Improving 3D-printing speed while achieving high levels of detail is what many design engineers strive for. But did you know that both a print’s speed and detail largely depend on the type and size of nozzle you choose? As our Ultimate Guide shows, the different nozzle sizes available are an important consideration, as is the ability to easily switch between them.

On many Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) 3D printers, changing the nozzle size is a fast way to increase the print speed. A large diameter, 0.8mm-nozzle will print far faster than a 0.3mm one; the downside is that definition will generally be lower in detailed areas of the print. Many 3D printers come equipped with a 0.4mm nozzle, which strikes a balance between speed and detail. But the best of both worlds is a 3D printer head that suits two different size nozzles, one example being CEL’s QuickFill head.


QuickFill takes a different approach to most printer heads when it comes to speed and definition. A 0.3mm nozzle is used to lay down the exterior walls of a print giving it a high-detail look. The print might look good, but printing at this nozzle size for the entire print tends to be slow. CEL’s technology tackles this issue by fitting one head with two nozzles. An ingenious rotating mechanism switches between nozzles and lifts the unused one away from the print. The award-winning AutoMaker software allows a print profile to be created and switch between a 0.3mm for the outer walls (perimeters) and 0.8mm for the unseen internal fill (infill), which dramatically increases print speed for highly-detailed parts.

But speed isn’t just about how quickly you can print. The time it takes to replace a nozzle is an important consideration too. If it is part of a swappable print head system, then you’ll just have to replace the whole head, which is much quicker and simpler than replacing nozzles individually. CEL’s HeadLock system, for example, can be replaced without tools. Another key benefit is that all components within the head come already calibrated. Any fine adjustments you make are also saved in a chip on the head. Both printer and software get automatically updated and downtime is reduced to a minimum.

Image Source: Prusa Help – Rather than fix the problem, Prusa recommend you just clean it up afterwards.

Stringing is another common issue associated with nozzles, which can cause unnecessary downtime slowing down the overall print time. It can cause flaws on prints and problems when printing towers and small features. Material build up on nozzles can even knock an entire print off the print surface causing the print to fail and damaging the hardware.

Luckily, technologies such as the needle-valve flow control on Dual Material print heads can help you solve this issue. The valve prevents the unused nozzle from leaking material so wipe towers or ooze shields are not required.

When it comes to print speed, there are several factors to take into account. Firstly, the nozzle size, the larger the better for speed, and then: does the head feature material flow control technologies such as needle valves? These reduce the time the head takes to travel from one area to another vastly reducing retraction times.

To learn more about how to select the FFF printer that best suits your business needs download The Ultimate Design Engineer’s Guide to Comparing and Choosing 3D Printers here.