Making 3-D printing safer

August 30, 2017

Within the past decade, 3-D printers have gone from bulky, expensive curiosities to compact, more affordable consumer products. At the same time, concerns have emerged that nanoparticles released from the machines during use could affect consumers' health. Now researchers report in ACS' Environmental Science & Technology a way to eliminate almost all nanoparticle emissions from some of these printers.

Recent studies on 3-D printers have found that when operating, the devices can release , aldehydes and into the air. All of these substances have the potential to harm human health. But no research had been reported on strategies for preventing or reducing pollution from the machines. So Chungsik Yoon and colleagues decided to focus on testing various approaches for controlling the devices' nanoparticle emissions.

For their study, the researchers worked with a 3-D printer based on fused-deposition modeling technology, the most commonly used process among commercially available models. They tested seven "inks" made out of thermoplastic materials under different temperatures. Of these, high-impact polystyrene and nylon had the highest nanoparticle rates; polylactic acid had the lowest. Printing at the manufacturer-recommended temperatures resulted in fewer emissions than doing so at higher temperatures. The researchers also analyzed eight methods for controlling pollution from the printers using varying combinations of fans, filters and enclosures. All of the designs removed at least 70 percent of nanoparticle emissions. The most efficient approach eliminated 99.95 percent of such pollution, and involved enclosing the printer and installing a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Based on their results, the researchers recommend using , low-emitting materials and enclosing 3-D printers with a HEPA or similar filter to reduce the release of nanoparticles.

Explore further: Do laser printers emit harmful particles?

More information: Characterization and Control of Nanoparticle Emission during 3D Printing, Environ. Sci. Technol., Article ASAP. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b01454

Related Stories

Do laser printers emit harmful particles?

December 2, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers have investigated the possibility that laser printers emit pathogenic toner particles into the air, which has been a subject of public controversy. Some reports have suggested that laser printers ...

3-D printing glass objects

April 20, 2017

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany has developed a way to 3-D print objects made of pure glass. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the group describes their technique ...

Researchers create one-nanometer trimetallic alloy particles

August 1, 2017

The principal components of petroleum and natural gas are hydrocarbons and their mixtures, indispensable as resources supporting modern infrastructure as raw materials for the petrochemical industry. A technique conventionally ...

Recommended for you

New method analyzes corn kernel characteristics

November 17, 2017

An ear of corn averages about 800 kernels. A traditional field method to estimate the number of kernels on the ear is to manually count the number of rows and multiply by the number of kernels in one length of the ear. With ...

Optically tunable microwave antennas for 5G applications

November 16, 2017

Multiband tunable antennas are a critical part of many communication and radar systems. New research by engineers at the University of Bristol has shown significant advances in antennas by using optically induced plasmas ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.