The Best 3d Printer Nozzle Types, Sizes and Materials.

The nozzle length is usually defined by the type and size of the heater block

The nozzle is the mechanical part of the 3D printer that extrudes the filament. It conducts the thermal energy provided by the heating cartridge and block to the filament, melting it. Based on this information, it’s clear that three major characteristics are integral to a nozzle’s design: its size, material, and inner diameter.

The bigger the nozzle, the more mass and surface area available for transferring heat to the filament, making this process more effective and capable of higher extrusion speeds. Thermal conduction also relates to the nozzle material, as each material conducts energy differently based on its properties.

Lastly, the inner diameter of the nozzle affects the amount of plastic extruded per second, a property known as flow, which also determines the maximum extrusion speed. The inner diameter also relates to final part accuracy: Smaller diameters allow for thinner layers and walls to be printed.

In summary, all three nozzle characteristics can have a large impact on how long your part takes to print as well as the quality of the final object. Usually, a compromise between these two outcomes must be reached. In the next sections, we’ll detail each of these aspects separately and present a few designs available on the market.


The overall size of a nozzle will determine how well it can heat up the filament during extrusion. By nozzle size, we mean the physical mass and length of the part. This should not be mistaken for the bore diameter, which is a measure of the inner space through which the filament is fed.


There aren’t that many different nozzle sizes available on the market, as the shaft length of the nozzle is dictated by the block type and size. The current standard dimensions for these parts comply with V6 hot ends and MK8 extruders, with a total length of 12 to 13 mm from the tip to the end of the M6x1 thread.


The so-called Volcano hot ends are specifically designed for higher speeds and temperatures, with claims of processing at least three times more plastic than the regular V6 hot ends. For such reasons, Volcanos require a lengthier nozzle, usually 21 mm from end to end to promote better thermal conduction.


The third size option, although rarely seen in stock 3D printers, is the SuperVolcano. As the name implies, it is an even longer version of the Volcano nozzle, measuring an almost ridiculous 50 mm in length. To handle such enormous dimensions, the heater cartridge is rated for 80W and can reach temperatures of 500 °C.


Moving on, the next nozzle property on the list is the material. All nozzles produced today are made of some kind of metal due to its relatively high thermal conductivity and tight fabrication tolerances. With that said, different metals are used in nozzle fabrication. Each has unique properties, which influence the 3D printing process in different ways. Let’s talk about some of the most popular materials.


Brass is the current standard material used in 3D printing nozzles

Brass is by far the most common metal used for 3D printer nozzles. This copper-zinc alloy offers great heat transfer at a relatively low cost. However, while these nozzles tend to be inexpensive, brass isn’t the most resistant material and is highly vulnerable to wear.

Brass nozzles can deteriorate externally from every bump or scrape that might happen during the 3D printing process. Even though this is not immediately noticeable, the wear and tear builds up slowly over time, which can truly compromise important external dimensions of the nozzle.

Special 3D printing materials like carbon fiber and metal-filled filaments contain abrasive particles that can ruin the nozzle’s internal surfaces if used regularly. A damaged internal bore can compromise print quality, and the catch is, this erosion is virtually impossible to spot and diagnose. For this reason, brass nozzles are better used for printing non-abrasive materials.

  • Maximum temperature: 300 °C
  • Best used with: Non-abrasive filaments such as PLAABSPETGNylon, and TPE
Stainless Steel
Stainless steel nozzles are slightly tougher than brass and are theoretically suitable for food-grade materials

tainless steel is another popular material used in nozzles, as it provides a slightly better wear-resistance than its brass counterparts. They also prevent, to some degree, melted plastic from getting stuck to its surfaces, keeping it tidier.

These nozzles don’t contaminate the print with lead, which can occur with brass nozzles. Stainless steel nozzles are therefore theoretically suitable for food-grade materials.

Stainless steel allows for a wider variety of filaments to be used but is still not recommended for heavy usage of abrasive materials. It’s also less thermally conductive in comparison to brass.

Hardened Steel

As they're quite wear resistant, hardened steel nozzles are recommended for printing with abrasive filaments

Hardened steel nozzles are a major upgrade, as they’re tough enough for frequent use of abrasive materials and offer literally years of use without replacement. However, this material has an even lower thermal conductivity than the previous two materials and takes longer to achieve the target temperature.

Being such a hard metal, the bore machining of these nozzles is also problematic. Some claim that its internal surface is not as smooth as other “softer” materials, possibly leading to lower quality printing. Please consider all the above before committing to these nozzles, as they’re also more costly than the regular ones.

  • Maximum temperature: 500 °C
  • Best used with: All materials, including heavy use of abrasive materials

Assembled Nozzles

Being the cream of the crop, assembled nozzles have the best performance overall but are quite pricey

ssembled nozzles are made from two separate parts that are joined together, each one made of a different material to leverage the best properties of each. We’ve already seen that some materials – hardened steel, for example – offer less thermal conductivity, even though they are highly durable.

