Printing anything you want is an amazing thing that has had many people buy 3D printers for their hobby spaces. However, after all the fun has been had many 3D printer owners will start to notice that their prints are no longer what they used to be. Usually having odd shapes, weird mistakes, or sometimes even skewed prints that the printer was perfectly able to do just a few days earlier.
You need to gather a wrench that fits around the heater block of your printer and the nozzle, once you have that heat up the heater block and tip. Holding the heather block secure with one wrench and twisting with the other you should turn the nozzle until it goes out. Simply twist in the new nozzle with your hands, turning only slightly to tighten the nozzle with your wrenches, be sure not to over-torque the nozzle.
Changing the nozzle of a 3D printer is one of the easier things to do, as long as the threads are not damaged or bent then the new nozzle will be able to go straight to work once it has heated up. Understanding why you will have to change the nozzle can be vital as many 3D printer owners are confused by why it is needed and how it affects the quality of their prints.
Do 3D printer nozzles wear out?
Many 3D printer owners will speak of the amazing things they can do with their printers, many times explaining that they do have the ability to make whatever their hearts desire. However, as the 3D printer works it may become less and less frequently used, with some enthusiasts not always aware of the reasoning behind why their prints aren’t looking as good anymore.
3D printer nozzles can wear out pretty quickly and many times can even be damaged by owners who are using the wrong settings. Some nozzles are only rated to hold certain heat levels, while others are meant to only be used with certain thicknesses of filament. What this means is that the nozzle becomes damaged by several things during the average printing session.
It is quite simple to understand why this happens, as even the hardest steels can become soft when heated, and while 3D printers never get red hot, they still do get quite hot. For brass fittings, the most common type, this can mean that a filament that is too hard or too big can damage the internal pathway that the nozzle uses.
How often should you replace the 3D printer nozzle?
If you are using your 3D printer every day you may want to learn how often you should be replacing the nozzles, with many owners learning through faults and mistakes when their specific printers nozzles need to be changed. As you try new nozzles you may also find that you have a personal preference for what you would like to use.
You should check the quality of the prints and how the filament behaves to determine how often you should change the nozzle. Harder nozzles like stainless steel do not need to be replaced as frequently as brass nozzles. However, these nozzles may not always produce the same quality of prints that brass does.
There are many ways that you can learn when you should be replacing your printer nozzles, and most owners soon learn how frequently they need to start checking once they have become experienced. It is vital to remember that if you are printing every day you may need a new nozzle every few weeks while most hobbyists may only need a new nozzle once or twice a year.
What are the different types of 3D printer nozzles?
Now that you know that 3D printer nozzles do need to be replaced and that they usually cause quite a bit of stress for those who do a lot of printing, you may be wondering what the alternatives are. The best answer to choosing a nozzle will always be to look at what you will be using it for, as this decides more what you may need than almost anything else.
However, there are four types of nozzles widely used in the industry today, each one with their own set of advantages that have made them the go-to for most people. These nozzles have proven that they are the only ones you need to consider, and the only ones you really can consider, when digging deeper into the world of 3D printing.
Affordable Brass Nozzles
This is most likely the set of nozzles that you got with your 3D printer, they are the most affordable and will be perfect for most applications. There are only a handful of things that these nozzles cannot do and many times the owners of these nozzles switch them out because they need something a little bit more robust.
Brass nozzles are perfect for when you need to print something fast, as they conduct heat better than any of the other nozzles. Allowing them to easily overcome the challenge of bad layer adhesion, but they have been the answer to many printers suffering from warping or bad bed adhesion. As the nozzle goes hotter, quicker they are more efficient at melting the filament.
However, because they are made out of brass these nozzles are a lot softer than the alternatives and many brass nozzles start failing when you are using composite filaments. The openings become too large, the tip wears out, and the most damagingly the hole warps and causes the filament to bend as it gets extruded.
Food Safe Stainless-Steel Nozzles
These are much harder than brass nozzles and will be the first upgrade many 3D printer owners do when they are looking to replace nozzles that aren’t doing what is needed. Stainless-steel nozzles are perfect for creating almost anything and will not suffer the same type or amount of wear and tear as brass nozzles.
Further, because they are stainless-steel they are completely food safe, which means you can make prints that can come into contact with both foods and human skin. Brass has lead in it which means you usually cannot make sterile equipment with it, combined with a much smoother interior stainless-steel is a good upgrade. The smoother interior means that the nozzles are much less likely to become clogged or bent.
While the nozzle offers many advantages over the softer brass they do suffer from a higher price and the ever-present poor thermal conductivity. This will change everything that you know about 3D printing as the tip will draw more power and require more heat to work properly. Stainless-steel does a lot but it does become a lot more technical when you are using them.
Long-life hardened steel
These are the nozzles that many enthusiasts would never consider using, they may be cheaper than brass but they have so many disadvantages that it can be a head-scratcher why they are on the market. However, hardened steel has one trick up its sleeve that other tips cannot replicate without becoming too pricey.
