HackSpace magazine

E3D Nozzle Fun Pack review

By Ben Everard. Posted

There is no perfect nozzle for printing with hot plastic because it’s a trade-off between speed and quality. Smaller nozzles can print with incredible detail, but take a long time to do it. Larger nozzles are quicker, but can leave large layer lines. Most 3D printers ship with a 0.4 mm nozzle, and this is a pretty good compromise. They print small things quite well, and aren’t too slow if you want to do something big. However, if you’re doing something a little outside of ‘average’, then you can get a big advantage by changing the nozzle.

The E3D Nozzle Fun Pack comes with a range of six different nozzles, from 0.25 mm to 0.8 mm. These let you pick the perfect size for your print, at least among those that are broadly compatible with most 3D printers. Speaking of compatibility, these nozzles are compatible with E3D hot-ends, including those used on official Prusa and LulzBot printers. The other popular standard is MK8, which does look quite similar, so double-check what your printer needs before ordering.

Nozzles do come a little smaller and larger than this range, but they’re a bit more difficult to use. If you want to go smaller than 0.25 mm, you’ll probably find that you need to use specialist high-flow filaments. If you want to go larger, you’ll find that on most 3D printers you won’t get a speed-up as the hot-end won’t be able to heat up plastic fast enough to use a larger nozzle size (there are specialist hot-ends that allow this, but they don’t usually ship as standard on 3D printers). As well as heating, cooling is a problem with larger nozzles. More plastic needs more airflow to get it to solidify, so you may struggle with overhangs if you’re pushing the limits with a large nozzle.

Setting up

Replacing a nozzle is fairly simple, as they just unscrew and screw back in (a small spanner is included to help with this). You do need to be a little careful not to damage the threads on the hot-end, so it’s worth checking the instructions for your particular printer to see if there are any special steps to take. The biggest risk is working with hot metal, as you have to heat up your hot-end to unscrew the nozzle – make sure it doesn’t drop on you or something it may damage!

Both of these prints took about 20 minutes; the larger with a 0.8mm nozzle and the smaller with a 0.25mm nozzle. We did get some stringing with the smaller nozzle, but this is removeable with the usual processes.

As well as setting up the hardware, you need to configure the software. Your printer manufacturer may provide settings for some of these nozzles (Prusa, for example, provides settings for 0.25 mm and 0.6 mm nozzles in PrusaSlicer). You may be able to find some community-created ones online. However, in order to properly get the full advantage of your nozzles, you may find that you have to create some custom slicer settings. This isn’t as daunting as it sounds – you can often just take an existing profile and tweak a few bits to get it working.

The advantage of having a range of nozzles is that, if one goes a little outside the range of your printer (for example, if 0.8 mm is just a bit too much for your hot-end), or proves tricky to work with a particular filament type, then you can still get an advantage by dialling it back a notch and going for the next nozzle.

We’ve been using this nozzle set for a few months now, and found them really useful. The smaller nozzles have been great for miniatures such as game pieces. With these, the speed isn’t as critical because they’re small anyway and if they’re going to be used a lot, it’s worth spending the time to make sure they’re printed as beautifully as possible. The 0.6 mm nozzle came in handy last month when we were working with wood-fill. The really large nozzles are useful when you need a lot of something quickly, such as when you’re prototyping larger objects and want to see how they fit together, or when you’re in the middle of a pandemic and 3D-printed face shields are useful, but a little slow to produce.

The kit comes with a spanner and a metal storage case

Perhaps the one downside to this is that the nozzles are all brass, so they will gradually wear out (particularly if you’re using abrasive filaments, such as those with metal particles in them). That said, this is a good way of testing out how different nozzle sizes work with your printer, and if you’re finding that you’re using one particular nozzle size with abrasive filament, it might be worth replacing that with something like a hardened steel nozzle.

It’s hard to think of a more cost-effective or easy way to upgrade your 3D printer than a nozzle set. For a fairly small outlay, you get both a big increase in resolution and a big increase in speed (though not at the same time, unfortunately). The E3D Nozzle Fun Pack has a good range of nozzles that should be straightforward to get working with a compatible printer.  

E3D  £30    e3d-online.com

Verdict 

Extend the range of your 3D printer.

9/10


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