3D Printing Airborne Particles May be a Health Hazard, Warns New Study

Alarming research has indicated that toxic ultrafine particles are being dispersed into the air every time you 3D print.

The 3D printing industry has grown tremendously over the past years. Just this past alone, the industry has reached new heights growing 21 percent from last year, topping out at $7 billion.

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You and your friends may have even bought into the 3D printer hype; a desktop 3D printer to complete passion projects, create art, print tools for around the house or even for professional work.

Though 3D printing has a lot of practical and commercial applications, there have been a lot of questions surrounding the potentially toxic aerosols that come from the 3D printing itself.

Anyone who has 3D printed before can tell you that the smell of the process (depending on the filament of course) is nothing pleasant and is probably something that should not be inhaled.

Recently researchers have gained further insight into the emissions that are produced from desktop printers and under factors lead to their production.

3D Printing Safety

In a newly published two year investigation, scientists have discovered that 3D printers are dispersing hundreds of different compound into the “printing room”. Some of these compounds are known for causing health hazards.

The study conducted by the Georgia Institute of Technology and the UL Chemical Safety was one of the first controlled studies on 3D printers. Researchers pushed vehemently to complete this study due to the previous indications of the potential health hazards associated with printing.

According to the study ultrafine particles or UFPs, are produced on standard desktop printers. These particles, untraceable to the human eye can lead to serious health problems when they are inhaled and delivered to the body’s pulmonary system.

Print at Your Own Risk

Everytime you print, a burst of these particles are dispersed throughout the room. Long time exposure to some of these UFPs can cause irritation, burning of the eyes and throat, headaches, confusion, and gastrointestinal problems.

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The research team also documented the factors involved with the production of UFPs. Things like the temperature of the nozzle, the type of filament used, printer brand and color all dictated what type of UFPs were produced.

It is good to mention that FDM printers were only studied during the research, however, the researchers plan on examining other filaments and print technologies in the near future. This news comes at a time where 3D printing is more accessible than ever to the hobbyists and business.

Will this news affect your 3D printing hobby?

 

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