How to Upgrade Your Ender 3 Nozzle?

A nozzle in an Ender 3 could remain in good shape for years if it is only ever used with (let’s say) PLA and isn’t mistakenly grounded on the build plate. However, one grounding could (but is not certain to) damage the exit hole, leaving you with a weak print. Upgrading your 3D printer’s nozzle is a simple process.

All you need to do is detach the fan, heat up the hot end, remove the nozzle while grabbing the heater block, then attach the new nozzle while heating up the hot end again. If this sounds confusing, don’t worry; we will go into the details below.

Keep reading to learn more!

How to Upgrade Your Ender 3 Nozzle

Although the printer usually comes with a few of the supplies you need to replace the nozzle, you might need a few more. Fortunately, we usually have these at home.

Here are the things you’ll need:

  1. Crescent pliers or channel locks (in case these are not available, normal plies will do, given that  they are large enough)
  2. Combination wrench (the ones included with the Ender 3 may be used as well)
  3. Allen keys (again, you can use the ones included with the Ender 3)

Detach Fan Shroud

You must detach the fan shroud in order to get to the nozzle. Though you might still be able to unscrew the nozzle without doing so, doing so is considerably easier and you won’t run the risk of breaking anything.

  • Remove the two bolts holding the fan shroud to the printer head with the Allen keys.
  • Detach the Silicon sock by hand (no additional tools required).

Heat Up Hot End

The heater block, heat break, and nozzle all considerably expand during heating, allowing you to remove the threads, which is why you must heat up the hot end prior to removing the nozzle every time.

If you avoid doing this, you risk breaking the heater block or nozzle altogether.

  • Go to “Control” -> “Temperature” -> “Nozzle” and change the temperature there.
  • Let it reach the ideal temperature (200°C/392°F should be more than enough).

Detach Nozzle

After the hot end has had time to heat up, you can grab the heater block to prevent it from turning and breaking when you remove the nozzle using the channel locks, crescent pliers, or, if any of these are not available, standard pliers (given that they are big enough).

  • Use one hand to maintain a tight hold on the heater block, and the other to grasp the nozzle with the small open-end wrench that came with the printer and turn it clockwise.

It’s important to remember that turning it counterclockwise will just tighten it further and risk damaging the heater block or the nozzle.

  • Use pliers to detach the nozzle completely. This prevents it from tumbling to the floor. Once the nozzle is completely detached, take care not to contact it with your bare hands since it should be quite hot.
  • Last but not least, we advise cooling the old hot end down before replacing it. Just remember not to tighten it all the way!

Related: Are 3D Printer Nozzles Universal?

Screw In Nozzle

You’ll find that the new nozzle won’t be as simple to screw in since the threads haven’t expanded because everything has had time to cool off. However, this comes in our favor because it lets us attach the nozzle manually, which is much simpler than using pliers or a wrench.

  • Make sure the hot end has cooled off.
  • Until you’re able to insert the new nozzle with a wrench, manually screw it.
  • Use the wrench to screw in the nozzle until you can feel it tightening but be careful not to overtighten it because it could break.

You are not supposed to tighten it all the way through because the hot end needs to be heated once again.

Heat Up Hot End Again

The hot end should be heated using the same procedure as in step 2 (“Control,” then “Temperature,” select “Nozzle,” and adjust the temperature”), and then left to attain the required temperature (ideally 200°C or 250°C/392 or 482°F, depending on the filament).

  • In order to prevent anything from breaking, make sure not to tighten the nozzle all the way through before the hot end is heated.
  • After the hot end is heated, fully screw in the nozzle with the included wrench.
  • Finally, avoid overtightening it. You may loosen it a bit if you feel like you went too far.

How Often Should You Change the 3D Printer Nozzle?

Throughout a 3D printer’s lifetime, nozzles are used, damaged, and upgraded numerous times. The question is, how frequently should the 3D printer nozzle be changed?

After some consideration, we made the decision to look for the best answer and share it with you.

Generally, there is no fixed period of time for upgrading or replacing your nozzle. How often you use your 3D printer, the kind of materials you use, and the caliber of your nozzle all have a big impact on how long the nozzle lasts.

It is also recommended to replace the nozzle when switching the type of filament used. For example, you may wish to switch from PLA to ABS or TPU. Even though you could remove the nozzle and clean it, it’s much better to just replace it with a new one. Of course, should you want to use the original filament, you can switch back and re-fit the previous nozzle (it may also help to label it!)

Some people also recommend changing the nozzle every 3 months, irrespective of whether the print quality is declining. This is because nozzles suffer damage from normal wear and tear too.

Nozzles are inexpensive. Although there are superior ones available, it’s better to choose to stay with the inexpensive and disposable nozzles. The best, least expensive (in terms of time and fewer print failures), and most effective solution is to replace the nozzle if you suspect that your print quality is being affected by some nozzle-related issue.

Keep in mind, though, that compared to a cheap brass nozzle made in China, a high-quality, expensive nozzle designed for lengthy printing is far more likely to last you more printing hours. 

Harmful Nozzle Practices

Although nozzles wear out with regular use as well, there are some practices that certainly speed up the process. Using abrasive filaments and harsh techniques for unclogging the nozzle are the two most common practices that harm the nozzle.

Abrasive filaments

Some filaments can damage standard nozzles. In order to enhance their mechanical properties, “composites” or filaments that have been combined with fibers are used. Some of them are as follows:

  • Carbon fiber
  • Fiberglass
  • Nylon
  • Filaments filled with metal
  • Luminescent filaments

When using these filaments, use more durable nozzles composed of hardened steel, ruby, tungsten, or stainless steel. Compared to the standard brass ones, they are far better equipped to handle the abrasiveness of these filaments.

