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Ender 3 Nozzle Size – Which Sizes Are Supported?

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by Jacob Greenburg
Apr 7, 2019

Ender 3 Nozzle Size – Which Sizes Are Supported?

Enjoying the quality prints on your Creality Ender 3 but looking for a little more? Perhaps you should consider swapping the nozzle. Find out more about the different Ender 3 nozzle sizes and material options!

Ender 3 Nozzle Size The Cherry on Top

An assortment of different nozzle sizes.
An assortment of different nozzle sizes. Source: All3DP

Creality’s hot end is a workhorse in the 3D printing world. Its simplistic design lends itself to being incorporated into one of the most sold 3D printers to date, the Ender 3. By default, the Ender 3 comes with a 0.4-mm brass nozzle, which fits in the heat block with an M6 thread.

The nozzle arrangement has the designation of an MK8 hot end from the RepRap 3D printer community. The printer uses the MK8 due to its simplicity, effectiveness and because it’s open-source, meaning that it has a large following amongst hobbyists.

Brass is Boss

In the world of FDM printing, the brass 0.4-mm nozzle is king, and the with the Ender 3, it’s no exception. What makes brass a good default material is that it’s cheap, easily formed, conducts heat well, and doesn’t tarnish or oxidize easily.

Naturally, brass also has its drawbacks, namely that it’s soft and doesn’t hold up well against the abrasive nature of more exotic filament types. Yet, given the Ender 3’s price point and the majority of hobbyists printing in your fundamental PLA, ABS, and PETG, accessibility and low price have made this nozzle the perfect match.

Sized to Standard

Considering the size of the Ender 3, the 0.4-mm nozzle diameter is a good middle ground. This diameter is small enough to produce proper layer heights from as low as 0.12 mm to as large as 0.24 mm without trouble. Additionally, it’s large enough that most particulates will pass through smoothly, lending to fewer clogs. 

The question is, what other size options exist for the Ender 3? Keep reading to find out what opportunities you have for larger and smaller nozzle diameters. Additionally, we’ll take a look at some exotic nozzles available for the Ender 3, which have different material properties or specialty purposes. 

Ender 3 Nozzle Size Does a Bigger Nozzle Print Faster?

Layer lines when printing with a 1.0-mm nozzle.
Layer lines when printing with a 1.0-mm nozzle. Source: tridimake.com

While the Ender 3’s 0.4-mm nozzle diameter is the reasonable middle ground, there are other options. But why would you want to change your nozzle size? How are prints affected when you exchange the Ender 3 nozzle for a larger diameter? 

Why go larger? (0.5 mm, 0.6 mm, 0.8 mm, 1.0 mm)

Pros

  • Faster print speeds: Since 3D printers draw an object layer by layer, having a larger nozzle allows for a more considerable layer height. This increased height gives you a faster print time since it takes fewer passes to complete the part. 
  • Stronger parts: One of the contributors to weaker parts in 3D printing versus, for example, injection molding is the creation of the layers in the printing process. When using a larger nozzle, there are fewer layers and each is larger and more consistent. A second effect is that the larger layer strands have greater surface areas with which to adhere to one another. 

Cons

  • Faster print speeds (sorta): With a larger diameter nozzle, more plastic can be pushed out. However, the drawback to this is the amount of heat required to keep the plastic melted up to the nozzles heat break. If the hot end isn’t up to the task of heating the larger mass of plastic, the only solution is to maintain a slower print speed.
  • Visible layers: One of the major arguments against large-nozzle 3D printing, “Yeah, but I can see layers all over that.” A larger nozzle is only going to accentuate those layer lines.

Verdict: If you need to print something huge, which needs to be strong, and layers don’t bother you, upgrade that nozzle to a 0.6-mm or 0.8-mm. Just be cautious of a 1.0-mm nozzle. The stock Ender 3 hot end has a challenging time pushing that much plastic.

Ender 3 Nozzle Size Does a Smaller Nozzle Mean Higher Quality?

The clarity when printing using a 0.2-mm nozzle.
The clarity when printing using a 0.2-mm nozzle. Source: Dyn_Eq / Reddit

How do you minimize layer lines? A smaller nozzle for your Ender 3 might be the solution. 

Why go smaller? (0.2 mm, 0.25 mm, 0.3 mm)

Pros

  • Subtle layers: When specifying a printer’s layer height, one typically takes 50% of the nozzle diameter. If you’re looking at making something that’s small and requires fine detail, a 0.2-mm nozzle can easily handle 0.08-mm layer heights.
  • Fine detail: Nozzle diameter affects not only layer height, but also X and Y resolution. With a finer nozzle, it’s possible to capture smaller surface details that would otherwise be smoothed out or removed by slicing software working with a larger nozzle. 

Cons

  • Clogged nozzles: With a much narrower opening, a 0.2-mm nozzle has a higher likelihood of jamming with the smallest impurity or spec of dust than a larger nozzle does. A good filament wipe sponge with mineral spirits can help with this.
  • Slow print speeds: A small layer height can lead to massive print times. Trying to make something with a 0.08-mm layer height can take at least three times as long as with a layer height of 0.24 mm. And that’s not including infill or other non-linear considerations.

Verdict: If you’re interested in making scaled miniatures with high accuracy, time is not a factor, and you can accept higher maintenance, consider using a smaller nozzle. The detail will amaze you and your friends, who won’t believe it didn’t come from a resin 3D printer.

Ender 3 Nozzle Size Exotic Materials

The ultra wear-resistant Olsson ruby nozzle.
The ultra wear-resistant Olsson ruby nozzle. Source: OlssonRuby.com

When we discussed nozzles greater than 0.8 mm, we noted that the stock Ender 3 hot end isn’t sufficient to keep up with heating the filament. Luckily, there are companies like E3D and their volcano product line, which make it possible to add larger nozzles to the Ender 3 without compromising print speed. Their system works by adding more metal mass to the heat block and orienting the heater cartridge such that it makes a larger melt zone in the Ender 3’s hot end.

The material that makes up your Ender 3 nozzle also makes a huge difference. The extrusion nozzle can be more than the standard brass when printing abrasive filaments materials like carbon fiber or metal-filled PLA.

Here are some examples of nozzles you can attach to your Ender 3 if you’re considering abrasive filament, ordered from least to most wear-resistant:

  • Brass: Standard wear resistance, excellent heat transfer.
  • Stainless steel: Better wear resistance, food safe.
  • Carbon steel: Good wear resistance.
  • A2 tool steel: Great wear resistance.
  • Copper with sapphire ruby: Best wear resistance, good heat transfer.
  • Nozzle X, “PolyPhobic”: High wear resistance, requires E3D V6 hot end

With so many nozzles available, there’s sure to be one that matches your need and application. We hope you’ve enjoyed our survey of different nozzle sizes for the Ender 3 and their effect on your prints. As always, happy printing!

Feature image source: diyelectronics.co.za

License: The text of "Ender 3 Nozzle Size – Which Sizes Are Supported?" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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