DIYElectronics 3D Printer Nozzle Guide

Header image for Nozzle Guide blog post.

So the time has come to pick a new nozzle. But you are unsure about which nozzle will be best for your purposes. We can relate, it is not always as simple as just buying a new brass nozzle, what about plated brass, hardened steel, or maybe even vanadium. Luckily we are here to offer advice on the range of nozzles we stock. Picking the right nozzle is vital as it can save you time, money, and headaches later down the line. So without further ado let’s dive into the guide.

Why Replace Your Nozzle:

The most common reason for replacing a nozzle is wear and tear, however, this is not the only reason to make the switch. Replacing your nozzle can also be a very useful upgrade for your 3D Printer. Most printers come standard with a brass 0.4MM nozzle which is perfectly suited to printing more common filaments such as PLA and ABS. Upgrading your nozzle can allow you to print more advanced filament, get more detailed prints and ensure you keep printing longer with less wear and tear. Nozzles can vary in size with each size having its benefits. No matter if you are looking to get highly detailed prints or quickly produce prototypes there is a nozzle type for you. In this post we will be looking at the different nozzle brands, material types, and sizes. While the nozzle options are nearly endless we will be focusing on nozzles we stock as we have had hands-on experience with them.

Nozzle Brands:

Unbranded

These nozzles will be the affordable brass nozzles that you can often get in bulk. They are great for your budget as you can keep replacing the nozzle as needed. These nozzles are compatible with a very wide variety of printers. Despite not being branded they are still good quality.

E3D Nozzles

The E3D brand has become a well-known name in the 3D Printing community. They now offer a wide range of nozzles from brass to experimental materials. These nozzles are designed to fit the E3D hotend range such as the V5 and V6. The nozzles are also visually different from other nozzles as there is a small flat surface around the tip.

Slice Engineering

Slice Engineering is relatively new to the 3D Printing industry. They have made a name for themselves with the incredible Mosquito and Copperhead hotends capable of 450oC. The nozzle range is very limited but specialised, the iconic nozzle is the Vanadium Nozzle.

Micro Swiss

Micro Swiss have been part of the 3D Printing industry since 2014 and pride themselves on quality products, in-house manufacturing, and responsive customer service. These nozzles are more specialised and offer impressive wear resistance and a low coefficient of friction. Micro Swiss nozzles feature nickel-based plating for improved wear resistance.

Materials

Nozzle material plays an important role in 3D Printing. One of the big differences with nozzle material is how well it resists wear from abrasive filaments. A common brass nozzle will do fine for filaments such as PLA but try printing in carbon fibre and you will end up with a very worn nozzle. Companies are constantly working to produce the toughest nozzles possible that are capable of handling any abrasive filaments. Choosing a nozzle is not only about wear resistance, some materials offer other benefits. Stainless steel for example is accepted by the FDA as food-safe and A2 Hardened tool steel not only offers great wear-resistance but can produce incredibly high-quality prints. So no matter if you plan to print with PLA or Carbon Fiber there is a nozzle material for you.

The image below shows the importance of choosing the correct type of nozzle when printing with advanced or abrasive filament.

Nozzle guide wear comparison.
The creators of Olsson Ruby made this useful comparison when printing with carbon fiber. (Source)

Brass

One of the most common nozzles for 3D Printers. Most 3D Printers come standard with a 0.4MM brass nozzle. Brass offers great thermal conductivity but remains susceptible to wear from abrasive filaments. They are often the most affordable option when buying a new nozzle and many Makers buy them in bulk.

Plated Brass

A unique offering from Micro Swiss. Offering properties similar to Brass but with a TwinClad XT plating to improve wear resistance. Not as resistant as some of the other materials mentioned here but still a step up from normal brass. The plating helps keep the nozzle clean by preventing filament from sticking to the outside.

Stainless Steel

A stainless steel nozzle offers better wear-resistance than brass as well as a few other features. These nozzles remain cleaner than others as filament will struggle to adhere to the outside of the nozzle. Stainless steel is also accepted by the FDA as food-safe, this means that you could print some interesting materials with these nozzles.

