Factors To Consider: 3D Printing Nozzles
The nozzle for your 3D printer is a very dynamic component of your machine. You have to consider that this is the final point between your design being brought into physical form - and the type of nozzle that you choose can greatly impact the final results of your craft. The 3D printing nozzles available to us come in a lot of different varieties to perform different functions.
What you are going to want to consider when choosing the right nozzle is what kind of results you are looking for when printing. Do you want to print items that are going to be extremely detailed and precise? Do you want to print rather large objects that can be completed in the most optimum time frame? Or do you simply want to print your items with a durable nozzle that does not need to be replaced so often?
At the end of the day, each 3D printing nozzle that you look at is going to have its perks and its drawbacks. What you want to ask yourself is exactly what you want to achieve with 3D printing so that you can choose your nozzle accordingly. Many 3D engineers often find themselves working with a wide variety of designs, materials, and timeframes. If that is the case for you, it may be advantageous to have a handful of different nozzles in your arsenal so that you can change them as needed for each project.
There are a lot of different factors that are tied into what actually makes the best 3D printing nozzle. Before we get into specific 3D printing nozzle options and brands, we are going to break down some of the factors that determine the quality of the various nozzles that are out there so that you are able to make an educated decision with your selection.
One of the most critical factors of any nozzle is the material that it is made out of. A 3D printing nozzle’s material will determine its longevity but it can also influence the quality of your print. Some nozzles were designed specifically for their thermal conductivity. Whereas others are more focused on delivering durability and continued use.
The material that you choose will help you prioritize the features and characteristics that you want your nozzle to have. In addition, you will find that the materials used to make nozzles will also be correlated with different price ranges, which can be a significant selling point for some individuals. Overall, your nozzle’s material is going to be an important aspect of your machine’s performance and your final product. Let’s dive right into the different types of nozzle materials.
The most common material you see used for 3D printing nozzles is brass. It is often the cheapest nozzle type out there but by no means does that imply that it delivers poor quality prints.
Just like every nozzle, brass has its pros and cons. A very important feature of any 3D printing nozzle is its thermal conductivity and brass materials excel in this feature. A brass nozzle has a thermal conductivity rate of 105 w/mk (watt per meter by Kelvin), which is nearly 5 times better than just about every type of other nozzle used.
This is one of the reasons that brass nozzles continue to have so much popularity to this day. In addition, brass nozzles are the cheapest option that you have available to you, which is great for those of you that want to pursue your 3D printing on a budget.
With that being said, brass nozzles do come with their fair share of flaws. Although this material is regarded for its thermal conductivity, it does tend to be considerably more fragile than other materials used. Brass nozzles are notorious for having short lifespans and will need to be replaced quite regularly. They have a hardness rate that is half that of other nozzles and they have a maximum temperature of just 570 degrees in most cases.
This can be particularly frustrating when you want to print items using adverse materials such as NylonX and carbon fiber. Although brass nozzles do need to be replaced more frequently, the good news is that they tend to come in bulk packages of at least 20 per box, which means that you get quite a bit for what you pay for.
Another very common material for 3D printing nozzles is steel. You will see 2 variations of steel nozzles when considering your options - stainless steel and hardened steel.
Both of these nozzles have great characteristics to offer and also some drawbacks. Steel is highly regarded as being a durable metal, which is certainly the case when 3D printing. Whether you choose stainless steel or hardened steel, you will find that both options will be fantastic for delivering longevity of use - hardened steel, in particular, is the most durable material out there for nozzles.
This is a great material for creators that want to print using adverse materials. NylonX and carbon fiber are notorious for being challenging to deal with and steel is one of your best bets if you want to be able to print reliably with these materials.
Now, while steel nozzles are great for this kind of performance, they are quite poor in thermal conductivity. Hardened steel has a thermal conductivity rate of 22 w/mk and stainless steel has a rate of just 17 w/mk. This is considerably worse than brass, which is something to certainly consider when weighing out what you aim to achieve with your prints. However, you can heat your steel nozzle to temperatures of up to 700 to 850 degrees, depending on the nozzle type, which is much better than brass.
If you want to go for a lower-end steel nozzle, you will find many options on the market (in smaller quantities) that are in the same range as brass nozzles. However, if you want to buy a quality steel tip, you can expect the price point to increase significantly.
One of the best nozzles that you can buy for your 3D printer is a ruby nozzle. There are various types of ruby nozzles on the market but they can be easily identified by their colorful ruby tip.
This is a 3D printing nozzle that is made out of two different components the ruby tip and the metal base. This is a fantastic option for achieving well-rounded results from your prints, as you are able to harness the best of both worlds with this kind of design.
The ruby tip of this nozzle enables you to have extreme durability. So much so, that ruby tip nozzles have been regarded as being virtually indestructible (within reason). This means that you can print with materials such as NylonX, PETG, ABS, and PEEK without worrying about wear and tear.
In addition, this style of 3D printing nozzle also can have great thermal conductivity. You can expect to get a thermal conductivity rate of about 45 w/mk with a ruby tip nozzle which is double the amount of steel and about half of what you get with brass. However, the temperature that your ruby tip can withstand is considerably higher than the rest of the competition at 900 degrees. Although the ruby tip nozzle does have all of these great features and characteristics, you are going to have to pay for them, as the cost of one of these nozzles can range from $50 to hundreds of dollars depending on the type that you get.
