Recently, there has been an increase in the adoption of 3D printing technology. 3D printers, therefore, are being used in offices, laboratories, shops, and homes. Individuals and organisations buying 3D printers for personal use often do worry about their own safety and even health issues.
3D printers have hot and cold points as well as complex electronics and multiple moving parts. All these combined with interactions with various materials and prolonged usage of the printer can create safety and health concerns around the usage of 3D printers, especially in non-ventilated spaces. That said, this article discusses some critical health and safety considerations during 3D printing. Read on to learn more!
7 Health And Safety Considerations During 3D Printing
1. Be Aware Of Toxic Fumes From Materials
3D printers release small vapours into the air when using polylactic acid (PLA) or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) as filament. If the room is poorly ventilated, these vapours contaminate the air, resulting in headaches, drowsiness, or dizziness. According to one study, both PLA and ABS may release toxic fumes known as VOCs (Volatile Organic Carbon) which poses a serious health risk.
Most people exposed to 3D printer fumes have reported serious health issues, especially those with respiratory problems. To avoid inhaling contaminated air from 3D fumes, consider investing in a heavy-duty air purifier. Besides eliminating air contaminants, some air purifiers operate silently, hence, suitable for quiet environments, such as offices and libraries.
2. Avoid Electric Shocks
Electric shocks are among the safety concerns when using 3D printers.
3D printers contain lots of conductive materials, that’s why the user is at risk of a mains voltage electric shock. The risk of getting a mains electric shock is greater when using a 3D printer kit. But, what causes 3D electric shocks? Faulty ground connections are one of the usual reasons. Additionally, if the primary wire is loose and comes into contact with the frame of your 3D printer, it can also result in 3D printer shock.
3. Watch Out For Scraper Blades
Avoid applying excessive force and exercise restraint when using scraper blades to remove finished 3D prints. If you need too much force when using scrapper blades, you’re likely using the wrong printing surface.
Since scraper blades are laced with contaminants, any scraper blade cut may lead to severe infection. Therefore, ensure that you always scrape away from your fingers. Wear protective gloves while scraping, place your hands behind the scraper blades, and always use a good quality print surface so the prints won’t stick so hard.
4. Avoid Pinch-Point Injuries From Moving Parts
If you aren’t watchful of your 3D printer’s mechanical movements in the three-dimensional space (X, Y, and Z), you’re likely to experience pinch-point injuries.
Make sure you follow the instructions provided to avoid accidents. The instructions direct you on how to move and how fast.
Most 3D printers with an open-loop system don’t have a feedback system to tell whether the moving part is moving in the right direction or has met obstructions on its path. However, there are closed-loop systems that can detect collision and react, but they aren’t common with hobby 3D printers.
A 3D printer’s movement can easily pinch your fingers if you aren’t careful when using it. Avoid reaching out for your 3D printer unless you’re sure it isn’t printing. Always wear good-quality protective gloves when printing.
5. Watch Out For Burn Risks From Heated Parts
A 3D printer works with very high temperatures—from the print surface, to the hot end. Filaments in fused deposition modeling (FDM) are melted by the hot end, and, then, put down layer after layer into a property. The temperature can range from 200 to 300 degrees Celsius, depending on the material you’re using.
Coming into contact with printers’ hot components can get you burnt. Therefore, be careful when changing filaments, performing printer maintenance, or reaching into a 3D printer.
Additionally, most FDM printers use a heated bed for the first printing layer. The bed can be heated to up to 100 degrees Celsius or more. Ensure that your 3D printer is out of reach of children and pets, and have your gloves on when handling the machine.
6. Adhere To Standard Safety Guidelines
A 3D printer should be kept in isolation. Avoid placing the machine in places for eating, drinking, and playing. Always keep your 3D printer in a well-ventilated room.
Make sure that you wear your protective glasses and gloves when working with your 3D printer. Never allow unauthorized personnel to use the printer without supervision.
7. Minimise Risk Of Fire
Although there’s minimal risk of fire associated with 3D printers available in the market, there have been incidents of these machines catching fire. Knowing how fire accidents can be devastating, it’s best to take precautions even if the risks are low.
When purchasing a 3D printer, consider buying the one with the ‘thermal runaway’ feature. Thermal runaway enables 3D printers to shut down automatically in the event of faults due to excessive heating.
Place your 3D printer away from any flammable material and install the room with a smoke detector to help detect fire immediately.
3D printers are complex machinery that comes with safety rules to be followed by each user. Don’t overlook safety considerations during 3D printing to avoid accidents that may arise when using the said machines.
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