Related: Ender 3 Belt Tension Guide

Harsh Techniques for Unclogging Nozzles

While regularly clearing your nozzle might benefit both it and the quality of the prints you produce, it can also wear out your nozzle, especially if you do it aggressively and harshly. You must be cautious when cleaning it, using delicate techniques and supplies. 

How to Unclog a Nozzle?

Sometimes, replacing the nozzle may be unnecessary and all you really need to do is unclog or clean it. Cleaning it regularly can also delay the need for it to be replaced.

Molten filament may stick to the nozzle as well as the heat block; and as a result, the print may become stuck to the nozzle and be torn away from the build surface as it is moving.

When printing with PLA or ABS, this problem isn’t very frequent, but PETG, for instance, has a different consistency when it is melted and tends to stick to the nozzle and heat block much more frequently, resulting in a filament blob over time that can cause the print to break away from the build surface.

Although we’ve demonstrated how to do this on an Ender 3, you may absolutely use the same procedures for any other printer since they are essentially the same.

Using a .4 mm Needle

The needle needed to clear the nozzle is included with every printer, but if yours doesn’t, you can purchase one separately.

  • Raise the printer’s temperature to the melting point of the filament (230°C/446°F for PETG and ABS, 200°C/392°F for PLA, etc.).
  • Push the filament upwards with the needle and then draw it out (repeat multiple time
  • To see if the filament is flowing properly, extrude some of it
  • If required, repeat the procedure.

This should generally resolve the problem because forcing the blockage upwards will cause it to dissolve. Additionally, pressing any debris that is clogging the nozzle may split it into smaller fragments that can be extruded with filament through the nozzle’s entrance.

Atomic/Cold Pull

A cold pull is exactly what it sounds like: You draw the filament out of the printer without heating the nozzle enough, which causes the slightly hardened filament to drag whatever obstruction is in the nozzle with it.

Follow the steps below to perform an atomic/cold pull:

  • Heat the nozzle up to 220°C/428°F (if you just printed with PLA)
  • Add a bit of ABS, nylon, or another sturdy filament with good thermal resistance that has a light color.
  • Push it as hard as you can by hand.
  • Confirm whether the filament is passing through the nozzle (if the obstruction is present, it may not expel anything).
  • For PLA, allow the printer to cool to around 90°C/194°F, and for ABS, to about 160°C/320°F. Maintain pressure while cooling.

The majority of the particles and debris that may have gotten into the nozzle can be removed using this method, something you could not have been able to do with the needle technique.

Just be careful not to harm the printer when removing the filament, as you might need to exert a little more force than usual to get it out.

Related: 3D Printer Filament Keeps Snapping? Here’s What To Do

Cleaning Filaments

There are a few filament companies that offer nozzle cleaning filaments which are surprisingly effective.

Just insert it into your printer as you would any ordinary filament. It is advised to detach the Bowden tube first and manually insert the filament into the hot end if your printer has a Bowden system.

  • Pre-heat the nozzle to the cleaning filament’s recommended temperature (about 230°C/446°F).
  • Insert the filament entirely until a small amount emerges from the nozzle. Once this happens, allow the filament to remain there for a few minutes.
  • Insert a bit more material into the nozzle after five minutes have gone, then wait again.
  • Repetition of this procedure is required.
  • Put ordinary filament in the printer after removing the cleaning filament.
  • Check to see if the filament is being extruded correctly.

We advise anyone who simply wishes to allow the printer to clean the nozzle on its own and who really doesn’t wish to go through the trouble of doing a few cold pulls or inserting a .4mm needle into the nozzle to try this method because it works remarkably well.

Remove Nozzle

All of the above methods for unclogging the nozzle are used while the nozzle is still attached to the printer. However, sometimes it may not be enough to clean the nozzle while it is still attached. You might need to remove the nozzle using the instructions mentioned previously in the article. To recap:

  • Go to “Control” -> “Temperature” -> “Nozzle” and change the temperature there.
  • Let it reach the ideal temperature (200°C/392°F should be more than enough)
  • Use one hand to maintain a tight hold on the heater block, and the other to grasp the nozzle with the small open-end wrench that came with the printer and turn it clockwise.
  • Note: It’s important to remember that turning it counterclockwise will just tighten it further and risk damaging the heating block or the nozzle.
  • Use pliers to detach the final portion of the nozzle to prevent it from tumbling to the floor. Once the nozzle is completely detached, don’t touch it with your bare hands since it should be quite hot.

Last but not least, we advise cooling the old hot end down before replacing it. Just remember not to tighten it all the way!

Once you have removed the nozzle, you may clean the debris either manually or by using some solvents.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a 3d Printer Nozzle?

The part of a 3D printer that feeds the molten material into the build area is called the nozzle.

Can a dirty nozzle cause stringing?

Yes, a clogged nozzle is a typical cause of 3D printer stringing. To guarantee that the hotend runs without a hitch, material passing through the FDM printer nozzle occasionally leaves behind residue that needs to be frequently cleaned off.

How Does the Nozzle Affect Prints?

The print quality, printing speed, and even print strength are all influenced by the nozzle.

Final Words

That’s it. In this article, we discussed how to upgrade your Ender 3’s nozzle using a detailed step-by-step guide. We also discussed some of the practices that wear out the nozzle more easily and how to regularly clean your nozzle, so it doesn’t need to be replaced so often. Happy printing!

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