Many users cannot decide which nozzle is best between the 0.4mm and 0.6mm nozzle. The debate of which is best between these two nozzles has always been a hot topic and will likely continue to be one. I wrote this article to compare which one is best for you.
For models that require a certain amount of detail, a 0.4mm is preferable. If you prefer speed over the details on your model, then the larger 0.6mm is for you. Most functional parts require little detail, so a 0.6mm is usually a better idea to reduce print times. Calibrate print temperature after changing nozzles.
This is the basic answer, but to learn which nozzle is best for you, keep reading for more details.
0.4mm Vs. 0.6mm Nozzle Comparison
An aspect to consider when comparing the 0.4mm with the 0.6mm nozzle is the quality of details on the print.
The diameter of the nozzle affects the horizontal surface (X-axis) detail of an object, like lettering on the model, and the layer height affects the details on the slanted or vertical sides of an object.
A 0.4mm nozzle can print a layer height as low as 0.08mm, which means better details when compared to a 0.6mm nozzle that will struggle at the same layer height. A smaller nozzle diameter also means printing out greater detail when compared to a larger nozzle diameter.
The general rule is your layer height can be 20-80% of the nozzle diameter, so a 0.6mm nozzle could reach around a 0.12-0.48mm layer height.
Check out my article 13 Ways How to Improve 3D Print Quality with Ease + Bonuses.
One user who primarily uses a 0.6mm nozzle to print swatches and signs said he had to switch to his 0.4mm nozzle to print these details because he couldn’t afford to lose the fine detail on the print. He said it’s best to have both on hand.
While print quality is important, it’s only relevant when you have to worry about fine details. Users who print functional parts can rarely tell the difference between the 0.4mm and 0.6mm nozzle sizes.
An example is printing a part for your 3D printer or an object to use around your house or car. These parts don’t need fine detail, and a 0.6mm will do that job faster.
One user said he uses 0.6mm when printing functional parts because there is no noticeable drop in quality.
Another aspect to consider when comparing the 0.4mm with the 0.6mm nozzle is print time. Print speed in 3D printing is as important as print quality to many users. The size of the nozzle is one of the many factors that can reduce the print time of a model.
A bigger nozzle equals more extrusion, taller layer height, thicker walls, and fewer perimeters, leading to reduced time. These factors contribute to a 3D printer’s print time.
Check out my article called How to Estimate the 3D Printing Time of an STL File.
A general rule of thumb on extrusion width is increasing it by 100-120 percent of your nozzle diameter. This means a 0.6mm nozzle can have an extrusion width between 0.6mm-0.72mm while a 0.4mm nozzle has an extrusion width between 0.4mm-0.48mm.
There are cases where this isn’t the norm, as some users can print beyond the recommended 120% of their nozzle diameter and get satisfactory results.
A bigger nozzle also means more room to increase the layer height. As mentioned before, a 0.6mm nozzle can do a 0.12mm-0.48mm layer height, while a 0.4mm nozzle can do a 0.08mm-0.32mm layer height.
A bigger layer height means less print time. Again, this rule isn’t set in stone, but most accept it as the norm for getting the best from your nozzle.
One user commented on how a 0.4mm nozzle can give a user a range of 0.24mm on layer height, which is the difference between 0.08mm and 0.32mm. A 0.6mm on the other hand gives a range of 0.36mm in layer height, which is the difference between 0.12mm and 0.48mm.
A larger nozzle means that your 3D printer will have to lay fewer perimeters/walls, which saves print time. When a 0.4mm nozzle spreads 3 perimeters because of its smaller diameter, a 0.6mm nozzle only needs 2.
A 0.6mm nozzle will print wider perimeters, meaning it will have to make fewer rounds when compared to the 0.4mm nozzle. The exception is if a user uses the vase mode, which uses one perimeter when printing.
The combination of these factors contributes to the print time of your 3D printer. If you try to 3D print fast with any of these not taken into account, it can cause a clogged nozzle. The 0.4mm nozzle clogs faster compared to the 0.6mm because of its smaller diameter.
