New Tech Frustration- 3Doodler Nozzle Removal Problems- Updated- Solved! Update 2- Even More Problems…

by Courtney C Horne @FireezDragon

I recently got a 3doodler in the mail. I kickstarted it (my first use of kickstarter) and had been eagerly awaiting it.

And it was great until I had to solve a bad jam in the machine. I expect it to jam- the nature of the extrusion makes that basically inevitable. What I didn’t expect was for it to be unsolvable.

Their site instructs you, in the case of bad blockage or jams that can’t be cleared by gently pushing on the feed plastic, to remove the extrusion nozzle. It advises that this is best done with the machine is warm and to use pliers or a wrench. Well I tried with different sets of pliers, various wrenches (including a 6mm that another user reported removed theirs), and at a variety of temperatures. It quickly became apparent that the plastic would crack long before the nozzle budged.

I put in an email to customer support but given the holiday season I am not sure how long it will take to hear back. Which is a shame because the bit I got to use my pen, before it became blocked and I discovered my damaged nozzle, was really enjoyable.

Adding to the frustration, I looked around online quite a bit (on the comments for the kickstarter, on facebook, and just googling) and no one else seems to have had the same problem as I have. Whatever happened to my nozzle during production to cause it to be unmovable seems to have been a fluke. Which is great for other people but really frustrating for me because it means there are no suggestions on how to deal with it.

Hopefully I will hear back from their support team soon and they will remedy the situation. I already have a plastic purchase in mind and need a working pen!

Update (12/29/2013):

After getting advice from another user that warm was not good enough, I got my pen realllly hot and tried removal. Probably not the safest method (which is I am sure why their FAQ does not recommend it). I let the pen heat up and stay hot for a few minutes and then it finally came off!!

Then I found the reason it wouldn’t unscrew. The threads were full of gunk. The residue did not seem to look like it came from the plastic I had used but I guess it is possible that it was some weird mix. However, it is hard to imagine the plastic working it’s way into the threads like that during normal use. I am not sure if the residue was something leftover from production. Either way it was sticky – even when the nozzle was cool- and had completely filled up the threads. I scraped it out using the tip of a needle to get clean threads and then put the nozzle soaking in acetone.

Hopefully this will help other people solve the problem since the FAQ would never have led me to try this method. And if you are reading this before use, I would recommend taking the nozzle off before use to check the threads for any residue and clean them if needed.

Update 2 (12/31/2013):

I am having more trouble with the pen. I never got any emails back from customer support. I had let them know that I got the nozzle off but I heard no possible explanations about the residue. I got some replies from them on the post I made on their facebook page but unfortunately they essentially just quoted the FAQ over and over… They said stuff that seemed to have no relation to what I said- like they hadn’t even read it.

They also appear to have disappeared the post about my problems because I can not see it if I go to their page and click “posts from others” and scroll through them. I am thoroughly frustrated with dealing with them.

Plus now the pen is only sorta working. Some of the internal parts bent out of place. Not sure if it happened when were struggling to remove the nozzle or what. Because of that, things aren’t lining up well. The situation is fixable, and we are handling it ourselves as I have had it with their customer support.

I wouldn’t recommend buying one unless you feel confident you can handle problems yourself. Judging by the pens cheap feeling construction it is not an “if it will break” but a “when it will break.” I still am glad I have it- I am really excited by the concept but the construction and design flaws are frustrating and combined with the basically useless FAQ (that claims a lack of maintenance needs which is absolutely laughable- it clearly needs regular cleaning) it becomes clear that this is not a device for someone who doesn’t have technical resources at their disposal.

I am going to post an in depth review with some images once I have the pen up and running again.