Is Your 3D Printer Nozzle Worn Out? Sign, Impact, Causes & How To Clean It

There is a vast range of ways you can use to check if your 3D printer nozzle is worn out. Some of these options aren’t 100 percent accurate, however, what is key is that you spot and master the signs. Here are the two options:

  • By visually checking the nozzle

This is the most recommended step of checking if your 3D printer nozzle is worn out. Observe the distinctive differences between when your 3D printer nozzle was operating well and how it has changed now.  The diameter size is the key difference you will be checking on.

If you realize that your 3D printer nozzle diameter has increased, then this is enough sign that your printer nozzle is wearing out and may not be producing quality 3D prints as expected. Occasionally you may not be in a position to visually notice this difference, however, you can carry out a quick test to conclude on this.

Check your printer nozzle using a set of tiny drill bits by trying to fit a larger-sized bit into the nozzle hole. For instance, if your 3D printer nozzle diameter is 0.4 mm and a 0.5 mm diameter drill bit fits in, then this is enough evidence to make you conclude that your printer nozzle has worn out.

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  • Checking for marks, ridges, bumps, and or grooves on your 3D printer nozzle

This method works well, especially if you can notice the deterioration of your nozzle material. In most cases, the printer nozzle will be worn out from the inside part instead of showing these signs at the tip. Therefore, it is important that you keenly check the inner part of the printer nozzle occasionally to check for any tear and wear. 

It is important to note that a worn-out printer nozzle will not prevent you from printing successfully. However, the quality of the prints will be compromised. 3D printer nozzles have a big impact on your 3D print quality.

Now that you know how to tell when a nozzle is worn out, let us answer more questions that surround the 3D printer nozzle.

On another note, If you are wondering how long a 3D printer can work, check out How often do 3D printers need a break? A go-to guide for 3D printers

What cleaning methods can I use to clean my 3D printer nozzle?

While cleaning your printer nozzle often is a good practice, it may not always solve all issues you are experiencing with your 3D printer nozzle.

Therefore, it is always imperative to diagnose the source of problems with your 3D printer nozzle first before you conclude on cleaning the nozzle as a solution. Once you have examined all possible causes and narrowed down to dirty nozzle as the cause of your printer problem, you can now move forward and define the cleaning methods to use.

For exterior debris on your 3D printer nozzle, it is recommended that you first clean the printer nozzle using an alcohol wipe or a damp cloth while your printer nozzle is still hot. This will remove any debris clinging to the nozzle. In case this fails to work, you can also use a needle, wire brush, or small blade to remove any debris remaining on the printer nozzle.

For clogs on your 3D printer nozzle, try sticking a small needle in your printer nozzle to break up and push out the debris out. Also, you can perform a cold pull, that will remove the clogged debris from the hot end entirely. (Source)

Does a worn-out nozzle cause stringing?

Yes, a worn-out nozzle may cause stringing as it leaves marks on the inner part of the printer nozzle. Stringing (also known as whiskers or oozing,) happens when there are small strings of plastic left on your 3D print. This is normally caused by plastic oozing out of your printer nozzle while the extruder moves to a new location.

Excessive stringing can be arrested using what is known as a retraction. This is a functionality setting in 3D printers that are enabled to combat excessive stringing cases.

Another measure you can use to prevent stringing is by cleaning the printer nozzle thoroughly before printing. When you continuously use your 3D printer for a longer time, while using a single type of plastic material, the filament is likely to leave a thin layer of residue on the nozzle, causing stringing.

To curb this problem, always ensure you clean your 3D printer nozzle thoroughly before printing to clear any dirt that may remain on the nozzle from the previous filaments.

How tight should a 3D printer nozzle be?

3D printer nozzle should be tightened with allowance to ensure it does not slip and put a lot of pressure on the filament either. You can use a trial-and-error method with a range of test prints to enable you to calibrate your printer nozzle appropriately.

We highly recommend that you also check out our post ” Can You Use 2.85mm Filament In A 1.75mm Printer? Does Filament Size Matter?