The next characteristic that you want to consider when choosing the best 3D printing nozzle is the bore diameter of the nozzle.
The bore diameter is going to influence some of the capabilities and characteristics of your final product. When it comes to selecting the right bore diameter there is no real right or wrong answer. Unlike choosing a material for your nozzle, which can be measured in various physical qualities, the bore diameter of your nozzle is going to influence the precision of each print as well as the amount of time that it is going to take for each item to process.
When selecting a bore diameter, you want to reflect on what you want to achieve with the final result of your print. Do you want to have an incredibly finite item that is meticulous and very detailed, a large item that can be created in a reasonable timeframe, or something that is well-rounded and can offer the best of both worlds?
When assessing bore diameters for your 3D printing nozzle, you will see just about all options available measured out from 0.1mm to 1.0mm. The current golden industry standard is currently 0.4mm, which is regarded as being the most optimum for general printing. However, you will find that each measurement can be ideally suited for specific designs and conditions.
The bore diameter of your nozzle is a subjective characteristic of how you print your items, as each size has incredible benefits to offer. Once you begin to feel acquainted and comfortable with your prints, you will find that being selective with which bore diameter you choose for each print will be a crucial aspect of getting the exact results that you want. In combination with the right material, choosing the right bore diameter can result in masterful 3D prints. Let’s explore bore diameters in more detail.
Small Bore Diameter - 0.1mm to 0.3mm
This is the ideal bore diameter for printing smaller projects and items that you want to have a lot of detail.
This is a great size for tabletop items and jewelry, as you will get the most precision for these kinds of crafts. However, if you try to create anything larger, you will find that the time frame to print a single object can be extensive.
Standard Bore Diameter - 0.4mm
As mentioned above, 0.4mm is the golden standard for bore diameter. You will see most of the options on the market labeled with this measurement and there is a reason for that. This bore diameter has proven to be the most well-rounded size for offering solid results as far as detail and precision - while at the same time delivering the product in a reasonable timeframe.
Large Bore Diameter - .05mm to 1.0mm
This size is great for pumping out projects as quickly as possible. You can create large items in a reasonable amount of time for their size.
However, what you will find with this size is that the details of your prints are not nearly as precise and can often look a bit tacky. Depending on what you want to achieve with your print this can be a pro or a con.
3D Printing Nozzle Options
The world of 3D printing is ever-evolving and so are the nozzle options that are available to us. This is a competitive industry and the manufacturers behind this technology are constantly trying to one-up each other with better products.
With that being said, there are a lot of great 3D printing nozzles out there for you to consider when making a selection. What you are going to want to do as you weigh out your options is to reflect on what you want to achieve with your prints based on the above-mentioned factors and nozzle characteristics. At the end of the day, 3D printing nozzles are going to vary greatly in their performance and capabilities. Let’s take a look at our top picks for 3D printing nozzle options.
You will find that one of the most highly-regarded 3D printing nozzle manufacturers out there is E3D.
They are no stranger to the business and have continued to prove themselves time and time again as being one of the leaders of the industry by delivering high-quality products at reasonable price ranges.
Whether you are considering one of their hardened steel models or a brass option, you know that if it has the E3D stamp of approval it is going to be a great nozzle. Given that E3D does have such a wide variety of nozzles available on the market, it would be wise to choose whether you want the durability of steel or the thermal conductivity of brass when making a selection.
With that being said, E3D offers a lot of different nozzle materials outside of the traditional steel and brass, which are available in a variety of different boar diameters. This can make choosing just one nozzle from E3D quite challenging. If you want to achieve a dynamic range for your prints, then it would be wise to have several different nozzles handy so that you can swap them out for each specific design.
Olson Ruby Nozzle
We touched on ruby nozzles as being some of the most dynamic options that are on the market. The one nozzle of this classification that truly surpasses all of its competition is the Olson Ruby Nozzle.
If you are looking for essentially a one-stop shop to take care of the bulk of your 3D printing needs, there is really no better option out there than the Olson Ruby. This is a high-performance printing nozzle that ticks the boxes in every category when it comes to 3D printing.
There are a couple of different options available for the base metal for this nozzle but as a standard, it will be sold in bronze. However, the ruby tip of this nozzle ensures that you will have longevity with this product and that it can handle higher temperatures, as well as hard materials.
However, the Olson Ruby Nozzle is that it is not cheap. You can expect to pay upwards of $80 to $100 for just a single nozzle, but it is well worth the money.
Luter Extruder Nozzles
If you want to jump right into 3D printing, some of the best nozzles that you can consider are from Luter Extruder.
These are very well-rounded as far as quality and they come in a dynamic range of materials and bore diameter sizes, so you can really tailor to whatever specifications you want to achieve. This is especially great if you want to test out a variety of different items to sample results.
The best thing about Luter Extruder Nozzles is that they are very affordable. You can easily get a set for as little as $10 to $15 and you can start printing awesome items right away. However, a cheap price does not mean a cheap product with these nozzles, as they are capable of delivering great results.
If you go with the standard brass nozzles, you should expect to replace them pretty regularly, but if you want to get longevity from your Luter Extruders, they have excellent hardened steel options. All in all, this is one of the best bangs for your buck 3D printing nozzles.