UL Sets 3D Printing Emission Standard
Jeffrey Heimgartner posted on February 14, 2019 |
UL published ANSI/CAN/UL 2904 Standard for 3D printers.
Filament type and color for 3D printers can affect emissions. (Image courtesy of UL.)
Filament type and color for 3D printers can affect emissions. (Image courtesy of UL.)

As the use of additive manufacturing has grown exponentially, so have concerns about emissions from 3D printers. With an increasing number of freestanding 3D printers being used in schools, offices and other enclosed locations, indoor air pollution has become an important concern.

UL, a global safety consulting and certification firm based in Illinois, collaborated with Georgia Institute of Technology on a two-year study focused on these emissions. Based on the results of that research, which were released in November, UL developed the first edition of ANSI/CAN/UL 2904, “Standard Method for Testing and Assessing Particle and Chemical Emissions from 3D Printers.”

“ANSI/CAN/UL 2904 will advance the availability of low emission printers and print media for use in the global marketplace,” Phil Piqueira, UL vice president of standards. “UL is proud to offer its first safety standard addressing chemical pollution and reducing its impact on human health.”

The joint study found that many 3D printers generated ultrafine particles (UFPs) while in use. These particles could negatively impact the human pulmonary system if inhaled. Additionally, the research team discovered the printers emitted more than 200 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including ones that could be considered irritants or carcinogens.

The new ANSI/CAN/UL 2904 Standard from UL aims to provide emission protocols to reduce indoor air pollution hazards. (Image courtesy of UL.)
The new ANSI/CAN/UL 2904 Standard from UL aims to provide emission protocols to reduce indoor air pollution hazards. (Image courtesy of UL.)

In its research, the UL and Georgia Tech team determined that a host of factors can affect emissions. These included temperature, filament material and color, and printer brand. ANSI/CAN/UL 2904 addresses these factors and provides measurement and assessment protocols for particle and chemical emissions for diverse 3D printers, print media and print applications.

“The new standard allows manufacturers and users of 3D printers to have the assurance that printers have been tested and shown to meet low emission criteria for small particles and volatile chemicals that can affect human health,” said Dr. Marilyn Black, UL vice president and senior technical advisor.

UL also unveiled a new service, the Plastics for Additive Manufacturing Program (Blue Card Program), which provides a way for customers to know that the component or end-product manufacturer used tested and certified material and is regularly being monitored for safety and integrity.

Interested in more about the evolving world of 3D printing? Check out 3D Printing Predictions for 2019.


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