The printer nozzle is the very tip of the hotend; it applies the molten filament to the printer bed. It’s typically made out of brass but there are many other materials available, and they come in a variety of sizes.
Over time, nozzles will wear out so at some point you will need to replace them, but you may also be using filaments that are abrasive such as a glow-in-the-dark filament or one infused with carbon fibre. If you’re printing with these kinds of materials, they will eat through your nozzles very quickly.
As nozzles start to wear out, they will affect the quality of your print as you’ll see abnormal extrusion behaviour.
But there are other reasons why you might want to change your printer nozzle.
Bigger 3D printer nozzles print faster and stronger
Roughly speaking, the maximum printed layer height is about 80% of the nozzle width, so clearly, a larger nozzle will have a larger maximum width and therefore the same part can take fewer layers and be quicker to print.
They can also print object walls (the outer shell) more quickly. For example, a 2mm thick wall printed with a 1mm nozzle will only need to 2 passes but to do the same print with a 0.2mm nozzle will take 10 passes.
Objects printed using a larger nozzle will also have a higher impact strength which is great if that’s what you’re looking for, but the pay off is that it will use a lot more filament, so if you don’t need that strength and want to save the filament, a smaller nozzle may be a better choice.
Detailed prints need smaller nozzles
If it’s precision and detail you’re looking for, then you’ll need a smaller nozzle. A large nozzle is like a fat marker pen, smaller ones are used like a fine-point pen – perfect for detailed work, although they can’t quite match SLA (resin) printing technology.
Unfortunately, the smaller the nozzle size, the more prone they are to clogging. The smaller nozzle size makes it much easier for dust and other particles to block the nozzle. One clog can fail an entire print. Smaller nozzles are most often used for printing text or fine models.
Do you find it difficult to change nozzles?
It can be a tedious job to change nozzles and it’s all too easy to damage the hotend when tightening up the nozzle.
One thing we’ve found to make the job much easier is the E3D Revo which is a hotend that can be used on many 3D printers and has been specifically designed to make changing nozzles easier.
We can personally vouch for this product – we would avoid nozzle changes at all costs because they were so fiddly to do, but having changed to the new E3D Revo, the job’s a breeze!
You can get 5% off an E3D Revo hotend if you purchase before 31st August 2022 by quoting code HPIREVO5. This discount code will even work on the brand new Revo CR which launched LAST WEEK!