A user who changed from his 0.4mm to a 0.6mm nozzle saw a difference in the time he took to print 29 interlocking parts. Under his 0.4mm, it would have taken 22 days to print all, but with his 0.6mm nozzle, it went down to about 15 days.
One aspect to consider when comparing the 0.4mm with the 0.6mm nozzle is the quantity of filament it uses. Naturally, a larger nozzle will use up more material while printing.
A larger nozzle can extrude more materials and thicker lines when compared to a smaller one. In other words, a 0.6mm nozzle will extrude thicker lines and more material than a 0.4mm nozzle.
As with all things 3D printing, there are some exceptions. Some settings can lead to a 0.6mm nozzle using up the same or fewer materials.
One method used to reduce the material used when printing with a 0.6mm nozzle is by reducing the number of the perimeter the printer lays. Since the 0.6mm produces thicker lines, it can use fewer perimeters while maintaining its strength and shape if you compare it to the 0.4mm.
This was the case when a user sliced a model with a 0.4mm nozzle and a 0.6mm nozzle, where both showed the print would use a similar about of material to print, which was 212g.
There is also the type of material being used to consider. Certain materials used as filaments, such as wood PLA or carbon fiber, can cause clogging for smaller diameter nozzles.
One user found out his 0.4mm nozzle struggled with specialized filament like wood/sparkle/metal but noticed once he switched to the bigger 0.6mm, he didn’t have these same problems again.
Another aspect to consider when comparing the 0.4mm with the 0.6mm nozzle is the print strength. Thicker lines should lead to stronger parts or models.
The 0.6mm nozzle can print thicker lines for infill and higher layer height, which contributes to its strength without costing you speed. If you were to print the same parts with a 0.4mm, you could have a decent print but cost double the time to finish.
Strength is also determined by how hot the plastic comes out and how fast it cools off. A larger nozzle needs a hotter temperature because the hotend is melting and feeding plastic much faster when compared to when using a smaller nozzle.
I’d recommend doing a temperature tower to calibrate your printing temperature after changing to the 0.6mm nozzle.
You can follow this video by Slice Print Roleplay to do this directly in Cura.
One user commented on how much more durable vase mode prints by using a 0.6mm nozzle. He did this with the nozzle size between 150-200%.
Another user said he gets the required strength on his 0.5mm nozzle by using 140% of his nozzle diameter and putting his infill at 100%.
Another feature to consider when comparing a 0.4mm with a 0.6mm nozzle is support. The wider diameter of 0.6mm nozzle means it will print thicker layers, which include the layers for support.
The thicker layers mean supports can be harder to remove when using a 0.6mm when compared to the 0.4mm nozzle.
A user with a 0.4mm and 0.6mm nozzle on two different printers commented on how it’s a nightmare to remove supports on his 0.6mm prints compared to his 0.4mm prints.
You can always adjust your support settings to account for the change in nozzle size to make them easier to remove.
Check out my article, How to Remove 3D Print Supports Like a Pro.
Pros and Cons of a 0.4mm Nozzle
- A good choice if printing for detail on models or lettering
- More likely to become clogged compared to 0.6mm nozzle, but not common.
- Slower print time compared to 0.6mm nozzle
Pros and Cons of a 0.6mm Nozzle
- More durable prints
- Best for functional prints with less detail
- Lower risks of a clogged nozzle
- Prints fast compared to 0.4mm
- Supports can be difficult to remove if settings aren’t adjusted
- Bad choice if you are looking for details like texts or models
- Needs a higher hotend temperature to print compared to 0.4mm
Which Nozzle is Better?
The answer to this question depends on what the user wants to print and their preference. Some users explore an option where they use a 0.6mm G-Code setting on a 0.4mm nozzle and have seen success.
One user who uses 0.4mm to print commented about using a 0.6mm print setting for years. He just got a 0.6mm nozzle and said he would use a 0.8mm print G-Code to print with it.
Another user said he uses a 0.4mm nozzle on a 0.6mm setting in Cura. He said it’s great for geometric prints and vases.
Check out this video by Thomas Salanderer, who compared prints of a 0.4mm nozzle printing with 0.6mm g-code settings.