As a 3D printer user, you must have had the question “Are 3d printer nozzles interchangeable?” pop up on your mind. You may need to use different nozzles for different occasions. So, choosing the right nozzle for your printer and knowing how to change them is important.
In this article, I will be talking about whether 3D printer nozzles are interchangeable and various other facts that you might need to know about them.
Nowadays, 3D printers come with the feature of interchangeable nozzles. However, it depends on the nozzle’s compatibility with the 3D printer. You have to consider many facts before switching nozzles.
As you know, there are various kinds of nozzles for different uses. The nozzles are not always universal. If you are thinking about changing nozzles, you have to consider several factors like nozzle diameter, material, shape, threading shaft length and filament diameter.
Here are all the facts you need to know about interchanging nozzles in a 3D printer.
3D Printer’s Interchangeable Nozzles
Nozzles are the most important part of your 3D printer’s hot end. This is the last part of the printer which prints your item. The filaments of the 3D printer come out through the nozzles and the nozzles print on the print bed. So, finding the right nozzle is very important. The size, material and shape of the nozzle can make a huge difference in final results.
Most of the 3D printers come with the 0.4mm nozzles. However, there are 3D printers in the market that can also swap between 0.25, 0.4, 0.6 and 0.8 mm nozzles. These printers are designed in such a way so that the users can change nozzles to print in high speed and high resolution. So, it is better if you keep more than one nozzle of different size and materials.
Facts to Consider Before Changing 3D Printer Nozzles
There are several facts about the nozzle you should think about before buying it for your 3D printer. Think about why you want to change the nozzle and buy the nozzle based on your necessity. Here are some factors you need to consider:
Fitting the Hot End
If you are buying a new nozzle, make sure it fits the specific hot end of your printer. The hot end is the part of a 3D printer that melts the filament for extrusion so that it can come out through the nozzle. It also maintains an accurate temperature for printing. Maintaining temperature is important for print quality.
Most of the nozzles may look the same, but there are a few small differences. For example, the new nozzle may not fit the hot end. So, if you use the wrong nozzle, it could result in a leaking hot end and damage your print.
The nozzle’s opening diameter and material are very crucial for printing quality. We will discuss the materials of nozzles later. Now, let’s see how the size of your new nozzle matters.
Using Small Nozzles: Normally, 3D printers have a standard nozzle with it. The diameter of the nozzle hole is typically 0.4mm. It is a standard size because it is neither very small nor very large for 3D printing. If you want to switch to a nozzle larger or smaller than 0.4mm, it may not be an issue.
But, if you want to use about 0.3mm nozzle, you may face some consequences. Your printing quality will certainly get more detailed. The smaller the nozzle, the better will be the resolution of your printing.
However, when you add a much smaller nozzle like this, the filaments get a narrow path to come out. As a result, the contaminants of the filament may block the nozzle end. Moreover, it can also clog when you use low-quality filaments and non-plastic filaments like wood, glass and metal. Cleaning such a small nozzle head is quite difficult.
Fortunately, you will be able to print perfect 3D prints which will have invisible layer lines. The print may take more time but the quality of the prints will be super stunning.
So, smaller nozzles are great for creating small 3D prints for your hobbies and even in jobs that require detailed 3D printed items.
Using larger Nozzles: Larger nozzles can have great effects on your printing quality. First of all, it will take a shorter time to print than the smaller nozzles. A larger nozzle will also cover a lot than a smaller in a single movement. With a larger nozzle, you get the option of using taller layers.
For example, a 0.4 mm nozzle realistically tops out a 0.3mm layer height, a 0.6mm nozzle takes up to around 0.45mm layers and a 0.8mm nozzle will top out at 0.65 layer height. 0.8mm is a very large nozzle diameter but nowadays there are 3D printer companies that are making 1.2 mm nozzles as well.
A single 0.8mm nozzle will take half the time of a 0.4mm nozzle. Moreover, larger extrusion of filament bonds strongly and the contaminants cannot clog the nozzle heads.