Assembled nozzles usually have a bulk material that has great heat transfer properties while the inner part that makes contact with the filament has durable and abrasion-resistant properties. The idea is to have the best of both worlds in one single nozzle.

These special nozzles are specifically recommended for high-temperature applications and materials such as PEEK and carbon fiber filament. As we’ll see later, some of these nozzles include high-grade materials like ruby. Needless to say, assembled nozzles are far more expensive than regular brass and stainless steel varieties.

  • Maximum temperature: High temperatures, but the exact maximum temperature varies between models
  • Best used with: All materials, including heavy use of abrasive materials and engineering plastics such as PEEK and Ultem

Bore Diameter

The Internal diameter size defines the maximum rate of extruded plastic and also the final precision of the part

The final and perhaps most delicate nozzle characteristic to consider is the internal bore diameter. Nozzle diameters generally range from 0.1 mm all the way up to 1.0 mm. This gives the 3D printer user a great degree of flexibility. With so many options, which one is the one to go with?

In the end, it’s all about balancing how much filament is extruded and how fast. The absolute standard in 3D printers today is the 0.4-mm nozzle, which is found in almost all popular machines. This diameter provides a great balance between speed and precision.

It’s worth noting that the recommended layer height range is somewhat dependent on the nozzle diameter. As a general rule, the maximum layer height values should not exceed 80% of the nozzle diameter. For example, a 0.4-mm nozzle has a recommended maximum layer height of 0.32 mm.

It goes without saying that larger nozzles will extrude more material through thicker layer heights and widths. On the other hand, smaller nozzles (less than 0.4 mm) can yield amazingly detailed prints with barely visible layer marks. Unfortunately, it comes with a reduction in print speed and an increased possibility of clogging since the bore diameter is so small.


  • Reduced print time
  • Fewer nozzle-related print errors
  • Recommended for abrasive material (less prone to clog with particles)


  • Higher precision
  • Higher quality overhangs
  • Supports are easier to remove


The Olsson Ruby is an assembled nozzle with a super tough ruby tip

Now that we’ve covered the most important aspects of nozzle design, let’s take some time to review some well-known models available on the market today.


E3D, a British manufacturer of hot ends (and other 3D printer parts) operates as a hardware open-source company, which in turn “inspires” most other manufacturers to follow their designs, including its nozzles.

As of today, E3D offers nozzles for V6Volcano, and SuperVolcano hot ends in the following materials: brass, stainless steel, hardened steel, plated copper, and nickel-plated hardened tool steel. The last of these is marketed as Nozzle X. Internal bore diameter sizes vary but often range from 0.25 to 0.8 mm.


Another big company in the 3D printing business, MatterHackers has its own line of so-called CleanTip nozzles. These nozzles are available in brass and stainless steel, both coated with Tungsten Disulfide for frictionless and easier cleaning purposes. Sizes vary, covering most hot ends and 3D printers around and with inner diameter options from 0.25 to 1.20 mm.

Micro Swiss

Micro Swiss is yet another popular 3D printing company located in the US. What most people don’t know is that they started as a manufacturer of brass nozzles.

The American company now works with three different materials: brass and hardened tool steel – both with a wear-resistant special coating – and a high-speed steel-plated nozzle, designed to withstand abrasion in high-temperature applications. Sizes vary depending on the material and model but are generally in the range of 0.2 to 1.2 mm.

Slice Engineering

Slice Engineering is mostly known for its sophisticated hot end designs like the Mosquito and, more recently, the Copperhead. Their Vanadium nozzle is made from vanadium-alloyed high-speed steel for greater abrasion resistance and high-temperature printing. This nozzle is available only in a short version (i.e. V6-style) in bore diameter sizes from 0.2 mm to an incredible 1.8 mm.

Olsson Ruby

Last but definitely not least, here’s a well-known nozzle that could be considered a piece of jewelry: the Olsson Ruby. The bulk material of the nozzle is brass, but it features a ruby tip for extra wear resistance. The company also offers a high-temperature version of this nozzle in a copper alloy, which can withstand up to 500 °C. The nozzle comes in different sizes and in bore diameters of 0.4 mm, 0.6 mm, and 0.8 mm. At ~$90 apiece, this is truly a gem.

What's the best Nozzle?

The best nozzle is actually the one that best suits your needs and applications

As you can see, it’s very important to give serious thought to which nozzle you’re using. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of different nozzle designs and materials can greatly improve your machine’s performance and the quality of your prints.

So which nozzle is the best? That’s up to you to decide. It comes down to your particular printing setup, the array of materials you print with, and whether you’re more willing to compromise on quality or speed.

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