3D Printer Layer Height vs Nozzle Diameter

Nathan Rizzuti Profile image

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Updated February 1, 2023

The best 3D printers are no longer mysterious devices you only see on television. Now, some of the best printers are available to buy and enjoy at home. However, before making any rash decision, you must inform yourself about many key terms to purchase the right device. Below we’ll explain 3D printer layer height vs nozzle diameter. We will define terms and help you understand how each affects print quality, production speed, and more.


  • Layer height and nozzle diameter are directly related, as the nozzle size determines the layer thickness.
  • Printing with thicker layers results in a faster process, but the object quality will be lower.
  • Printing with thinner layers results in a more refined resolution and extended print time.

Don’t stop here. There’s a lot to learn when preparing to buy a 3D printer. We have everything from buying guides on the best direct drive 3D printers to specific product comparisons, like the Mosquito vs E3D V6. And we also have more to compare specific parts, like the difference between 3D printers with a 100 vs 200-micron layer height.

Insider Tip

Always make sure to clean your printer nozzle after use. This will help avoid any quality issues for the next print job.

3D Printer Nozzle Size vs Layer Height

3D printers work by continuously applying layers of material to make an object programmed in by software. And there are big differences in outcome depending on the layer size used to make up an object.

To determine what your layer size will follow the equation:

  • 75% * nozzle diameter = maximum layer height
  • 25% * nozzle diameter = minimum layer height

First, it’s crucial to understand that layer height and nozzle diameter are directly related terms. So what do these terms mean?

Layer height is how thick each layer is. And the nozzle diameter is what determines how thick and thin a layer is capable of being.

Therefore, when we compare the two below, we are comparing larger vs smaller layer height/nozzle size. So, the comparison is how layer thickness and nozzle size are used together rather than comparing the terms as competing methods.

If you finish this article and want more 3D-related content, we have a great article comparing 3D printers with glass vs magnetic beds. Finally, for those interested, check out our guide on the best 3D printers for jewelry.

Print Quality

The rule is relatively simple, the larger the layer thickness, the lower the quality. Of course, prioritizing quality isn’t always necessary, especially for rudimentary objects where aesthetics is not a concern.


Using the minimum layer height for objects going through any post-print refining (sanding/polishing/painting) is a waste of time, as the effect of thin layers won’t be visible.

On the other hand, thinner layer height results in a smoother, more polished, and more intricate product. For more on how specific parts affect the overall quality, hop over to our article explaining 3D printer rafts vs brims.

Printing Speed

Adding more layers adds time (and cost), as logically follows. Therefore, printing with thinner individual layers takes longer than the maximum layer height.

STAT: General consumer printers offer layer heights between .1-.4 MM. (source)

3D Printer Layer Height vs Nozzle Diameter FAQs

What material is a nozzle made of?

Most 3D printers come with brass nozzles. However, there are some stainless steel nozzles as well.

When is it best to use lower-layer heights?

Using minimum layer heights is always fore when prioritizing aesthetics over speed.

What nozzle size is best for composite material?

For handling composite material, you’ll likely want a nozzle larger than .4MM.
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