But, there are some drawbacks of using a large nozzle. Your print quality will not be perfect. The items you print with a large nozzle can be rough and less detailed.
Also, your heater block has to be adjusted with the nozzle. The filament may not be heated enough before it comes out from the hot end. This may happen because the filament will come through the heater block quicker. If you do not want to face any problem like that, you can switch to a volcano heater block. This will keep the filament heated.
So, if you want to print items faster and the print quality does not matter much, then you can change to a larger nozzle. Larger nozzles are best for heavy use.
With time, the continuous extrusion of filaments will gradually damage the nozzle of 3D printers. As a result, printing quality will not be the same. Therefore, nozzles made from hard materials are best for regular 3D printing. Nozzles can be made from different materials like steel-based, brass and copper.
The standard 3D printer nozzle material is brass. Most of the 3D printers have brass nozzles when you first buy them. There are several reasons for that.
A brass nozzle conducts heat reasonably. This means brass nozzles can maintain extrusion temperature quite accurately. Although brass is softer than other hard materials, it is still hard enough for nozzles. Brass nozzles can be easily machined. Brass is quite cheap and easily available. Most of the brass nozzles are available at $6 to $10.
As a result, it has become a standard material for nozzles. If you are an average 3D printer user, you can use brass nozzles.
- Controls heat reasonably
- Soft material
- Resistant to scratches
- Cheap and available
Use of Brass Nozzles: Brass nozzles are standard nozzles which are great for soft plastic filaments like PLA, ABS and PETG. In short, they work well for non-abrasive filaments.
Brass nozzles are not the best option for abrasive filaments like glass-fill, wood-fill, Nylon or metal fills. The metals and carbon fibers in these filaments can quickly wear out the soft brass nozzles.
Stainless Steel Nozzles
Stainless steel is a special kind of nozzle that is used for 3D printing food applications. These nozzles are harder than brass nozzles but they are not as thermally conductive as brass. As a result, they can clog more often. Also, they are more expensive. As they are harder than brass they cannot be easily damaged.
- Resistant to weathering
- Low thermal conductivity
- Comparatively hard
- Specially used for food and medical application printing
Use of Stainless Steel: The stainless steel nozzles are generally used for 3D printing food applications like plates, cups and such. Stainless steel is approved by the FDA for making food serving accessories and medical items. Stainless steel nozzles can handle abrasive filaments like copper, metal, carbon fiber and glass.
However, there are very few materials approved for creating food and medical application printing. Therefore, be careful about that. You can switch to stainless steel nozzles if you want to print food-related items. Other than that, using stainless steel nozzles is not a good idea.
Hardened Steel Nozzles
When you need to use abrasive filament materials, you can swap to hardened steel nozzles. These nozzles may decay eventually but they are comparatively more durable than any other nozzles.
The filaments you use may have carbon fibers and small particles which can easily damage soft nozzles like brass nozzles. However, it is not a problem for hardened steel nozzles. As the nozzles are made of steel, they are highly resistant to decaying and scratching. These nozzles are more expensive than brass nozzles but they are affordable.
The problem with using hardened steel nozzles is that they are not good at maintaining heat. As a result, you may face an error in printing performance. It becomes an issue for larger nozzle sizes. So, you have to keep an eye on the heating process.
- High Resistant to corrosion
- Comparatively harder than other nozzles
- High resistance to abrasive materials
- Low thermal conductivity
- More expensive than brass nozzles
Use Hardened Steel Nozzles: If you want to use highly abrasive filaments like wood, copper, steel and nylon then you should consider using hardened steel nozzles. They are the best nozzles for printing hard and durable 3D printing.
Ruby-tipped nozzles are also popular among 3D printer enthusiasts. They are made of brass but a small ruby is attached on the tip of the nozzle. This unique combination gives ruby-tipped nozzle users some advantages.
As the nozzles are made of brass, they have more thermal conductivity. And the use of ruby allows it to handle abrasive filaments that normal brass nozzles cannot handle.
