utilities > Change Filament > Unload. You will see the message, “Please wait while I heat my extruder.” After the MakerBot’s extruder is hot, the drive gear will push the filament out. You will receive a message to pull out the filament.

Remove the guide tube and carefully pull the filament out of the extruder.

Once the filament is completely removed, press the center button “M” to exit.    

Before loading the new filament, ensure it has clean a end. If the filament has been previously unloaded, it may have a tapered, melted end that will need to be clipped off.

From the main menu, click Utilities > Change Filament > Load. Follow the directions on the LED screen. When prompted, push the filament into the extruder until you feel it pull in the filament. The filament should smoothly stream from the nozzle.

Click “M” to exit and remove the extruded filament.

How to Change the Filament During a Print

While in the middle of a print, push the Left Arrow button to bring up the main menu. From the main menu, click Utilities > Change Filament > Unload. The build plate will lower and the extruder will move to a rest position. The MakerBot will guide you through removing the filament. Gently remove the filament from the extruder and click “M” to exit.

Click Utilities > Change Filament > Load and follow the instructions to load the filament. You’ll feel the extruder pull the filament in and a smooth stream of filament should come from the nozzle.

Click “M” to exit.

Click Resume Build and your Makerbot Replicator2 will return to printing your project where it left off. You can now click the left arrow button to return to the progress screen that tells you the temperature of the extruder and what percentage of the project is done. 

Though PLA is known for being more resilient to humidity than ABS, it’s still a good idea to keep your filament in a sealed bag with a moisture-absorbing silica packet. This will prevent the filament from swelling and it will be ready to use next time you want to load the filament into your printer.

The ability to load and unload filament allows you to print 3D projects with multiple colors and it will save you the frustration of having your printer run out of filament mid print.