A2 Hardened Tool Steel

Another entry from Micro Swiss, being the step up from the plated brass nozzle mentioned earlier. Offering better wear resistance and also allowing for incredible print quality. The nozzles are machined from tool steel, heat-treated, and plated with TwinClad XT. It also features a plastic repellant coating to help keep the nozzle clean.

Hardened Steel

Hardened steel nozzles are one of the best options if you need a very wear-resistant nozzle. They do have lower thermal conductivity than brass but can also handle higher printing temperatures. These are your go-to nozzles if you print almost exclusively in abrasive filaments. Compared to high-end nozzles like Vanadium they are very affordable.

Vanadium

The vanadium nozzle is an interesting and impressive offering from Slice Engineering. Crafted from Vanadium-alloyed high-speed steel which is hardened and tempered throughout the substrate rather than just the surface. It is also coated with a wear-resistant, plastic repellant to help keep it clean. It is capable of high temperatures when combined with a suitable hotend.

Nozzle Size

Nozzles come in a variety of sizes from very small nozzles to larger nozzles. Most 3D Printers will come with a 0.4MM nozzle as stock and this is because it is a great combination of speed and detail. So what is the difference and is it worth going for smaller or larger nozzles? This is a question we hope to address in this section. It is also important to note that filament quality will also affect the result you get with different size nozzles. Store filament in a dry place and try to keep it free of moisture and dust for best results.

0.2MM – 0.4MM

Smaller nozzles offer incredible detail but very long print times. Less filament is extruded during movement so layers will take longer to complete. Instead of needing to do 200 passes for a layer, smaller nozzles might need to do 300. You can get incredibly detailed prints with a standard 0.4MM nozzle so it may be hard to justify changing to smaller nozzles. Where they do shine however is when printing very small models such as miniatures, or incredibly detailed prints. So if you are into printing tabletop figurines or similar objects then you might consider switching to a smaller nozzle. Please note that not all printers will support the higher resolutions of smaller nozzles.

0.4MM – 1MM

It is well known that higher resolution prints will look better but take longer. The lower the resolution the faster the print but the print quality also decreases. With this in mind going for a nozzle with a diameter larger than 0.4MM will allow you to print larger prints much faster. The reason for this is the more filament that gets extruded during movement the fewer passes are needed per layer. Instead of needing to do 200 passes for a layer, a larger nozzle might only need to do 100. This does come with a drawback of lower print quality as finer details will be lost. So if you often print larger models or do lots of prototyping then it might be worth considering a larger nozzle.

V6 and Volcano

Nozzle size is not just about the diameter but can also refer to the dimensions of the nozzle. While most nozzles are designed to fit the more popular hotends, such as the V6, there are some that are a bit more unique. Nozzles that are designed for the Volcano hotend are around 8.5mm longer than standard nozzles. Volcano compatible nozzles allow you to print faster due to the filament being heated up quicker in the melt zone. Compatible nozzles also tend to come in larger diameters but you can still get great detail from them. The big benefit of Volcano compatible nozzles is the ability to achieve higher print speeds.

Nozzle Guide Infographic

We have created this useful chart to showcase the basic properties of each nozzle material.

Infographic for Nozzle Guide

Please note: The information in this infographic may vary and some Makers may achieve success outside of what is mentioned. We made this infographic to provide a general idea of what each nozzle is suited for and what to expect from it. A more in-depth guide can be found here.

In Closing

We hope you found this nozzle guide helpful and hope you are now better prepared to choose a new or replacement nozzle for your 3D Printer. We are eager to hear what your experiences are with different nozzles so please leave a comment if you have useful information or an exciting story to share. Consider sharing this post on social media to share the knowledge. If you enjoyed this guide then check out our other blog posts, we have a growing collection of guides and project posts up right now. We also have other guides on our website. To keep up to date on everything DIYElectronics related such as new products, projects, and Maker news, check out our social media. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter and website.

(Updated 09/04/2021 – Mentioned difference between V6 and Volcano)

2 thoughts on “DIYElectronics 3D Printer Nozzle Guide”

    1. Hi Marius.
      Thank you for your feedback. That is a very good point. We will have a look and see if we can amend the post to mention the differences.
      The DIYElectronics team.

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