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I was working on what should have been a simple nozzle clog, and due to my own clumsy handling it looks like I'll now need a completely new nozzle for my 8 month old printer. Fortunately they're not too expensive: $10 for a replacement direct from the vendor. Unfortunately, the vendor is out of stock.

So now I'm looking at alternatives. I believe I could get a 5-pack for $6. Wow. But I wonder: what's the quality gonna be like on those nozzles. Really... that's the question of the moment: what can I look for to be sure I'm not buying junk? Even if they are junk, at 1.20 each does it matter, or is the risk to more than the nozzle itself?

Also, while I'm here and since I'm gonna have to spend some money, what options can I look for in this area that could provide a meaningful upgrade for my printer? Is the cleaning kit worth the extra 5 bucks? What about brass vs copper vs hardened steel? If I only ever print PLA, is the all-metal hot-end for $10 worth the trouble?

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't see you mention ... what is the make/model of your printer? Sure help us to know. $\endgroup$ – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Mar 29 '19 at 20:55
  • $\begingroup$ It's a Monoprice Maker Select Plus... but as one of the original launch users for Stack Overflow, I share the platform's aversion to shopping questions. It's a fine line to have this not be a shopping recommendation. I want it more of a "How do I know what to look for?" question than "What should I buy?" question. $\endgroup$ – Joel Coehoorn Mar 29 '19 at 21:12
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    $\begingroup$ I think for all of the Stacks (except a fine few), shopping questions are fairly verboten. However, it's always good to know what you're working with, otherwise it could be considered too broad. Thanks for letting us know. $\endgroup$ – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Mar 29 '19 at 21:33
  • $\begingroup$ Get cleaning filament. You can clear a clogged nozzle of any size. $\endgroup$ – user77232 Mar 30 '19 at 3:46
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With regards to the nozzle material, it boils down to two factors: thermal conductivity and wear resistance. Brass and copper are better at conducting heat, but they have very low wear resistance: use them with abrasive filaments (PLA infused with metal, fiber glass or carbon fiber, as an example) and they won't last a roll. On the other end steel is not a good thermal conductor, and hardened steel is even worse, meaning the filament will get colder within the nozzle, possibly requiring a slower extrusion speed or a higher temperature, but they are quite resistant to wear. There are other options, like the famous ruby nozzle, which is very wear resistant and, being made mostly of brass, provides a good thermal conductivity, but it's expensive.

Another factor is the shape of the nozzle: some have a very short tip, others a longer one and that also influences the thermal conductivity and the flow rate, but also take into consideration the long ones don't play very nice with very sticky filaments like PETG.

It is a matter of compromise between material, price and versatility, I don't think there is a single best choice.

Usually very cheap nozzles are not machined very accurately, meaning the hole might not be perfectly round or centered, but unless you require a high level of precision they can be considered "good enough": don't get me wrong, I'm not saying those are low importance factors, but you probably won't notice a great difference unless you are using very good filament and printing at high-res.

It will be very difficult for you to damage your printer using a non high quality nozzle, but replacing the nozzle incorrectly (no matter the nozzle quality) can cause damage to the heat block: try not to snap the nozzle thread like I did...

UPDATE

As pointed out in the comments, there are a couple of factors you might have to take into consideration when buying new nozzles: the nozzle body length (there are nozzles with a much longer threaded body, usually referenced as volcano) and nozzles with different thread sizes (M6 for the vast majority, some use M7, very few use a customized system).

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  • $\begingroup$ uncentered hole is not a problem, all drill bits makes rouded and shaped holes, the tip size is according to your heating block; Also the thread size is according to this part; mostly are M6 but some newer printers has M7 or bigger. $\endgroup$ – Fernando Baltazar Apr 3 '19 at 7:10
  • $\begingroup$ @FernandoBaltazar Not true: an uncentered hole, other than shifting your print on the bed of a miniscule amount, creates an uneven plastic flow out of the nozzle which, if exaggerated, can cause visible artifacts, in particular on the external perimeters, where we tend to extrude slow. An oval shaped hole is worse: it introduces dimensional errors which cannot be corrected as one direction will experience a larger extrusion than the other. $\endgroup$ – Roberto Lo Giacco Apr 3 '19 at 8:03
  • $\begingroup$ Right, with oval holes but I haven't seen any as you describe; I've have sold more than 100 nozzles and I'm using them on my printers. an uncentered hole never changes it's position while printing, so shiftting is only the starting point but the piece will be the same. you will never chage the nozzle in middle of the printing, so that shift will never occur. $\endgroup$ – Fernando Baltazar Apr 3 '19 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ Well, you are not considering multiple extruders, but also the flow will be uneven: an hole more toward one side of the channel will experience a pressure difference which also tends to bend the extruded filament toward the same side. I would agree though 95% of the time that will still be unnoticeable on most prints. $\endgroup$ – Roberto Lo Giacco Apr 3 '19 at 19:36

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