Death to the Brass 0.4mm Nozzle

Why are we still shipping these?

Why bother changing a nozzle?

Because the size of the nozzle changes your printing experience. By a lot.

Almost every printer is shipped with a 0.4mm nozzle stock. The thought process is that a 0.4mm nozzle is a good compromise between detail and speed. In practice, however, the 0.4mm nozzle is the Pontiac Aztek of nozzles, producing not-exceptionally-detailed parts with painfully long print times. The nozzle is exactly "good enough", being unable to truly excel with either small uber-detailed models (think jewelry, text, or miniatures) or larger and durable models (think helmets, fixtures, and functional parts).

Why is the nozzle responsible for the change? Simple. The nozzle oriface regulates the different layer thicknesses and extrusion widths that are avaliable to you. Layer lines and extrusion width profoundly effects print times since layer height exponentially changes the amount of layers (or "slices") the printer has to print and extrusion wiidth drastically changes the amount of moves per layer.

For example, a cube that consists of 0.15mm layers consists of twice as many layers as a cube that consists of 0.3mm layers therefore dropping the print times massively.

Small Nozzles

Large Nozzles

Improved Detail in Z

Loss of Z Detail

Easily Removable Support

Much Harder to Clog

Improved Overhangs and Bridging

Much Faster Print Times

Somewhat Reliant on Extruder Precision

Physically Stronger Prints

Use of Filled Materials (Carbon Fiber, Glass, Wood, ect)

Printer Size

Nozzle Size

Miniature (under 200mm²)


Desktop (235mm²-300mm²)


Large Format (300mm²+)


(High-Flow recommended)

What's the "best" nozzle size?

This is a matter of preference, and choosing the best tool for the job at hand.

Perhaps, if you regular print DND minis or Jewelry a 0.2mm or 0.4mm nozzle would be the best fit for the task at hand. The small size of the part though, intuitively, offsets the massive print times. Also, generally speaking, jewelery or minis do not require exceptional strength and durabliity. For larger parts though, using a larger nozzle makes much more sense.

Functional parts and prototyping, for example, requires strength and durability and the oppurtunity to rapidly iterate on your designs is extremely powerful. The best nozzle for desktop sized functional parts is, in our opinion, a 0.6mm nozzle. If you wish to go larger than the 0.6mm nozzle, it is recomended that a "High-Flow" configuration is used (like a Volcano hotend). These conversions are cost effective and easy, so do not let that deter you.

What's up with the different materials?

Nozzles are avaliable in different materials, the most common of which is brass.

Brass is shipped most often because it has good thermal charateristics, but they are also extremely cheap and brass is a relatively soft metal which is easy to machine. The downside to this, is that they need to often be replaced and can be seriously deformed with under a kilogram of abrasive material use. Nozzle wear presents as extrusion artifacts. If your using a brass nozzle, and your printer starts doing weird stuff, replace the nozzle. Sometimes it's that easy.

Stainless steel is used, almost exclusively, for special cases. While it is marginally more wear-resistant than brass, it's true purpose is that there is no lead involved in the manufacturing process in any way. This allows parts printed with a stainless steel nozzle to be used in food or biomedical applications.

The most common nozzle to be upgraded to, for good reason, is a hardened steel nozzle. These are made of tool steel or stronger which allow use of abrasives. Hardened steel nozzles are a forever upgrade which will generally outlast the hotend it is installed in. They are extremely hard, so normal filaments have no chance of damaging it and causing irregularities in the oriface. Note that at temperatures over 400c, tool steel loses its extra hardness. A common concern with hardened nozzles is the poor thermal characteristics of the material. Since the heating element is placed so close to filament path, the poor thermal characteristics are not a significant concern. If problems are relating to this, temperature should be increased in 5c increments until problem resolves.

Finally, nickel plated copper nozzles are appearing with increasing frequency. The marketing pitch is that copper offers very good thermal properties and the nickel coating is nonstick. This should, in turn, allow a higher flow rate. this true, however copper loses it's thermal properties quickley when alloyed. It is not uncommon for unscrupulous manufacturers to use alloyed copper but be less-than-transparent about it. These nozzles also do not lose resistance to the same degree steel does when superheated. That said, the nonstick coating is very nice, but if you purchase a copper nozzle be sure to do your homework

A blurb about "exotic" nozzle materials

A couple manufacturers have produced some nozzles that don't fit nicely in the above categories, and they'll be addressed here. These include….

Starting with the Bridgemaster, and followed by the Vanadium Nozzle since they are both made by Slice Engineering.

The Bridgemaster nozzle is a plated copper nozzle which is marketed towards improving bridging by superior thermal conduction. The other Slice offering is the Vanadium nozzle, which is reported to be "made of what other hardened nozzles are machined with". It is -the- hardened steel nozzle, and they are willing to back their product up with a lifetime warranty against nozzle wear.

Bondtech and 3D Solex's CHT Nozzle are fairly new, but already extremely impressive. The tri-core heating technology increases hotend flow by at least 30%, effectively turning any hotend into a "high flow" hotend. Unfortunately, they are only offered in coated brass, but hopefully a hardened steel version will be released so we can use these with abrasive filaments.

Both Diamondback Nozzle and the Olsson Ruby nozzle are gemstone-inset. The goal is to bridge good thermal performance with wear resistance, however it comes at staggering pricetag. You may be tempted to buy an imitation product, but make sure to do your homework since the synthetic gemstones have been reported to fall out or crack due to heating and cooling cyles.


Very soft, good thermal properties, but requires frequent replacement.


Marginally more wear resistant than brass, used for specialist use.

Hardened Steel

Very wear resisitant, but more costly than other options. Able to handle abrasive materials, but poor thermals.

Plated Copper

Exceptional thermal characteristics with a non-stick coating. Be mindful of imitiations.

Nozzle Change Procedure

  1. Heat the hotend to approximately print temperature. The entirety of the procedure should be done hot.
  2. Immobilize the heater block with a spanner or appropriately sized wrench. This is critical to protect the integrity of the heatbreak.
  3. Physically unscrew the nozzle from the heater block. Counterclockwise.
  4. Discard original nozzle and screw in replacement nozzle with wrench or appropriately sized socket. Clockwise. Do not over-torque a 3D printer nozzle.
  5. Allow the hotend to return to room temperature before printing to ensure a good seal. Be mindful not to burn yourself.

What settings need changed?

In the slicer, there is an option to set the nozzle size for your printer. Changing this is mandatory.

It is recommended to verify flow when changing nozzle size. Remember that when layers get larger, print speed should get slower to allow the filament more time in the "melt zone" to fully liquify. "Extrusion Width"is generally equal to nozzle diameter by default, but this is not a hard and fast rule. Play with your settings until you find something that you like.

What's the best nozzle size?

While personal preference reigns, we believe the best option for the vast majority of users is a hardened steel 0.6mm nozzle. This is a true offering for a middle ground between quality and speed, and with modern slicers enabling a different layer height for infill the 0.6mm nozzle allows you to use a 0.2mm wall height and a 0.6mm infill height there is very little down side. That is why Fayette County Additive hotends come with one stock. Even if your using a stock hotend or a hobbyist hotend, it's still worthwhile to change to a 0.6mm nozzle. Or something else.

Or if you really like it, you can keep the 0.4mm nozzle that came with your machine. No offense taken.