My Material Won't Flow!

Happy New Year from us at CATI to you. We hope everyone is doing well and prepared to tackle 2019 with us.

When you’re running your Dimension or Fortus printer from Stratasys, you already know how important it is that material flow from the head unit be as unimpeded as possible. However, things happen and sometimes that material just will not come out no matter how many buttons you push or wrenches you turn.

Now, depending on the class of system you have, there a few tricks and tips that at the very least can get you troubleshooting to the point that you understand the failure, but at the very best resolve the issue and get your machine back up and running to alleviate downtime.

If you have a Dimension machine, a lot of the troubleshooting for this type of issue can be done right on the head itself. Put the machine in Maintenance Mode so the head drives to the front of the machine, remove the head cover via the two tabs on either side and take a look. Often you’ll see a small bit of material stuck below that center drive wheel and the tip opening below. In this case, you can safely remove the tip with your provided T Handle, clear the jam (be careful not to hit those wires!) and replace the tip. In the case of a paused build, you may have to re-calibrate and restart. Always try to clear material without replacing the tip if you can as moving the tip will necessitate a new tip-to-tip calibration.

Tech Tip: sometimes your canister is the culprit. Always check to make sure your material isn’t crosswound or binding up by pulling out a few inches of material prior to loading.

Now, if you’re a Fortus user, your options are a little more limited, but you’ll have better control of the drive motors on top of the head. (This procedure works for 360/400, 900, and 450mc machines.)

First, after you’ve checked your canisters, get up on the ladder and pull the head over to you. You’ll notice two black rocker switches on the machine, these direct the head motors to drive material in and out of the tips on the head.

Hitting one side of the rocker or the other activates the head and tells it to heat up. You’ll see this on the control panel. You don’t need to necessarily touch anything, just wait for the head to reach temp and when it does, hit that button again. This sparks the machine to start driving the head motors to get that material moving. Keep in mind there could be a blockage, but given a visual inspection that shouldn’t be an issue.

The bottom line here is that sometimes there is more than meets the eye. To recap, always make sure you’re following proper safety procedures when handling the head units on these machines, have your tools handy, and keep an eye out for issues that may not be related to the head such as the canister, filament tubing, and perhaps even the material bay itself.

Robb Lauer
Application Engineer, Manufacturing Solutions
Computer Aided Technology, LLC

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