A lot of consumer desktop FDM printers come with a 0.4 mm nozzle. I'm looking to print fine details objects and I was considering trying to use a smaller size nozzle. But before I do so I would like to establish a list of downsides and unwanted consequences.
Here are some things to look out for when switching to a smaller nozzle size:
- Curling (out of the nozzle): Make sure the nozzle is clear of any debris to avoid the extruded filament from catching and therefore curling around the nozzle.
- Warping: You might experience more warping on the build plate and delamination between layers as a result of the smaller surface area of the layers.
- Reduce speeds: You should reduce your print speeds anyways when printing fine-detail objects. However, the smaller nozzle size will need a bit more time to adhere to other objects (see above).
- Standoff distance: The distance between the nozzle and build plate, a.k.a standoff, should be a bit smaller with the nozzle size. Typically people use the paper reference (using a piece of paper to "calibrate" the standoff), which is about 0.004".
- Make sure your slicing engine knows the change! Most slicing software will allow you to adjust the nozzle size. This can also be used to fine-tune your machine.
- Beware of clogging: Clogging is usually a result of poor cooling between your heater block and your drive gear, poor filament quality, and/or incorrect extrusion rates. You might want to perform a benchmark print with the new nozzle to "rediscover" which temperatures work best with the new "basin" volume in the nozzle.
I'm sure there are many others, but this should help get you started.
2$\begingroup$ With regards to clogging: a small particle that might harmlessly pass through a 0.4mm nozzle might very well clog a 0.25mm one. $\endgroup$ Oct 24, 2016 at 22:10
$\begingroup$ Thank you. I have marked this as the correct answer but other people should feel free to add to the list. $\endgroup$ Oct 24, 2016 at 22:33
In addition to the answer of tbm0115; special care has to be given to the strength and stiffness of the model. Lines are thinner and thus when using the same amount of walls and infill percentage, the walls will be less stiff. This requires a higher percentage of infill or more walls to counteract this phenomenon. Obviously, this will cause the print to take longer.