So that shiny new 3D printer has arrived! You unwrap the packaging and behold it in all its sleek, modern glory, skipping over to your computer to start working on designs to 3D print. Setting it up on the desktop, you flick a switch, set the files rolling, and right before your eyes, that baby goes to work. As layer after layer are put down and your 3D model begins to emerge, you invite everyone over to check it out. No doubt, this is an incredible machine to have at your disposal—somewhat like magic—and definitely a whole lot of fun.
But the hours begin to stretch on, and that first figurine you are experimenting with is going to take 17 hours to print. That’s not really such a shock, and not a problem—as you can just head off to bed and check out the progress tomorrow before you leave for work. You drift off cozily, listening to the comforting whir and intermittent little beeps of your new machine, and suddenly all the fun and games come to a screeching halt as you detect a slight smell. Fumes! Toxins! How are you supposed to sleep with this thing in your house—fans going or not? And why didn’t anyone warn you?
While the jury is still out on much of the harm that could actually come to you, it’s certainly common sense to think that inhaling colorful melting plastic really isn’t such a great idea. We’ve been following this topic an awful lot lately too, as a couple of research studies have come out examining the dangers of fumes and fine particle emissions associated with 3D printing—most especially, research from the University of Texas. Manufacturers’ responses and information from other studies have ensued, exploring whether or not we are indeed poisoning ourselves. It seems pretty safe to say that we need to be very careful with ABS fumes, as well as other materials, and particularly when operating a metal 3D printer.
While everyone seems to perched on the edges of their seats as ‘further study required’ is contemplated, I fully embrace being safe rather than sorry. I like to breathe. And James Nordstrom does too, which is why he has created a full filtration center and enclosure that you can purchase for virtually any 3D printer. In making the 3DPrintClean filtration system, his concerns were to address the following possible hazards:
- Ultrafine particle emissions from desktop 3D printers
- Emissions of ultrafine particles and volatile organic compounds from commercially available desktop 3D printers
- Gas evolution during FDM 3D printing and health impact with multiple filaments
“3D Printers operating in enclosed spaces, like schools, libraries, homes, and offices, produce fumes and concentrations of ultrafine particles (UFPs). These emissions can cause runny noses, irritate the throat, lungs, and head, and create long-term health problems,” states Nordstrom.
Making stuff with ABS? HIPS? Nylon? Strange, exotic filaments giving off fumes? It sounds as if the 3DPrintClean filtration system could be exactly what you need so you can keep 3D printing to beat the band—but without the brain damage. With the system, you can still see everything printing through the clear access points, and can also open up the enclosure quickly and easily to remove the finished product.
“We enclose your 3D printer, protecting you, while our patent-pending recirculating filtration technology repeatedly scrubs the contaminated air until the concentration of ultrafine particles (UFP) and total volatile organic compound (TVOC) emissions have been reduced, and the enclosure is safe to open,” states Nordstrom on Kickstarter.
With a campaign just launched on Kickstarter, Nordstrom is hoping to find backers who will help him raise a very modest $6K by March 28. Backers who pledge $399 or more will find themselves receiving a 600mm Lightweight Enclosure, scrubber filtration system, and one filter by July. If you need a larger enclosure, a few more bucks will get you a bigger size, up to 800mm.
According to Nordstrom, the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology–the team responsible for the “Ultrafine particle emissions from desktop 3D printers” and “Emissions of Ultrafine Particles and Volatile Organic Compounds from Commercially Available Desktop Three-Dimensional Printers” research–has tested the enclosure and filtration systems and shows incredible reductions. Not just a concept, this is a product that obviously actually works.
“The average reduction in time-varying UFP emissions achieved by the enclosure and filtration system was 91% for the ABS and 66% for the Nylon filament,” stated the researchers in their evaluation as they tested the device on a LulzBot 3D printer (see figure 1, right). “Differences in these reductions may be attributable to differences in the sizes of UFPs emitted from the two filaments, although we do not have size-resolved concentration data for these filaments.”
“The average reduction in time-varying TVOC emission rate was 85% for the ABS filament and 94% from the Nylon filament,” they stated further.
The device can be assembled or taken apart in about ten minutes, and a one-year warranty is offered. While a simple change of filters should occur every few months, no external ventilation is required, and not only can you breathe easier, you can also look forward to better prints! This device also helps reduce warping, curling, and cracking.
- Fully enclosed printing environment
- Fume and ultrafine particle filtration
- Insulated interior maintains an optimal build temperature
- Excess heat dissipation to protect printers
- Dual cable seals
- Three windows to monitor your print
- Four doors for unobstructed printer access
- Blackout window covers
- Adjustable filtration speed for quiet environments
- Lightweight and portable
- 110/220v power supply
Future Optional Accessories:
- Thermal Cutoff
- Spool holder
- LED lighting
- Automated fire suppression
While Nordstrom promises it will work on nearly any 3D printer, here are some definite examples: Taz 4/5, Ultimaker 2, Ultimaker Extended, LulzBotTaz Mini, Flashforge, Zortrax M200, ROBO 3D, MakerBot Replicator, MakerBot Replicator 2 , MakerGear Printerbot, MakerBot Replicator Mini, Witbox, Form 1, Form 2, Airwolf, UP! Plus 2, HICTOP Prusa Mendel I3, WitBox, Micro 3D, Reprap, Printrbot, Dremel, XYZprinting, Cube 3D Printer, M3D Micro 3D, DA VINCI MINI, Beethefirst, HICTOP, and the Prusa I3 3D. Is this a product you are interested in? Discuss in the 3DPrintClean forum over at 3DPB.com.