3D printers are gaining popularity as rapid prototyping and small scale manufacturing devices. However a recent research shows that 3D printers produce more potentially dangerous ultrafine particles than previously thought.
The heated thermoplastic extrusion and deposition that many desktop 3D printer use is a process that has been shown to have significant aerosol emissions in industrial environments. According to a research published on ScienceDirect, the emission rates of total ultrafine particle (UFP) concentrations resulting from the operation of desktop 3D printers inside a commercial office space are pretty large.
For comparison, researchers' estimate of the total UFP emission rate for a single PLA-based 3D printer is similar to that reported during cooking with an electric frying pan. ABS 3D printer has an emission rate similar to that reported during grilling food on gas or electric stoves at low power.
And because most of these 3D printers are currently sold as standalone devices without any exhaust ventilation or filtration accessories, scientists suggest to operate these devices in well ventilated area, and more controlled experiments should be conducted to more fundamentally evaluate particle emissions from a wider arrange of desktop 3D printers.
The survey was conducted by the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering of Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.
According to the scientists, the particles emitted by 3D printing have a potential health risk: it is possible that these inhalation settle in the lungs and head airways. It is still unclear what the chemical composition of the particles.
Posted in 3D Printing Technology
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Patmc wrote at 7/24/2013 4:29:05 PM:
BBenedikt: PLA plastic is a natural, corn based polymer... it is not petroleum based like ABS plastic.
Bri wrote at 7/22/2013 7:10:28 PM:
@BBenedikt PLA is made from corn not oil. ABS is made from oil.
Jeff wrote at 7/22/2013 6:27:06 PM:
"...similar to that reported during cooking with an electric frying pan" "...similar to that reported during grilling food on gas or electric stoves at low power." Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't those two things most people do in thier homes, daily, with little worry and little if any detrimental health effects? I can see that it might suggest that if you are going to run your printer a lot, you enclose it, or at least move it out of your living room, but I am not seeing a "end of the world" health impact here.
Joe Larson wrote at 7/22/2013 5:43:16 PM:
Well, good thing I keep mine out in the garage and use it unmonitored most of the time.
BBenedikt wrote at 7/22/2013 2:03:31 PM:
In my opinion No. 1 research topic should be alternative materials since plastic is made of oil... Think about that!
Sweeney wrote at 7/22/2013 11:07:07 AM:
"Who paid for this research?" I'd guess the manufacturers of fume hoods & extractors. I can't see how fused filament printing would be any worse than operating a home laser printer. Commercial printers using sintered powders are a different matter but this one doesn't ring true.
ThatGuy wrote at 7/22/2013 8:52:30 AM:
Something doesn't smell right. You have an extrusion set up, while you can get vapors, I don't see where you are getting particulate matter airborne. Maybe they are burning the crap out of the polymer.
Doc wrote at 7/21/2013 6:35:08 PM:
Who paid for this research?