Could 3D Printing Be Dangerous?
Kyle Maxey posted on July 23, 2013 |
Study suggests 3D printing could be hazardous to your health.

3D printers are gaining rapid adoption.  However, little attention has been paid to the way these machines affect our health.

In a recently published study, researchers at the Illinois Institute of Technology suggests that 3D printers might be producing ultrafine particles that pollute our environment.

According to the study, the process for heating and depositing PLA material causes the release of ultrafine particles (UFP), specks of plastic under 100 nanometers in diameter, which can be inhaled by anyone working near an active 3D printer.

During the course of the Illinois team’s study, the group found that ABS 3D printers were capable of producing a UFP emission rate similar to that of an electric or gas stove while cooking. In fact, according to the study, “Emission rates of total UFPs were approximately an order of magnitude higher for 3D printers utilizing an ABS thermoplastic feedstock relative to a PLA feedstock”.

In its conclusion the study suggests that 3D printers be considered “high emitters”, and that “caution should be used when operating some commercially available 3D printers in unvented or inadequately filtered indoor environments”.

While there are obvious solutions to this problem (adequate venting, sealed build chambers etc.) the Illinois study brings up valid points, ones that operators should consider when implementing 3D Printing in a work environment.

Image Courtesy of Science Direct

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