While 3D printers are not yet found in every office, school, or business, their popularity gradually increases. When their use grows, safety questions have arisen. Studies show that ultrafine particles are likely to be released by 3D printers as the filament is extruded through the nozzle. Inhaling particles have been shown to irritate the airways and lungs. According to epidemiological research on human exposure to ambient air pollution, people breathing air with high amounts of ultrafine particles are more likely to suffer from lung and cardiovascular illness.
What is 3D printing, and how does it function?
Computers are used to create three-dimensional objects with 3D printers. A computer file tells the 3D printer what to produce and how to print it. 3D printers stack layers of material to get the desired result. Different types of 3D printers do this in several ways. High temperatures, ultraviolet radiation, and lasers are all used by some.
3D printing is used in many fields, but people are not having the proper knowledge about the hazards of 3d printing. 3D printers employ a variety of print materials, including plastics, rubbers, and metals. The industry has traditionally utilized 3D printing for prototypes. However, it is now utilized in the industrial industry. Automobiles, airplanes, electronics, medical devices, and a range of other industries are all represented.
Main concerns regarding 3D printing’s impacts on the health
Even though FDM printers have been around for more than a decade, many people believe that 3d printing is dangerous because it produces poisonous particles that lodge deep in the lungs. Researchers evaluate long-term exposure to these particles to establish the degree of risk we face while printing, both short and long term.
Many people had many 3d printers in one room, which increases the harmful emission of poisonous fumes and particles in an enclosed environment. People spent more time inside their houses due to social confinement measures like quarantines or curfews, increasing their exposure to such pollutants.
Various studies have found that during 3D printing, nanoparticles known as ultrafine particles are emitted, which are considerably smaller than cigarette smoke. These particles enter the lungs through the respiratory canal and settle in the deepest parts of the lungs, causing inflammation.
The 3D printer is the most cutting-edge technology leverages human input on printing materials to make the most three-dimensional things. When the 3D printer is heated, the plasticized filament liquefies, and the fluid plastic passes through a nozzle to form an item.
Polylactic Acid (PLA), nylon, and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene are among the thermoplastics utilized as feedstock. Some 3D printers, on the other hand, use ultraviolet light and metal particles to make a component and a laser to shape it.
The risks associated with 3D printing are highly dependent on the equipment, materials, and configuration employed. Some printers, for example, may employ tiny particles that might cause significant skin and respiratory issues. Others make use of ABS filaments, which create harmful fumes when heated. When you’re exposed to UFPs and VOCs, you’re exposing yourself to a variety of dangers.
When you inhale such harmful particles, it will create various changes in your body and also you may suffer from following diseases such as,
- Cardiovascular disease
- Respiratory infection
- Lung cancer
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Central nervous system damage
- Irritation of the throat, nasal passages, and eyes
- Loss of general coordination
Tips to protect yourself from 3D printing
When working with 3D printing equipment, the only way to safeguard employees from 3D printer hazards is to wear personal protective equipment (PPE). Ascertain that your employees are aware of the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) and how to use it appropriately. To keep your employees safe when doing 3D printing operations, make sure they wear the proper PPE. Rapid initiatives assist employees in the 3D printing industry because they limit their exposure to 3D printer dangers.
Use enclosures for 3D printers fitted with ventilation to minimize chemical emissions Limit equipment access to authorized or trained professional employees. Make use of low-emissions equipment and materials. Limit the number of time workers spends near the printer when it’s on. Ensure that your employees are properly trained to prevent potential dangers. Take on safety gloves, protective glasses, and lab coats, among other things.
Here are some important pieces of personal protective equipment that every employee should have.
- Respiratory masks
- Gloves made of neoprene or nitrile
- Eye protection equipment
- Flame-Retardant, Particulate-Protection, or Chemical-Resistant Coveralls
It is essential to purchasing all coveralls and clothing to filter out 95 percent to 99 percent of 0.3-micron particles, similar to the N95 respirator, for maximum safety. You can achieve the ideal mix of safety and comfort by purchasing all necessary protective gear and clothing. To be safe, double-check your work procedure and choose the appropriate safety gear and clothing.
Ways to minimize the hazards in the workspace
There are several ways to provide appropriate protection, from ensuring adequate safety training to learning which equipment and materials pose the biggest risk. Furthermore, appropriate PPE usage in 3D printing is one of the simplest actions that organizations can take to protect the safety of their personnel while using 3D printing. Employees must be educated about the health risks associated with 3D printing. When a business educates employees about health hazards to safeguard them, productivity storing and accessing. Don’t forget to get Personal Protective Equipment for your staff so that they may operate safely and avoid health risks.
- 3D printers should be acquired from a reliable 3D printer manufacturer. These 3D printers employ photo-ionizing technology, which is apparently safer.
- You may reduce smoke exposure by putting the 3D printer in a well-ventilated environment.
- Materials having a high concentration of nanoparticles should be avoided.
- These are the simple solution for safeguarding employees from 3d printing health hazards. Find genuine PPE companies to ensure optimum safety if you wish to buy high-quality PPE.
3D printing is a wonderful technology, but it also causes various health hazards to the users. When you follow the safety recommendations, you may simply obtain protection. Furthermore, appropriate PPE use in 3D printing is one of the simplest steps businesses can take to protect their employees’ safety when using 3D printers.