Inspired by Demented Chihuahua's extruder work, I repeated his experiment using what was left of my old heater. I mounted it in a 30mm M6 stainless steel washer and clamped that in a vice. I used my 0.3mm aluminium nozzle, which I counter bored with a 0.7mm drill to reduce the depth of the 0.3mm hole to about 1.5mm.
I powered the heater from a bench power supply and adjusted it manually to about the right temperature. Green ABS is handy for this because it changes colour at 260°C so you can tell when it is too hot.
I can extrude filament by pushing it by hand with moderate pressure. It comes out at 0.4mm but I should be able to stretch it back down to 0.3mm without any problems. Even with a 0.5mm nozzle I can stretch it down to 0.3mm, but I lose positional accuracy because the orifice no longer defines exactly where the plastic goes.
Originally the heater was 5mm longer, with the excess protruding beyond the half nut. I found that cutting that piece off made it easier to extrude. It was probably a relatively cool section so the plastic remained very viscous there.
When a new piece of filament is inserted into the heater it extrudes very easily. After a while some plastic flows backwards and builds at the entrance to the heater. That causes considerable extra resistance. I plan to tackle that by having a short section of PTFE at the entrance with a heatsink the other side of it. The steep gradient across the PTFE should freeze the back flow over a short distance and, being super slippery, should allow it to slide back into the heater.
Another thing I tried was forcing out the plastic using the shank of a 1/8" drill bit as a piston. The further the drill got to the end of the heater the less force was needed to push it. That confirms what I had suspected. The force to push the plastic though the long 3.5mm section of the barrel is very significant compared to the force to squeeze it through the short small hole in the nozzle. So the heater needs to be kept as short as possible. Obviously there will be a point where the extrusion rate becomes limited by the rate the plastic melts if it is too short, but I expect that is much shorter than the current set-up.