Are Expensive Nozzles OVERRATED?

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Introduction: Are Expensive Nozzles OVERRATED?

About: Hey, I am Gerard and I make great visually presented, in-depth but concise 3D printing-related videos of testing, mods, and projects.

Those nozzles in the first picture look the same quality-wise. Only when we look closer, we can see the obvious difference (2nd photo). The “Mellow” brand V6 nozzle that costs around 10 times more looks way smoother and is very precisely made when compared to the cheap one. But that probably is no surprise for anyone, the only question is can you see the increase in quality in your prints? Well, this is what we going to test and find out.

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USED ITEMS IN THE VIDEO:

Step 1: TEST SETUP

So, first of all, I created a few basic test parts. What I like about the simple shapes is that they show any irregularities in the prints really well. But I will also include the little Cali-dragon print ( https://www.printables.com/model/209121-cali-dragon ) to test how different nozzles recreate all the small details.

All settings for every print will be identical. For the material, I am using metallic-blue color PLA that has a diameter tolerance of 0.03mm.

Step 2: Sharp Object Prints

And now the results. All pictures were taken with the most light coming from above to expose the irregular layers the most.

First, the sharp object prints, and I don’t know, I would say the expensive nozzle has slightly more consistent lines. But looking from the other side, the lines look better on the cheap one. It’s a tough call to make and say which one looks better overall.

Step 3: Round Object Prints

Next, the round object prints, and they again look very similar. The only thing that stands out is the lump around the outside where the inside top layer ends. The seams look equally bad on both of them, so again, there isn’t much difference.

Step 4: Cali-Dragon Prints

Finally, the dragon print. And this is where, at least for me, the print looks smoother with the cheaper nozzle. The front is smoother, the sides are smoother, and only the tail is slightly off.

Step 5: Lower Thermal Conductivity

But when I looked closer I noticed that prints with the cheaper nozzle had less shine. That means that the expensive nozzle transferred heat better, despite running the same file with all same settings.

Step 6: 200C VS 207C

So, I changed the temperature in the GCODE file to 207C and reprinted it just to check if it will change anything. And there it is, now it shines on par with the expensive nozzle and still looks equally good.

Step 7: Sanity Check

So far results are quite surprising, so for the sanity check, I reprinted some files with an already used expensive “Trianglelab” V6 nozzle which had a perfectly round hole. And… yeah… again basically no difference whatsoever…

But maybe a smoother tip will result in better top layers??? Nope. They all look more or less the same.

Step 8: How Bad Can Nozzle Be?

So that gave me an idea, of how bad the nozzle must be before we start seeing a noticeable difference. To do that I took the nozzle that had a lot of mileage, sanded the bottom from the burned PETG plastic, and just drilled into it with a tiny drill bit.

Step 9: Ok...

Surely this will make the print look horrible right? Well again… NOPE… It looks just a tiny bit worse, and these are close-up shots, if we look in a more evenly lit environment and from a realistic distance it is almost impossible to spot any difference.

Step 10: One Step Further

The only question then – is how far we can go. This time I absolutely destroyed the nozzle, it is extremely rough and the filament just curls upwards. But, this time instead of easy-to-print PLA, I will be using PETG as it sticks to the nozzle like crazy. That combined with an uneven surface will give the worst-case scenario of irregular lines and unwanted blobs in the print.

Step 11: Destroyed Nozzle PETG Results

And did it do the trick????? …Look at this point I don’t know what to say. Yeah, it looks worse, there is more stringing, some bad-looking overhangs, and definitions don’t pop out that much and look more flat. But if you would say this was printed with such a badly damaged nozzle, I would say it’s a straight lie.

Again, looking at these in not specifically created conditions to expose the problems and with strings removed, it is mind-blowing how similar they look and the drastic difference in nozzles.

Step 12: Two Steps Further

But can we push even further? Oh yes, we can! Behold! The abomination V2 with a teardrop-looking hole and deep scratches!

This time I will go back to PLA just to have a comparison with all other prints, well if it prints at all. And the start was rough – poor first layer adhesion that ultimately led to failed print. But luckily the second one finished successfully and we can make a comparison.

Step 13: Kinda Mind-blowing

The first thing that catches the eye is the overhangs, they look way worse when compared to the expensive nozzle. Also, there is a more noticeable loss of detail and the dragon skin part is smoothed out even more now.

But it is still hard to believe how bad your nozzle must be before you start seeing all these problems. So, in summary, does this mean that expensive nozzles are overrated? Well, yes and no.

Like tests showed cheap nozzles can have lower thermal conductivity due to lower-grade brass and less precise machining tolerances. And that will affect the max speed at which you can print and the longevity of the nozzle.

The key point to take away from this is that you shouldn’t expect that expensive nozzle to be like a miracle and make your prints magically better. As you saw we basically got identical results, despite the insane 10-time cost.

Step 14: New Microscope = More Quality Photos and Videos for the Future!

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    2 Comments

    1
    TheFlorifant
    TheFlorifant

    24 days ago

    A beautifull and inlightening read!

    2
    PeterTheUnGreat
    PeterTheUnGreat

    4 weeks ago

    Thanks, that was a really instructive look at the difference in the nozzles.