The problem is only the tip of the nozzle is made of ruby but the rest of the body of the nozzle is made of brass. Hence, the body is not resistant to abrasive filaments. It can harm the inside of the nozzle.
On top of that, the ruby-tipped nozzles are much more expensive than steel based nozzles. It is obviously expensive since there is a really expensive ruby on the tip of the nozzle. Hardened steel nozzles cost only about $20. On the other hand, ruby-tipped nozzles cost about $90.
- High thermal resistance
- High abrasion resistance
- Resistance to corrosion depends on the use
- Less durable than steel-based nozzles
- Very expensive
Use of Ruby-tipped Nozzles: You can use ruby-tipped nozzles for soft materials as well as abrasive filaments like steel, copper, wood, glass and filaments with carbon fibers. It has the features of both brass and steel-based nozzles. So, if you want the benefits and can spend more on nozzles, you can change to ruby-tipped nozzles.
Nozzles Made of Other Materials
Besides the materials I have discussed above, there are other materials used for making nozzles. The materials can be aluminum, copper and tungsten. They have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Considering all of the materials, the better choices for you can be brass and steel-based nozzles. You can switch from brass to steel-based nozzles depending on what you are planning to print with your 3D printer.
The quality of your 3D prints also depends on the shape of the nozzle you want to use. The length and width of nozzles can be different from one another. Some nozzles are lighter than the other depending on the metals used to make them. The lighter nozzles can be better for print heads as the nozzles will reduce the weight on print heads.
There are two types of nozzle heads based on the length of the nozzles: long and short. The filaments coming through long nozzles will get more time to cool down and the filaments from the short nozzle have less time to cool down. So, the quality of the print will be different too. The long shape nozzle will create ridged prints as the filament cools down quickly.
As the length of the nozzle heads, there are two different nozzle widths which are broad and narrow. If you use a broad nozzle head, you will notice a change in the exterior of your prints. Moreover, the print may not be as detailed as narrow head nozzles.
With the use of narrow head nozzles, you can have more detailed prints. However, you may face some problems if you try to use narrow head nozzles for low layer heights.
Why Should You Interchange Nozzles?
As you can see, there are many nozzles out there for 3D printers. These nozzles have slightly different characteristics from each other. Some are good for faster printing and some are great for high-resolution printing. So, you have the option of choosing more than one nozzle. The reasons you should interchange nozzles are:
- Suddenly, you may need to print some quick 3D prints. So, you can switch to larger nozzles like 0.6mm, 0.8mm and 1.2 mm.
- Your smaller nozzle head gets clogged quickly and you have to change it.
- You need to print highly detailed models and swap from larger to smaller nozzles. Use 0.4 mm nozzles or nozzles having less diameter size than that.
- You can switch to hardened steel-based nozzles if you need to use abrasive materials. You can choose a 0.4 mm nozzle or larger than that to print with abrasive materials.
- You want to maintain an accurate temperature for your print. So, you can change to brass nozzles.
- When you need to print food applicants, you can change to stainless steel nozzles as they are made especially for this use.
How to Change Nozzles
So, how do you swap nozzles? First, make sure the nozzles you want to use are compatible with your 3D printer. There are different types of hot-end designs. Normally, nozzles are made to fit with nearly all types of hotheads. But, you still have to be careful.
For the changing process, you need a wrench or socket which is the right size for the nozzles, pillars and some high-temperature anti-seize compound.
- First, unload filaments from your printer as much as you can.
- Then, heat up the hot end to a printing temperature which is around 200-220 degrees. Your nozzle can end up breaking if you do not heat up the hot end before changing the nozzle.
- After that, hold the hot end in place with a wrench and use a socket wrench (7mm) to turn the nozzles to get it off from the hot end.
- Finally, make sure that the hot end is still hot while you install a new nozzle and use the anti-seize compound.
Hopefully this article answers your question “Are 3d printer nozzles interchangeable?”
Nozzles are interchangeable. But you have to follow some steps to choose the right nozzles to interchange with your current one.
Make sure to choose the right nozzle depending on what you want to print with your 3D printer.