Also consider using an oiler. For more on this check out our post on What Is A Filament Oiler In 3D Printing? Should You Lubricate Your 3D Printer

Does nozzle affect print quality?

3D printer nozzle affects print quality greatly. You must give serious thought to the type of nozzle you intend to use. Having rich information on the effects of your 3D nozzle on print quality is vital.

As to which printer nozzle is of the best quality is something you must carefully decide on based on the printing material you intend to use and whether you are willing to compromise the print quality or speed.

Since the 3D printer nozzle is the last part of the printer to come into contact with the filament material, it has a big impact on the print quality and time.  Therefore, selecting the correct 3D printer nozzle is a vital step towards enhancing the quality of your 3D prints. 

Also check out What Is Gantry Height In 3D Printing? The Correct Setting & How To Fix Print Head

There are many options out there in the market when it calls for choosing the best 3D printer nozzle. However, three main characteristics are key to the nozzle’s design: The material, inner diameter, and size.

Thermal conduction relates to nozzle material since each material has a different energy conduction rate based on its properties.

Also, the bigger your 3D nozzle size, the more surface area and mass available for heat transfer to the filament material, making it more effective for higher extrusion speeds.

Finally, the 3D printer nozzle’s inner diameter affects the filament material extruded per second, commonly known as flow. This also regulates the maximum 3D printer extrusion speed. This property also relates to final print quality in terms of accuracy. Smaller 3D printer nozzle diameters allow for thinner walls and layers to be printed. 

Generally, all these three crucial characteristics of a 3D printer nozzle can pose a big impact on printing process duration as well as the print quality. As to which 3D print nozzle is the best is a question for you to decide. It boils down to the range of filament material you choose to use and whether you are willing to compromise on quality or speed.

Check out our article on how to make 3D printed Parts stronger.

What is the function of thermistors in 3D printing?

Thermistors (Thermal Resisters) are electrical devices whose resistance keeps on varying with the temperature change. The thermistor on 3D printers serves a crucial functionality in 3D printing where it functions as a temperature-sensing device and a control device. (Source)

As a temperature-sensing device, it helps monitor temperature then sends back the temperature result to the micro-controller. The micro-controller uses the information gotten from the thermistor to regulate the printing temperate and maintain its required range.

What happens if a thermistor is bad?

It is easy to tell when your 3D printer thermistor is failing and require replacement. Symptoms of a bad thermistor will normally present themselves early enough before it graduates to completely bad.

If your thermistor is bad, it will display wrong temperatures or irregular temperature fluctuations. For instance, it will be abnormal to have temperatures reading 210 degrees only to realize it drops drastically to 189 degrees and jump back high again.

Therefore, the general symptoms of a bad thermistor include:

  • Incorrect temperature readings
  • Temperature fluctuations
  • Blower motor broken

While these three symptoms may indicate a bad thermistor, testing your thermistor is the only sure way to enable you to conclude on a bad thermistor. (Source)

Check out our article on what happens if you overheat your 3D print.


With vast knowledge in 3D printing, you will agree with me that there is no one combination of 3D printer settings capable of working across different designs, environments, and filaments. Therefore, it is important to constantly refresh and adapt to problems as a measure to offer more solutions to emerging problems.

With many emerging 3D printing problems and challenges, addressing issues with stringing may take a multi-prolonged approach. The 3D printer nozzle and the type of filament may cause a stringing effect, hence, requires a fast address. You also need to play around with your 3D printer settings, with retraction and temperature being the focus. 

With all this information, we believe that you can now choose between the vast range of 3D printer nozzles available in the market and pick one that will satisfy your needs. While there is no one perfect nozzle, we recommend that you choose the best option for your print based on the material used, availability of printing time, and detail requirements.

Should you have any questions or concerns about 3D printer nozzles, and or 3D printer thermistors, feel free to contact us at 3D Print Schooling, where all your queries and concerns regarding 3D printing will be answered.

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