How to Lubricate a 3D Printer? Step By Step Detailed Guide

One of the big mistakes I made, and many other 3D printer users make, is not caring enough about their 3D printer. You might be thinking, “I care about my 3D printer and clean it almost every week.” Well, that’s great, but by “care,” I mean how often do you lubricate your 3D printer? 

Just as you get your car’s engine, wheels, and gears lubricated at a car service station, you also need to lubricate your 3D printer parts to increase the longevity and print quality of your 3D printer. Don’t worry; you don’t have to go to any 3D printer service station. Just follow this step-by-step guide to learn how you can lubricate your 3D printer.

How to Lubricate a 3D Printer?

First, you have to know which parts need to be lubricated. In a 3D printer, mainly linear rails, rods, bearings and lead screws require lubrication. Then, choose the type of lubricant you want to use, such as PTFE-based, silicone-based, or graphite-based lubricants. Each has its own advantages over the others. Then, clean the part thoroughly and apply it properly, not too much or too little.

Parts that needs lubrication

A 3D printer has many parts, and not every part needs to be lubricated. Beginners might think that stepper motors need lubrication, but it’s not necessary since they are brushless motors, which require no lubrication.

Here are a few 3D printer parts that need lubrication:

Linear rails and smooth rods:  Some 3D printers work on linear rails, while others use smooth rods. These are the main components that allow your hot-end and bed to move in the XYZ axis. As they move, your hot end and heat bed move as well. 

If these components are not moving properly due to friction caused by the lack of lubrication, your print quality will suffer. Therefore, these components need to be lubricated frequently to reduce friction and increase longevity.

Lead Screws:  Lead screws are responsible for Z axis movement of your 3D printer. It lifts the X axis on bed slinger or lifts the Heatbed on corexy, Lubricating lead screws will make sure the smooth and consistent Z axis movement without much friction and scratching noise.

Bearings: Bearings are another important part of a 3D printer. When I mention bearings, I mean all the bearings in your 3D printer, including idler pulley bearings, lead screw support bearings, or any other components that have bearings. These need to be lubricated as well.

Types of Lubricants

Like lubricating 3D printer parts is important, figuring out the best lubricant for your 3D printer is equally important. Here are 5 best types of lubricants to use on your 3D printer.

PTFE Based Lubricants: PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) lubricants are used by most 3D printer owners because they have excellent low-friction properties and are resistant to high temperatures. PTFE-based lubricants will give you smooth movement and this can be used on parts like threaded rods and linear rails.

Silicone-based lubricants: Silicone lubricants are easily available, non-toxic, and non-greasy lubricants available in the market at a very low price. 

These are non-toxic, non-greasy and easily available lubricants in the market at a very low price.

Silicone lubricants can be a great choice for lubricating plastic and rubber surfaces like V-Slot wheels, but they cannot be used for lubricating metal surfaces like linear rails, bearings, linear rods or Z-axis lead screws.

White Lithium Grease:  White lithium grease is one of the best long-lasting lubricants as it’s an all in one lubricant which can be used for metal-to-metal or metal-to-plastic applications. It means you can it on your rubber V slot wheel or on Linear rods and rails.

Graphite-Based Lubricants: All the lubricants in this list are either oil or grease-based, but graphite lubricants offer dry lubrication. As graphite in itself is a good lubricant, it also adds strength, increasing the longevity of the part. However, it may not be able to provide long-lasting lubrication compared to grease and oil-based lubricants.

Steps to Lubricate Your 3D Printer

  • Clean the Parts: Before applying lubricant, make sure you clean the linear rods, rails, and lead screws well to remove all the dust or old lubricant from these parts.
  • Apply the Lubricant: You can use a small brush or applicator that comes with lubricant to evenly apply it on the whole linear rods and rails. For Z-axis lead screws, you can put lubricant on the Z-axis nut and then rotate the lead screw to spread it on the whole rod.
  • Move the Parts: After applying the lubricant to all the necessary parts, move the 3D printer’s axes and bed manually to spread the lubricant evenly across the entire rod or rail.
  • Wipe Excess Lubricant: After moving the parts and spreading the lubricant evenly, wipe off any excess lubricant to prevent it from collecting dirt, which might cause problems in the future.

Conclusion

Lubricating 3D printer parts is as important as servicing your car, as lubrication will make sure you’ll get high consistent printer quality and it also increases the longevity of your 3D printer. Select the lubrication according to your budget and requirements, and then gently apply it to all parts that are moving against a surface to ensure smooth movement with minimal friction. A small investment in lubrication will give you a lot of positive returns.

FAQ

What is the best lubricant for 3D printing?

  • For 3D printing, PTFE-based lubricants are best due to their low friction and high-temperature resistance properties. They’re ideal for linear rails and rods, ensuring smooth movement.

What is the best lubricant for 3D printer linear rails?

  • PTFE-based lubricants work best for 3D printer linear rails. They offer low friction and smooth movement of components like threaded rods and linear rails.

Do I need to lubricate my 3D printer?

  • Yes, lubricating your 3D printer is very important as a lubricated 3D printer will give you high print quality, reduce friction on moving parts, and increase your printer’s longevity.

Can you use Vaseline on a 3D printer?

  • It’s not recommended to use Vaseline. Specifically designed lubricants like PTFE-based, silicone-based, or white lithium grease are better options for 3D printers, helping them run smoothly and last longer.

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