Hardened steel can work for a long time with any type of filament, with even the most abrasive filaments barely making a dent in them. These nozzles are used for more manufacturing purposes than 3D modeling when someone needs to create a lot of one specific thing and they have a lot of 3D printers.
Apart from that one advantage, the disadvantages of hardened steel can almost outweigh any good. This is because the hardened steel is not food safe, which means anything printed from them has limited uses. Further, the interior is quite rough as these nozzles are mass-produced, which means it can be a pain to get perfect prints. Worst of all though is that hardened steel has some of the worst thermal conductivity imaginable.
The specialty Ruby-tipped
When you are printing a lot of things, or you are only tired of relearning how to print with different nozzles then there is only one real answer. The ruby-tipped nozzle made by Olsson is a specialist type of nozzle that is by far the most expensive nozzle on the market. That said, it only has one failing and that is the nozzle is not food safe.
For everything else the nozzle is unbeaten, the ruby tip means that the nozzle does not wear out even when you are printing some of the hardest filaments on the market. When compared to a hardened steel nozzle, the ruby-tipped nozzle showed no sign of abrasion when the hardened steel nozzle was almost ready to be thrown away.
Further, because it is made out of brass and tipped with a ruby the nozzle can easily be the most efficient when you are looking at the thermal world. Remaining hotter for longer this nozzle will give you the perfect heats almost every single time, no matter how many times you have used it. Just remember, that just one of these will set you back $90, where most other nozzles will cost less than $10.
What are the signs that your 3D printer nozzle needs to be replaced?
Now that you know what nozzles are perfect and you know how to replace your nozzle, you may be wondering how you know when your nozzle is close to the end of its life. This is the first thing all 3D printer owners should learn and the main reason why so many end up having bad prints. There are three signs that you need to focus on while printing to know how the nozzle is doing.
The filament will become almost wobbly, the layers won’t stick, and the printing will become uneven. All of these are caused by the nozzle not being proper anymore and are signs that you need to do a close inspection, or even do a test to see what it looks like when printing. These are all caused by the natural wear and tear of the nozzle.
If you are taking a closer look at your nozzle you should see that the point is no longer sharply defined, visibly having been worn down. You may also see that one side of the nozzle has become more worn down than the other, showing a clear sign that you will need a new filament, and a change of settings when printing.
What are the most often causes for a nozzle to be damaged?
Identifying that your nozzle has been damaged and needs to be replaced is just the start, knowing what can cause damage and how the nozzle will be affected by each part is vital to extending the longevity of the nozzle. Some of the best 3D printers in the world are aware of exactly what each type of nozzle does and what will be damaging to them.
Avoiding practices that damage a nozzle, and not forcing things through them that they are not made for will drastically decrease the costs you have towards the nozzles you have to buy. As you use your 3D printer more and more you will naturally learn these things and become adept at avoiding them at the setting upstage. There is a reason that most 3D printer experts will change nozzles for every new type of filament and print they are using.
- Nozzle Diameter increase: Once it has been said it may seem obvious but many 3D printer owners forget that they are not supposed to use the same nozzle for every filament. Using filament that is even 0.1 mm larger than what the nozzle is meant for will mean that the internal channel of the nozzle is irreparably damaged.
- Type of Filament: The types of filament that you are using is the biggest danger to any nozzle, even the ruby-tipped ones. This is because some filaments are just harder, with more extreme filaments being carbons and metals. As the filaments that you are using changes you need to be switching the nozzles as well, this saves you nozzles and makes for cleaner prints.
- Inner wall damage: Once the inner wall of the nozzle has been damaged it creates a domino effect, this is usually when you need to change the nozzle and just move on. However, sometimes you won’t, and as the wall is uneven or scratched it will now catch more filament and cause more warping and scratching, eventually making all your prints a massive failure.
- Tip of nozzle rounded: Worn-out nozzles are usually rounded, showing that they have been used a lot and as you continue to use the nozzle this causes further damage. Rounded tips are usually too big and the filament coming out will be squashed, stretched, and overall, not want you to want near your nozzle. This causes more damage and for the nozzle to become more worn out over time, causing just more damage, and may even lead to damaging other parts of your 3D printer.
- Long Prints: This is the sneaky one that not everyone remembers, but the longer your print job is the longer the nozzle will be heated up. As you are doing this it will cause natural wear down of the nozzle, internally and externally, as the tip becomes softer and softer the longer you are going.
- Curling of filament: An easy way to see if your tip has been damaged is by lifting the nozzle a few inches above the bed and extruding the filament. If it bends to one side or starts curling in on itself then the nozzle has been damaged. If you are still printing after noticing this be aware that it is bending the nozzle as it puts out the filament and can cause massive damage to the bed of your 3D printer.
Replacing the nozzle on your 3D printer is one of the easier things you can do with your printer, this is because it is something that needs to be done constantly. 3D printers are built with the function to allow you to do this in only a few minutes, with most 3D printing companies including a set of easy instructions to do this.
Just be sure the only part of you that is touching the hot nozzle when replacing it is the wrenches, even a quick touch can easily cause a deep burning scar.