Nozzles are the last physical item in your printer to touch the filament before it becomes your 3D printed part, so it’s important to understand how they work if you want to take full advantage of the possibilities afforded by the different types.
Left to Right: Hardened Steel, Stainless Steel, and Brass
Generally speaking, nozzles are classified in the following ways:
- Filament diameter: 1.75mm or 3.00mm
- Nozzle diameter: standard sizes include 0.4mm, 0.5mm, 0.3mm, 0.25mm
- Threading - pitch, angle
- Shaft length
The industry leader for quality hotends is E3D, which is why we recommend and sell their products to our customers as an upgrade or as a replacement for a failing stock hotend. Often imitated, seldom duplicated, the E3D machine shop does a better job than anyone else at creating high-quality parts that work reliably. For this reason, most of the nozzles we sell are E3D, though it is important to note that more printers are being designed, if not with an E3D hot end, with threading that allows for installation of E3D nozzles.
The Olsson Block upgrade to the Ultimaker 2+ is a good example of this; the 2 had a unique hotend design with the nozzle and heat block as one part, and nozzle replacement required disassembly of the entire hotend. With the Olsson Block upgrade, the block is separate from the nozzle and has threading that is compatible with E3D nozzles.
E3D Standard Brass Nozzles
Nozzles are made from a variety of metals, and you should select a nozzle made from the type of metal that matches the type of filament you want to print with. The main reason for this is fairly simple: some filaments are abrasive and will wear down certain types of metal.
Here is a list of the common metals used to make nozzles:
- Brass - The most common metal used for nozzles, brass can be used to print PLA, ABS, PETG, Nylon, TPE, TPU, PC, and most any other non-abrasive materials.
- Stainless steel - A step above brass, nozzles made from stainless steel are good if you want to print a wide range of types of filament, including abrasives.
- Hardened steel - If you want to print nothing but abrasive materials, like our NylonX or ColorFabb bronzeFill for example, hardened steel nozzles are what you want.
- Specialty materials - Other materials, like Tungsten and Ruby, have been used to make harder nozzles that can stand up to constant abrasion. These are for printing exclusively abrasive materials, and typically cost more than the other options.
The Olsson Ruby nozzle is actually tipped with a real ruby
Range of Options
Nozzles come in lots of different shapes and sizes, but they all perform the same function. The smallest nozzles (at least that are commercially available) are 0.15mm -- good for very intricate prints, though they can be difficult to calibrate and use.
On the other end of the spectrum, larger nozzles (again, of those commercially available) range up to 1.2mm. These allow for quicker, larger prints, generally speaking.
Why have more than one size nozzle?
So why would you want to have more than one nozzle? Though you can probably make do with the standard 0.4mm nozzle, there are a few reasons you might want to have more than one extra on hand:
- You want to print a model quickly, so you use a bigger nozzle
- Your current nozzle gets clogged, and you need to replace it
- You want fine details, so you use a smaller nozzle
The E3D Nozzle Fun Pack - collect a variety of different sized nozzles
How to change a nozzle
Heat the hot end to printing temperature, or at least 200°C. Failure to heat the hot end before changing the nozzle is the most common reason for a broken nozzle.
Use a tool like an adjustable wrench or channel locks to steady the heat block, while you use a socket wrench to turn the nozzle. (E3D nozzles are 7mm, for reference)
Make sure the hot end is still hot when installing the new nozzle.
We hope that this will help you find the right nozzle for all your projects - happy printing!