3-D Printing and Indoor Air Quality Concerns

Since 3-D printing emits ultrafine particles, of which studies have shown can be harmful when inhaled, it is crucial air filtration systems are present and functioning properly.

A long-term study looking at the health effects of 3-D printing is currently in progress with the hopes of understanding the potential occupational risks to industry workers.

According to 3ders.org, an organization which covers the latest news and trends in 3-D printing, there are some concerns about the quality of 3-D printed materials on the environment. This study will help both researchers and users of 3-D printers get a better idea of the impact printing emissions have on the health of employees and the air.

Previous findings

A previous study from 2013 conducted by researchers from the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology was one of the first to study the effects of ultrafine particles, which are defined as being less than 100 nanometers in diameter. Their small size makes them easily breathable by workers.

Additionally, ultrafine particles may lead to changes within an individual’s body, depending on exposure time, age and sex, according to a 2014 study published by Environmental Health Perspectives. Because of the presence of these small particles, 3-D printer users may have to take extra precautions when using the machinery, even if the printers are used in a home or school setting.

The study from IIT in Chicago was one of the first to measure the ultrafine particles emitted by a 3-D printer. Researchers were clear in stating that more studies are needed to understand the full impact of the 3-D printing’s side effects.  As for now, work sites can take preventive measures to ensure that employees are using a 3-D printer in a safe and clean environment.

The importance of 3-D printing

3-D printing is the process of taking a digital file created on a modeling program to then be created by the printing machine. The technology has been around since the early 1980s and in recent years, 3-D printing has become an important form of manufacturing. While hobbyists are able to find a small 3-D printer to use at home, 3-D printing has larger implications and has the potential to change some industries.

In October 2015, a 4-year old girl had difficulties breathing and after an extended stay in the hospital, doctors were able to help her through the use of 3-D printing. According to CNN, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami has a 3-D printer doctors were able to use to build an exact replica of the girl’s heart. The doctor in charge of the procedure, Redmond Burke, was able to study the model and thought of how to proceed with the surgery. He told CNN that the 3-D model decreased time in the surgery room by about two hours because the surgery team knew exactly what to do.

And it’s not just the medical industry that is benefiting from 3-D printing. A Dutch startup has started building the world’s first 3-D printed bridge in Amsterdam, 3ders.org stated. With the widespread usage of 3-D printing, which only figures to increase in the future, it is important to understand all the side effects of the manufacturing process.

Air ventilation and 3-D printing

Since 3-D printing emits ultrafine particles, of which studies have shown can be harmful when inhaled, it is crucial air filtration systems are present and functioning properly. Ideally, companies should not wait long periods of time to install such systems even though the side-effects of 3-D printer emissions are only just becoming understood.

To ensure workers are in the best conditions possible, business, industrial and educational organizations should contact Air Impurities Removal Systems today to filter out ultrafine particles that are a result of 3-D printing.