3D printers are becoming increasingly popular in the home, but many people don’t know about their safety. 3D printer fumes can be harmful if they’re not vented properly.
Find out more by reading our blog post on how to reduce the health risks of 3d printing at home today!
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Are 3d printer fumes harmful? (3d printer air quality)
Yes, 3D printer emissions can reduce indoor air quality and have the ability to irritate respiratory health.
3D printers build objects by laying down very thin layers of material on top of each other. Each layer is 0.1 to 0.4 millimeters thick and contains a mix of plastic and other chemicals, such as solvents and pigments.
Fumes from this process may contain an unpleasant odor and can irritate your eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs.
These fumes may contain monomer vapors that are harmful to your health if inhaled in large enough quantities.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an odorless gas that can be released into the air when organic materials are burned at high temperatures. Carbon Monoxide is flammable and can collect in enclosed spaces, where it can displace oxygen. This lack of oxygen can lead to headaches, fatigue, nausea, and brain damage.
Carbon Monoxide is the leading cause of poisoning fatalities in America today.
This poisonous gas can enter your home when 3D printers are used inside without proper ventilation or air circulation. Air purifiers that use activated carbon technology can remove Carbon Monoxide from the air.
Inhalation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is another health risk for 3D printer users.
VOCs are a group of chemicals that vaporize easily at room temperature and get into the environment, where they evaporate quickly and turn into toxic fumes in your home.
How can I decrease exposure to 3D printing fumes? (pla filament/abs filament)
Are 3d Printer Fumes Harmful? (Cre: 3dinsider)
Avoid using your 3d printer in a cramped area without proper ventilation.
Increase the size of your room, move it into an open space, or use a commercial or industrial grade exhaust fan to remove fumes from your space.
Add an activated carbon air purifier such as the IQAir GC MultiGas to capture harmful VOCs and other gases emitted during printing. This technology uses a combination of adsorption and chemical reactions to remove pollutants from indoor environments. Upgrade your 3D printer ventilation system with an HSFTX+™ Ducting System.
This system provides improved airflow to keep indoor air quality safe for everyone in your home or office environment.
3D printers can be used safely without proper ventilation, but using your 3d printer close to an open window or outside is not recommended.
Instead of printing toxic VOCs in enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces, choose to purchase a printer with an activated carbon air purifier technology such as the MakerBot Replicator+, XYZprinting da Vinci Color, and Lulzbot Mini.
Since body heat can cause ABS filament to warp during printing, consider purchasing a 3D printer that uses PLA filament instead of ABS. PLA is a material derived from corn, tapioca roots, or sugarcane.
It creates less toxic fumes and emits a more pleasant smell than ABS during printing.
Another option would be to purchase a 3D printer that uses water-soluble support material such as the XYZprinting da Vinci Mini. This technology builds objects in layers with support material that dissolves in water without leaving residues.
Is 3d printing safe for people with asthma and allergies? (3d printer fumes dangerous )
Yes, 3D printers produce very small particles that can be dangerous to those who already have respiratory problems such as asthma and allergies.
3D printers work by melting a plastic filament (wire) and forming it into a specific shape using computer-assisted design (CAD). The printer heats the plastic to its melting point and then extrudes it from a small tip, much like squeezing toothpaste from the tube.
The melted plastic cools very quickly and solidifies into a strand. This process is sometimes repeated up to 25 times per second to form a single layer of the desired object.
The objects created by 3D printers can be made of many types of plastic, such as ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), PLA (polylactic acid), Nylon, HDPE (high-density polyethylene), TPE (thermoplastic elastomer), PP (polypropylene), and more.
When heated, each type of plastic emits unique VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds, into the surrounding air.
Is PLA toxic to dogs? (toxic fumes)
Yes, PLA is safe for dogs to play with. PLA is non-toxic to dogs.
Dogs are not known to chew on PLA printed objects, but if your dog does so, please keep an eye out for changes in behavior or stool.
PLA is made from corn starch and some trace minerals. It has a rather bland taste, thus it’s palatable(NOTE: PLA can be flavored with any number of things, just like people’s food).
You may notice this white powdery substance covering the printed object. PLA dust is not toxic. However, it may be an irritant to some dogs. It’s very basic stuff.
After printing, soapy water can be used to clean the object off without harming it.
Are 3d Printer Fumes Harmful? (Cre: forbes)
Can 3D printers use PLA and PETG cause headaches?
That is a myth. It has no basis in reality.
The PLA used for printing is made of corn starch and some trace minerals which are non-toxic to humans. Although the PLA dust can be an irritant, it’s not toxic nor will it cause headaches. The 3D printer filament itself does not produce any fumes or smells.
3D printing enthusiasts claim PLA can cause headaches because, when the filament is being extruded from the nozzle into a solid object, it can give off an ethereal scent.
If you have ever been to a 3-D printer demonstration at a school or public library, you would notice this smell. It’s something like candle wax and vanilla. It really isn’t strong at all.
There’s no way it could cause headaches or make you ill. You could probably eat it and be fine.
The only PLA filament that is toxic, is the ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) filament used in 3D printers. ABS has a very bad reputation for causing cancer.
Is PLA biodegradable?
Yes, PLA is fully biodegradable.
PLA is considered compostable, which means during the composting process, it will break down into carbon dioxide, water, and humus (a nutrient-rich organic substance produced by composting).
Perhaps if you were to bury some PLA object in your backyard for a few years, it might decompose and be of some use to the earth.
However, PLA is not an inert material, which means PLA cannot be disposed of in the regular trash by most curbside programs because there are no recycling facilities for it.
Only compostable objects should go into a home compost pile. In most cases, PLA should be thrown out in the trash.
It has been shown that 3d printer fumes can cause adverse health effects, such as headaches and nausea. However, the extent of these symptoms is not clear because there are no studies on long-term exposure to this type of toxin.
The best way to avoid negative side effects from printing with a 3D printer is by using it in well-ventilated spaces or wearing protective gear if you have prolonged exposure to its emissions. Protect your employees’ safety by taking precautions when using a 3D printer at work!
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