The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has produced a report with a warning that 3D printers can produce harmful emissions that could potentially endanger users.
As 3D printers become more affordable and proliferate through schools, colleges, and business the HSE has formed an advisory panel to investigate the health and safety concerns following recently published evidence. It has investigated the particle and volatile emissions from polymer filament desktop 3D printers which found that some of the plastic filament materials used, when heated, would release chemicals “known to be hazardous to health” which included, along with others, isocyanates and styrenes.
The occurrence happens when a resin polymer material is extruded through a heated extruder nozzle, 200 - 250°C, that creates a strand of molten plastic and deposits it on to the print bed which subsequently cools.
This report suggests that these types of printers may emit many particles that can potentially enter the airways and lungs.
The research was carried out, in a laboratory setting, using a bespoke test chamber and three types of desktop printers. During testing, to BS EN 1093, the HSE found that placing the desktop 3D printer inside an enclosing hood with filtered ventilation reduced particle emission rates by 97%.
If 3D printers were to be placed in enclosed-hood fitted with an air filtration system along with waiting for a sufficient time for clearance of emissions to clear after printing then a significant reduction in airborne particles could be obtained before opening the hood.
Following the recommendations from the HSE report, a UK’s leading manufacturer has developed a universal safety cabinet to protect users.
The Kora SC-01 Safety Cabinet is designed to fit most standard sized FFF/FDM style desktop 3D printers.