3D printing is an increasingly popular technology that allows us to create parts and objects with unprecedented precision and customization. One of the most important parts of a 3D printer is the nozzle, since it is in charge of extruding the material and shaping our design. In this informative technical post we are going to talk about the different nozzles used in 3D printing, differentiating them by the material and comparing them in cost, durability, working temperatures and materials that it supports.

Types of nozzle according to its material:

  • Brass:

Brass nozzles are suitable for working with materials that do not require high temperatures, such as PLA, PETG, TPU or soluble PVA. However, for materials that require temperatures above 250°C they could wear out more quickly, since brass deforms at high temperatures.

Brass nozzles are the most used since they have an incredible quality/price ratio. However, they have a limited lifespan compared to other materials, since brass is a material that wears with use. They can also clog if using abrasive materials or printing at high temperatures.

There is a big difference from one manufacturer to another, our high quality nozzles offer optimal durability and performance results.

  • Plated copper:

These silver-plated copper nozzles are suitable for working with materials that require high temperatures, such as ABS, Nylon or PC. The maximum working temperature is usually around 300°C.

Silver-plated copper nozzles are more durable than brass ones, since copper is a harder material. In addition, the silver coating provides greater resistance to abrasion and corrosion.

In addition to high temperature performance, these nozzles have advanced nickel-based plating, greatly reducing plastic adhesion to the nozzle. This is ideal for basic filaments, but is especially important in temperatures above 300°C where a silicone sock cannot be used.

Copper has more than 3 times the thermal conductivity of brass, and the copper alloy used has been hardened and treated to reduce the oxidation that occurs with copper at high temperatures. The increased thermal conductivity will also slightly increase your heating times and can provide tighter temperature control.

This copper alloy is very temperature resistant, and won't start to soften or anneal until well above 500°C, making it perfect for high temperature printing that other nozzles can't handle.

The cost is also higher, however, its greater durability and resistance make up for its higher cost.

  • Hardened Steel:

Hardened steel nozzles are ideal for abrasive materials that wear normal nozzles. They are not recommended for common materials.

Hardened steel is a steel alloy that has undergone a special heat treatment to increase its hardness and strength. Due to this property, hardened steel nozzles are ideal for printing corrosive materials.

Corrosive materials can quickly wear and corrode silver-plated brass or copper nozzles, which can cause print quality problems and even damage the nozzle. On the other hand, hardened steel is more resistant to corrosion and abrasion, making it ideal for working with materials that can damage softer nozzles.

Additionally, hardened steel nozzles have a longer life than brass or silver-plated copper. This means users can work with corrosive materials for longer without having to constantly replace the nozzle.

Types of nozzle according to its diameter:

3D printing nozzles are available in a variety of diameters, generally ranging from 0.1mm up to 1mm or even larger in some cases. The choice of nozzle diameter depends on several factors, such as the type of material to be printed, the desired printing speed, and the required resolution.

We can group them into 3 categories:

  • Small nozzles: 0.1mm to 0.25mm. These are an option for those seeking high precision in 3D printing and the ability to print extremely fine details. Although these nozzles are smaller and may require longer print times due to the reduced amount of material deposited in each pass, they offer much higher resolution compared to larger diameter nozzles.

    These nozzles are commonly used for printing very small or finely detailed objects, such as pieces of jewelry or architectural models. They are also useful for printing miniature objects, such as action figures or model trains.

    However, it is important to note that 0.1mm nozzles require some additional considerations in 3D printing. For example, due to reduced material flow through the nozzle, it may be necessary to adjust the print temperature or reduce the print speed to prevent nozzle clogging. Also, filaments with thick particles or fillers can easily clog such a small nozzle.

  • Medium nozzles: 0.3mm to 0.4mm. They are the most common in 3D printing. These nozzles are suitable for a wide range of applications and are ideal for most models and parts that are printed in 3D printing.

    One of the main advantages of the 0.4mm nozzles is that they are very versatile and can handle a wide variety of 3D printing materials, such as PLA, ABS, PETG, Nylon, TPU, among others. Also, due to their size, these nozzles can print at a relatively high print speed and are less prone to clogging compared to smaller nozzles.

    The 0.4mm nozzles are ideal for 3D printing parts that do not require high precision but need to be printed quickly. These nozzles can produce print layers around 0.1-0.3mm in height with an extrusion width of around 0.4mm. They are also a good choice for printing larger objects that require less fine detail

  • Large nozzles: 0.5mm to 1mm. Allows you to deposit a larger amount of material and produce thicker print layers.

    These nozzles are suitable for printing parts that do not require high precision, but must be printed quickly. Because they deposit more material with each pass, they can print thicker layers than smaller diameter nozzles, making them ideal for printing larger objects or parts with less fine detail.

    Additionally, these nozzles are more resistant to clogging compared to smaller diameter nozzles. This is because the nozzle opening is larger and allows thicker materials to flow through more easily. They are also capable of printing more viscous materials such as wood filament, metal filament, and other specialty materials that require a larger nozzle to pass through unobstructed.

Ratio of nozzle diameter, layer height and extrusion width:

Layer height in 3D printing is an important parameter that can affect the strength and quality of the printed part. Layer height refers to the vertical distance the nozzle moves after printing a layer of material. As the layer height is increased, the overall print time decreases, but the print quality may also decrease.

In general, a lower layer height will produce a more accurate printed part with a smoother surface. This is because the layers are thinner and have less room for variations in the print. However, a lower layer height will also increase print time and require more layers to complete the part, which can increase the risk of nozzle clogs.

In general terms, these layer heights are recommended according to the function of the piece:

  • Esthetical Parts: If the appearance of the part is important, such as for display models or jewelry, a low layer height of around 0.05-0.1mm is recommended. This will produce a smooth, detailed surface.
  • Functional parts: If the printed part is functional, such as mechanical parts or engineering parts, a middle layer height of around 0.2-0.3mm is recommended. This will produce a stronger and more durable part.
  • Structural parts: If the printed part is a support structure or a large part that needs to be strong, a high layer height of around 0.4-0.5mm is recommended. This will produce a faster to print and stronger part.

It may vary depending on the material, these are indicative data.

The relationship between nozzle diameter and layer height is important in 3D printing because it directly affects the quality and accuracy of the print.

The smaller the nozzle, obviously the lower the layer height used should be. In general terms, the layer height should range between 20% and 80% of the diameter of the nozzle.

The extrusion width is recommended to be proportional to the layer height to avoid problems such as underextrusion or overextrusion of the filament.

If the extrusion width is too small relative to the layer height, underextrusion problems can occur as the filament is not distributed evenly over the previous layer. On the other hand, if the extrusion width is too large in relation to the layer height, excess material can be produced, resulting in poor print quality and/or warping.

It must be greater than or equal to the diameter of the nozzle, an extrusion width 120% greater than the diameter of the nozzle is generally recommended.

Layer height recommendations in relation to nozzle diameter are based on a balance between nozzle extrusion capacity and print quality. It is important to note that these recommendations are only a guide and adjustments can be made for best results depending on the type of material and the specifications of the 3D printer used.

You can see our nozzle selection clicking here.

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