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3D Printing Emissions and Their Impact on Health and Indoor Air Quality

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Users of 3D printers are aware of and are showing concerns over 3D printer emissions, especially when used in environments like schools, offices and residences. 3D printing is found to emit particles and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can deteriorate indoor air quality and are known to have adverse health effects, which was presented last year. In particular, ultrafine particles, which are nanometers in size, can enter into human bodies and cause adverse health effects; some VOCs emitted from 3D printing are known to be odorants, irritants, toxins and/or carcinogens.  This talk extends beyond last year’s presentation by focusing on particle and VOC emissions from various 3D printing technologies and print materials. Study focus includes consumer- level fused filament fabrication 3D printing with various thermoplastics and thermoplastics with additives of coloring dyes, metals and flame retardants, and desktop vat photopolymerization 3D printing with resins. The emission levels of particle and VOC from various 3D printers and print materials are measured using a standardized test method in a controlled environmental chamber. Emissions are characterized depending on printer type, print material type and specific feedstock additives and post-processing methods. Other concerning airborne emissions like metals and flame retardants are also analyzed. Potential health impacts of particle emissions are estimated based on various toxicity assessment assays. Exposure hazards in different indoor environments are estimated using an indoor air model.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand particle, VOC, metal, carbon fiber, and flame retardant emissions resulting from 3D printing and what affects their levels
  • Understand how to operate 3D printers in the way to minimize exposures
  • Learn specific chemicals of concern, based on health impact and emission levels, that should be eliminated from 3D printing