Nozzles have a considerable impact on the quality of the print in 3D printers. So, if you want to obtain quality prints or results, you need to make sure that your nozzle is in great working condition at all times.
Hence, regular maintenance of the nozzle and replacing it when it’s worn out or damaged will be necessary. But, if you have never owned a 3D printer before, you may be wondering when will be the best time to replace the nozzles. So, how often should you replace a 3D printer nozzle? Well, this guide has the answers.
How to Determine If your Printer Nozzle is Worn-Out
The nozzle does most of the work in a 3D printer. And with time, this nozzle will gradually wear out, thus damaging the quality of the print. Hence, it’s important to keep a closer eye on your nozzle, so that it doesn’t get to that point. So, how can you tell that your 3D printer nozzle is worn-out and needs to be replaced? Well, you have a few approaches you can use. They include:
First, you can conduct a visual inspection of the nozzle. With this test, you will be checking the differences between when the 3D printer nozzle was new and how it appears now. For this test, you will be focusing on its diameter size. If the nozzle appears bigger than it was when it was new, then it’s a sign that it’s already wearing out. And, you will need to replace it as soon as possible. If you fail to do so, the quality of your prints will begin deteriorating.
Second, you should check for imperfections like curves, marks, grooves, bumps and ridges on the nozzle material. If you notice these imperfections or deteriorations on the nozzle material, then it’s a clear sign that the nozzle is worn out, and you will need to replace it.
Third, you should also inspect the nozzle’s tip or diameter. If you notice that the nozzle’s tip has become somehow rounded, replacing your nozzle will be the best solution. The nozzle’s tip should be sharp. Also, it should be free of chips, accumulated debris or nicks.
Fourth, you should conduct the extrusion test. This test entails extruding plastic spaghetti from the nozzle. The plastic spaghetti you’ve extracted from the nozzle should form a straight line. If it appears curly or twisted, then it’s a clear sign that your nozzle is damaged or worn out. Hence, you should consider replacing it right away.
How 3D Printer Nozzles Get Damaged or Worn-out
Similar to other parts in a 3D Printer, the nozzle is prone to wear and tear. However, there are certain practices, which can accelerate this wear and tear, thus necessitating the need for a replacement. They include:
Printing with More Abrasive or Harder Materials
Printing with more abrasive and harder materials like polycarbonate, nylon, carbon fiber and certain types of glow-in-the-dark filament will place a considerable amount of stress on the printer’s nozzle. So, if you are constantly printing with such materials, the lifespan of your nozzle will reduce significantly.
Consequently, the nozzle will wear out sooner compared to printing with polylactic acid (PLA), PETG or ABS filaments. As a result, you will have to keep replacing it or upgrade it to one that’s made of stronger or harder materials like stainless steel, ruby or hardened steel.
Printing too Close to the Print Bed
Printing too close to the print bed can also lead to premature damage to the nozzle. When you print too close to the print bed, the nozzle will get scratched, bent, or incur other forms of damage, meaning you will have to replace it to maintain high-quality prints.
Also, printing too close to the print bed will damage the print bed itself. And while replacing the nozzle is easy, this is not the same case with the print bed. For the print bed, you will first have to purchase it separately and then find a technician to do the replacement. And the entire process can be quite costly.
When to Replace 3D Printer Nozzles
3D printer nozzles don’t come with a specific time frame as to when you should replace them. As you may expect, their overall lifespan will depend on various factors. However, there are certain recommended timelines for replacement, depending on the material used to make the nozzle.
Brass nozzles are the most commonly used nozzles in the 3D printing industry. The reason behind their popularity is their affordability combined with their great thermal-conductivity properties. Also, brass nozzles are highly versatile. You can use them to print using various types of filaments.
So, when should you replace brass 3D printer nozzles? On average, brass 3D printer nozzles used a couple of times per week will last around three to six months. In case you print daily, you can expect your brass nozzles to last around four weeks or so.
Hardened Steel and Stainless Steel
Stainless steel and hardened steel are mainly used in medical grade and food-safe printing. As you may expect, hardened steel and stainless steel nozzles will last longer compared to their brass counterparts. But again, this will depend on the filament type you are using and your print volume. On average, these nozzles will last around 12 months or so.
Ruby-tipped nozzles are also another option. These nozzles feature a ruby tip and a brass body. These nozzles are currently the priciest in the market. However, they are said to last a lifetime. So, as much as you may have to spend a fortune on these nozzles, you won’t have to worry about replacing them any time soon.
Studies show that ruby-tipped nozzles can obtain a printing temperature of around 5000C, meaning you can print with almost any type of filament with this type of nozzle. So, if you usually do high-volume printing, then ruby-tipped nozzles will be the most ideal solution for you.
Wrapping It Up
How often or when to replace your 3D printer nozzle will depend on the type of printing that you do, the number of hours your printer is running every day as well as the nozzle’s material. However, the tips we’ve shared in this article should eliminate any confusion as to when to replace 3D printer nozzles.