The 3D printer is an artist and the nozzle is the paintbrush. The 3D Printer nozzle is heated up and melts the filament so that it can be printed. As the filament is melted, the extruder motors push the filament through a very small hole in the extruder. In a way, the nozzle is key to success for 3D printing. There are different styles, materials, and sizes of nozzles which can help a 3D printer expand its capabilities.
The most common and standard nozzle is a brass nozzle. Brass nozzles are the usual nozzle that are installed on a desktop 3D printer. Not only is brass great for heating up the filament and staying at a consistent and constant temperature, but it is also inexpensive. Brass nozzles can also be cleaned without too much trouble and usually, this can require using a liquid to dissolve the “build-up” on the nozzle.
When to Use Brass Nozzles
Brass nozzles have a lot of advantages, but they should not be used with every filament. Filaments such as basic PLA, flexible filaments, and other filaments are perfect for a brass nozzle, but using abrasive filaments can destroy a brass nozzle. Want to know more about filaments? Check out our Filament Guide.
Abrasive filaments essentially “eat away” at the nozzle’s hole until the hole is widened too large to produce a quality print. When considering using a new filament material for the first time and a brass nozzle is in the 3D printer, check the specifications or description to ensure it is not abrasive. It could take as little as 200 grams of abrasive filament to completely ruin a brass nozzle, but there is a solution: the hardened steel nozzle!
Hardened Steel Nozzles
Even the name Hardened Steel Nozzle seems tough - and it is! Hardened steel nozzles are more durable and stronger than the standard brass nozzle. While these extruders do not usually come as the default for a 3D printer, these nozzles are long lasting. Hardened steel nozzles are able to print nonabrasive filaments, just like the brass nozzle, and are also able to print abrasive filaments.
Since they are more durable, instead of the abrasive filament widening the nozzle hole and ruining it, the nozzle is able to maintain its structure.
When to Use Hardened Steel Nozzles
Unlike the brass nozzles, there is no need to check and avoid abrasive filaments when using a Hardened Steel Nozzle. Filaments that are infused with abrasive materials are now available to print with a hardened steel nozzle. Some examples of abrasive filaments are carbon fiber nylon and metal infused PLA. There are many advantages of abrasive filaments when using the correct nozzle.
Ruby Tipped Nozzles
A ruby tipped 3D printer nozzle is a high end and high preforming nozzle. Aside from the glorious name of the Ruby Tipped Nozzle, it can also print and maintain abrasive filaments with ease. It is extremely rare for a ruby tipped nozzle to come as the stock nozzle for a 3d printer, so the most common way to acquire a ruby tipped nozzle, is to buy it separately and upgrade the 3D printer. Ruby tipped nozzles are potentially the longest lasting nozzle of the three nozzle types.
When to Use Ruby Tipped Nozzles
The ruby tipped nozzle was originally intended for Boron Carbide, one of the hardest materials in the world, and it became popular for widespread 3D printer users because of the durability of the nozzle. PLA, ABS, Nylon, Carbon Fiber PLA, and so many more filaments can be printed with a ruby tipped nozzle. The ruby tipped nozzle may be at a higher price than most nozzles, but with the lifetime, functionality, and quality provided with the nozzle, it is definitely a great upgrade for a 3D printer.
Different Styles of Nozzles
There a variety of widely different looking nozzles available for 3D printers. From small to big nozzles, there are a range of different options. When considering replacing or changing a nozzle for a 3D printer, it is important to know what nozzle is currently installed on the 3D printer in order to ensure that the new upgrade or replacement nozzle will be compatible. If the nozzle type, or threading, is not compatible with the extruder block, then the nozzle will not be able to be screwed in or fit correctly. Additionally, the extruder nozzle may have a custom or different nozzle, so be sure to check the threading and sizing for the new nozzle that is intended to be an upgrade or replacement. Another factor to consider is auto bed leveling. If the nozzle is a different size, style, or shape from the original nozzle included with the printer, then the bed leveling may not work. If the upgrade nozzle is the same nozzle, but in a different material, the nozzle definitely should still work with the auto bed leveling.
Different Nozzle Sizes
No matter the nozzle material, it is still important to understand what size nozzle tip is installed as default in a 3D printer. This is because there could be a different nozzle (tip) size that could be better suited for the projects and adventures that the particular user has in mind for it. For example, a .1mm nozzle will provide a high level of detail because the filament path coming out of the nozzle is smaller. On the other hand, the standard .4mm nozzle could be better for another user if the intent is to print parts at a faster speed. Every nozzle size has its advantages.
In the end, ruby tipped nozzles may last the longest and be the most durable of the three materials, but a hardened steel nozzle is also a worthy upgrade at a lower cost. On the flip side, a brass nozzle might be perfect for a 3D printer user’s need if the plan does not include printing abrasive filaments. Every nozzle size, material, and style are designed with certain goals in mind, but it is important to understand which type is best for the user depending on the type projects which will be made of the 3D printer.