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Choosing The Right Nozzle For Your Layer Height With 3D Printing

Updated: Jan 27, 2022

Layer height comparison of 3d print
0.2mm Layer Height (Left) vs 0.9mm Layer Height (Right)

Often in 3D printing, you will need to change your layer height or your nozzle size to either increase detail or reduce print time. Fortunately, our gMax printers allow you to easily change the nozzle size (for more information on how to change your nozzle in a gMax printer, visit However, what is often overlooked is the correlation between the nozzle size and the appropriate layer height to achieve the best results.

Lets start off by explaining the relationship between layer height, nozzle size, and print time.


Nozzle Size vs. Layer Height

Fig. 1.3: Tower Building (1"x1"x2.25")

A finer nozzle size will give you a very high-quality print with amazing detail. However, by using a finer nozzle size, you will greatly increase your print time.

For example, Fig 1.3 shows a detailed skyscraper on a gMax 2 using a 0.2mm nozzle size and 0.1mm layer height.

As you can see, it will look amazing and it will capture most details like the windows, but by using these settings, the print time could be as long as 4 hours for a model 1"x1"x2.25" in size.

Printing the same model with a 0.5mm nozzle and a 0.2mm layer height on the same printer would lower the print time to just over 1 hour depending on your speeds.

Printing a model with a very fine nozzle size will give you great results for small models with fine details and a fine layer height. You will sacrifice print time but get finer details in return.

Something to note is that by using small nozzles for large models, will provide you a very high-resolution print but this might take several days and in some cases more than a week to finish.

3D Printed twisted vase
Fig. 1.4: Twisted bin printed with 1.0mm nozzle

On the other end of the spectrum Fig 1.4 shows a much larger 3D printed twisted bin with the dimensions of 9.5" x 9.5" x 13".

It was printed using 1.0mm nozzle at a 0.4mm layer height. The print took just around 12 hours when printed in spiral vase mode.

However, printing the same bin with a 0.5mm nozzle at 0.2mm layer height could take over 1.5 days depending on the speed and other settings. In this case, since printing this bin consists of smooth movements, does not have significant detail, and has mostly vertical outer perimeters using a larger nozzle size with thicker layers (0.8mm or larger nozzle) would be the better option.


Minimum and Maximum Layer Height for Your Nozzle Size

Something very important to know is the range of layer heights you can use for each nozzle size. Certain nozzles may result in poor quality if you use a layer height outside of the recommended range (See below). For example, using a 1.0mm nozzle with 0.1mm layer thickness might actually result in a poor finish since too little of filament is extruding out of such a large opening with no back pressure. Additionally, using a tiny nozzle for thick layers may not even print at all since the presser is greater than the extruder can handle.

If you are looking to obtain the best results according to your nozzle size, we recommend the following ranges for each nozzle:

Fig. 1.5: Brass Nozzles

0.3mm nozzle:

  • Lowest layer height: 0.1mm

  • Highest layer height: 0.2mm

0.4mm nozzle:

  • Lowest layer height: 0.15mm

  • Highest layer height: 0.3mm

0.5mm nozzle:

  • Lowest layer height: 0.2mm

  • Highest layer height: 0.4mm

Fig. 1.6: Brass Nozzles

0.8mm nozzle:

  • Lowest layer height: 0.4mm

  • Highest layer height: 0.6mm

1.0mm nozzle:

  • Lowest layer height: 0.5mm

  • Highest layer height: 0.75mm

1.2mm nozzle:

  • Lowest layer height: 0.5mm

  • Highest layer height: 0.9mm


Practical Test

We have obtained the following information based on a series of prints of our popular twisted ripple vase (3.5" x 3.5" x 5") using the set of ranges previously mentioned for each different nozzle on a gMax printer. The print was sliced in PrusaSlicer using spiral vase mode (no infill) and printed out of Blue Push PLA with no heated bed.

You can download the vase from Cults 3D:

At first glance, we can see that the print time has been affected the most. As we use a finer layer height, the print time will increase substantially. Printing the same model with a wider nozzle size will cut the print time extensively.

However, as it might seem appealing to use the biggest nozzle with the highest layer height to save time, there is another component affected which is the quality. Typically, the higher the layer height, the lower the quality of your print; and vice versa, the lower the layer height, the higher quality of your print.


Settings that will need to be changed according to the nozzle size

  • Temperature: with different nozzle sizes, the temperature will need to be adjusted. This is due to the amount of plastic that it is being extruded by the nozzle. The larger the amount of material extruded, the higher the temperature you will need. Regular PLA is usually printed at 200°C with a standard nozzle (0.4mm nozzle). However, for a 1.0mm nozzle, we have set the temperature to 225°C-235°C since more material is being extruded faster.

  • Perimeters: for bigger nozzles, you will not need as many perimeters as you would need with a 0.4mm nozzle to achieve the same strength. However, a minimum of at least 2 perimeters is recommended.

  • Speed: as you increase the nozzle size, you will need to lower your speeds. This will give more time for the material to heat up which will result in better adhesion between layers and prevent gapping between them.

  • Cooling: when printing with higher temperatures, you will want to make sure that you have good cooling to prevent any curling from happening.

In conclusion, while printing, make sure to select the appropriate nozzle for your layer height and desired outcome.

If you are looking for a high quality print and time is not an issue, you could opt to use a smaller nozzle with a finer layer height. However, if time and strength are factors and quality is not too important, you could choose to use a wider nozzle with thicker layers to decrease print time and increase strength.

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