None of the components on a 3D printer last indefinitely, and nozzles are prone to wear, requiring replacement when they become damaged. Maintaining a nozzle is not costly and significantly contributes to stable printing quality. This article discusses how often you should replace your nozzle, signs indicating when it's time for a replacement, and how to maintain your nozzle.
How Often Should I Replace My 3D Printer Nozzle?
In general, it is recommended to change your nozzle every 3-6 months, depending on your printing frequency and the nozzle material used. If you print frequently, it may be necessary to replace it every 3 months. When you usually print at slower speeds and maintain proper cleaning of printer, you are able to extend the nozzle's lifespan.
The cost of maintaining a nozzle is relatively low, yet it can significantly prolong the printer's lifespan and ensure high-quality prints. It's important to note that not all 3D printer nozzles are universal; they may not be compatible with different machines. It is advisable to purchase nozzles from the printer manufacturer, as they are 100% compatible with your 3D printer. For instance, Anycubic offers Kobra nozzle replacement for the Kobra 2 Series, ensuring a perfect fit.
Changing a nozzle is not a challenging task and typically requires tools such as a wrench, socket and ratchet. However, you should heat up your printer first, and you need to carefully remove the nozzle, which becomes very hot. Wearing heat-resistant gloves can protect your hands from high-temperature burns during the replacement. Here is a step-by-step guide that shows the process of replacing a nozzle.
How Do I Know If My 3D Printer Nozzle Is Worn Out?
Method 1: Visual Inspection
(Image source: Anycubic official user group)
The simplest and quickest method is to visually inspect your printer nozzle. Take a new nozzle and compare it to the currently used one, and the differences in size and diameter can tell you the answer. A worn nozzle will be shorter, its tip will be rounded, and its hole will be enlarged. These signs indicate the need for a new nozzle.
Method 2: Extrusion Testing
You can know if you should replace your 3D printer nozzle by testing the flow of filament extrusion from the nozzle. Heat and load the filament into your printer, then wait for the plastic to flow out of the nozzle. You should expect the material to flow down steadily, which is a sign of a healthy nozzle. Conversely, if you see the extruded plastic curling, becoming too thin or too thick, or forming lumps, this is an indication of a damaged nozzle.
Why Do I Need to Replace a Worn-out Nozzle?
For a long time use, a nozzle will experience wear due to various factors. If the bed and nozzle come too close, the nozzle may get worn as it scrapes against the bed and collides with the printed object during printing. Additionally, residual filament can accumulate in the nozzle, sometimes being difficult to remove, leading to inconsistent extrusion. 3D prints may be created with some issues like over-extrusion, under-extrusion, or clogged nozzle. In these cases, you should replace the worn nozzle in a timely manner to ensure print quality.
How to Extend the Lifespan of My 3D Printer Nozzle
Always use high-quality filament. Printing with a filament of poor quality not only results in bad prints but can also damage your nozzle. Filaments from unreliable manufacturers often operate under poor conditions and use inferior materials, producing filaments with wide tolerances. This can lead to reduced print accuracy and an increased likelihood of filament buildup inside the nozzle, which can cause nozzle clogs. It is recommended to use well-known brands like Anycubic, a 3D printer manufacturer that offers reliable products globally. Anycubic also provides a variety of materials, including 1.75mm PLA and 1.75mm PETG, known for their low tolerance and stability, which can reduce clogs and ensure precise printing results. Additionally, opened filament needs to be stored correctly when not in use, away from moisture and dust.
Perform regular maintenance on the nozzle, especially conducting a thorough cleaning every time a print fails. Cleaning out a clogged nozzle can be attempted using three methods: a toolkit, cold pull, or nozzle replacement. For more information, I recommend checking out this article on 'How to Unclog a 3D Printer Nozzle'.