What Is A Filament Oiler In 3D Printing? Should You Lubricate Your 3D Printer


An oiler is simply a container tool with a wide area where you can put a sponge and a nozzle in one end, used to dust off filament that comes from the filament roll through to the extruder. In most cases, the filaments are subject to gathering dust wherever they are stored and may affect the print quality or the 3D printer itself when not cleaned properly in the process. 

You can also print one with your 3d Printer. Check out the video below for a better picture of what is a Filament oiler,

There are a lot of things concerning oiling your 3D printer you would find out as you read further through the article.

If you are wondering how long a 3D printer can work, check out How often do 3D printers need a break? A go-to guide for 3D printers

3D Printing Is Here To Stay

Do 3D printers need to be oiled?

3D printers are very delicate machines made from plastic and metal parts. Therefore, they must be kept safe through routine cleaning, maintenance, and regular servicing. To manage your 3D printers properly, you need lubrication or oiling in the moving parts.

Light machine oil is a commonly used lubricant in the 3D printing world.

Also, find out How Long Do 3D Printers Last? (Essential Maintenance Tips !)

Parts of a 3D printer that requires lubrication

Basically, all moving parts in a 3D part at least require lubrication for smooth operation, without operational errors and friction-related wear. The type of contact will dictate the best lubricant to use. A heavy oil lubricant will create a thick layer between the two contact parts, making it stay intact under heavy load and reducing the chances of corrosion.

Whereas a light oil lubricant is good for movement with less protection.

The most crucial parts that must be lubricated include:

  • The Z-axis threaded rod and nut that helps in moving the print-head from the bed in terms of height.
  • The X-Y guide rails for the print-bed and the print-head.
  • The bearings fastened along the printer’s railings for movement.

The type of 3D printer lubricant to go will depend on two main factors:

  • How the oil lubricant affects the smooth movement of the 3D printer parts.
  • How well the oil lubricant prevents direct plastic-on-metal or metal-on-metal contact. (Source)

 How should I lubricate my 3D printer?

Irrespective of the type of lubricant you use, the lubrication steps remain the same across all lubricants. Let us have a look at the simple steps of carrying out lubrication for your 3D printer.

  • Clean all parts set to be lubricated thoroughly to ensure remnants of the previous lubricants do not mix with the new one and leave it to dry. This can be achieved using alcohol cleaner. You should use acetone cleaner as it is corrosive, hence may eat through the plastic.
  • Apply the oil lubricant, spacing it out at equal distances depending on the type of lubricant you have chosen to use. Use an applicator to spread the oil lubricant. It is advisable that you use rubber gloves while carrying out this to ensure the lubricant does not get in contact with your skin.  
  • Move the lubricated parts from one side to another once you have successfully spread the lubricant on all moving parts. This will eliminate friction.
  • Check to ensure that you have not applied excess lubricant as this may make it hard to move the lubricated parts which is in contrary to what it intends to achieve. In case you realize that you have applied excess lubricant, wipe out the excess lubricant gently using a paper towel, while running the lubricated parts along its axes to confirm that the movement is smooth.

How often am I expected to lubricate my 3D printer?

Knowing how often you need to lubricate your 3D printer is an exercise that requires analysis. This varies based on the factors below:

  • The location of your 3D printer
  • The temperatures you run your 3D printer (how hot)
  • The type of lubricant you choose to use.

However, the most obvious sign of a 3D printer that needs lubrication is a squeaking sound coming from any of the rods or the print head moves. In case you experience heat buildup or significant burden to movement, you should apply a lubricant immediately without thinking further.

A poorly lubricated printer will definitely result in poor print quality.

In case your 3D printer is located in a dusty room, the dust particles may build up on the lubricant layers of the lubricated parts, reducing the effectiveness of the lubricant.

You should service and maintain your 3D printer monthly if you use the printer regularly. Also, check on the manufacture’s instructions on how often you are expected to carry out lubrication and which lubricant to use.

How do you lubricate filaments in 3D printing?

Lubricating filaments in 3D printing requires a lot of caution, especially on the type of lubricant you choose to use. However, you can use the universal 3D-print filament filter to carry out the filament lubrication. This accessory has a sponge that helps in cleaning the filament from dust and prevents them from clogging the nozzle.

Drop a few mineral oils on the sponge to help lubricate your filament whenever it passes through the sponge, easing the extruder motor from any strain. Filament lubrication is important in situations where the filament is expected to pass through long tubes before reaching the extruder.

We also highly recommend that you check out our post on “how to clean your 3D nozzle when clogged. and more importantly ” Why Does Your 3D Printer Keep Clogging? Potential Reasons Listed!

Is PLA oil resistant?

Oiling PLA might be okay for just a short-term exposure but lubricating PLA over a long period may cause softening or swelling, but not dissolve fully.

This is a question that we cannot conclusively answer! This will largely depend on the type of plasticizers, the melt reducers blended, and the composition of the blend in PLA. PLA is not good for automotive use because of its extremely low glass point feature.

Can you use WD 40 on a 3D printer?

WD 40 was never designed to serve as a lubricant. Instead, it’s a solution for rust removal and protection. If you leave this solution on your 3D printer’s metals parts for an extended period of time, it will tend to react with the metal.

Avoid using WD 40 on a 3D printer. While it may be tempting to use WD 40 to lubricate your 3D printer since it is readily available in our toolbox or workshops at home, it is one of the worst mistakes you can do!

Conclusion

Just like other machines with moving parts, friction will greatly affect the operation and efficiency of your 3D printer. As the 3D print head moves along the vertical and horizontal rails, the contact between the rods and the bearings will generate friction with no doubt.

If this is left to run overtime without address, the excessive friction is likely to wear down your 3D printer.

Excessive heat generation due to friction will also lead to the stepper motor drawing more power than required, leading to overheating. This will in turn affect the 3D print quality. You can check out our article on what happens if you overheat your 3D print.

However, it only takes regular lubrication of your 3D printer’s moving parts to forget about the friction headache. You also need to know the type of lubricant to use on your 3D printer and how to properly apply it.

In case you have any queries about 3D printing technology, do not hesitate to contact us! At 3D Print Schooling, you will get well-researched content that will enlighten you on any information you may need within the 3D printing technology.

sherifjallad

I am a very well experienced techie civil engineer who's extensively interested in 3D printing technology and even more captivated by the potential of 3D printing livable structures

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