3D printing at home and the health risks associated with it

By on July 24, 2013, 1:45 PM
3d printing, makerbot, healh risks, abs, pla, ufp, ultrafine particle, airborne particles

Researchers at the Illinois Institute of Technology have released a study outlining the potential health risks associated with at-home 3D printers. The idea may seem a bit farfetched at first, but it’s much more plausible when you consider the fact that industrial 3D printers typically use ventilation systems to expel airborne particles.

Brent Stephens and his team rounded up five of the most popular 3D printers including the MakerBot Replicator and the UP Mini. They found units which use both ABS and PLA polymers as feedstock were high emitters of ultrafine particles (UFPs). In fact, the printers put out nearly the same level of emissions as the operation of a laser printer or the burning of a cigarette.

The problem is that because of the tiny nature of the airborne particles, they often end up being inhaled and sucked into your lungs. From here, they are absorbed directly into the bloodstream. It’s serious business as UFPs have been linked to all sorts of illnesses including asthma-like symptoms, lung cancer and even strokes.

It’s worth clarifying that the researchers didn’t delve into the actual chemical makeup of ABS and PLA emissions. Other studies, however, have found that ABS does have a toxic effect while PLA is widely used in drug deliver.

Based on the study, it’d probably be a good idea to take some basic precautions when operating a 3D printer at home. If you don’t have access to a well-ventilated area, a respirator or basic face mask would be a good start.




User Comments: 10

Got something to say? Post a comment
VitalyT VitalyT said:

So the next wave of 3D printers will be sold with respirators...

We cannot print food and chemicals just yet, although people are already printing guns, but with a respirator we are one step closer to Breaking Bad on that one...

MilwaukeeMike said:

Bummer... I was hoping this was an article about someone who tried to print his own food.

JC713 JC713 said:

There is always a roadblock, and this is one of them. Hopefully we can find a way around this.

1 person liked this | fimbles fimbles said:

Print yourself some dust filters in the garden before you take it in the house :P

hitech0101 said:

A lot of products we use have health risks but 3d printers are relatively new only time will tell when a lot of the population uses it whether is risky or not.

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

So printing a bowl and microwaving soup in it is probably a bad idea...

Win7Dev said:

So printing a bowl and microwaving soup in it is probably a bad idea...

Microwaving a plastic bowl that has a low melting temperature is always a bad idea.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Oh, now that you can print guns at home it's bad for your health.. I see. How about aspartame "enriched" milk, FDA? That's ok, right?

jeffz6 said:

Oh, now that you can print guns at home it's bad for your health.. I see. How about aspartame "enriched" milk, FDA? That's ok, right?

Love it!

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.