More Testing Shows that 3D Printer Emissions are Still Problematic

Share this Article

3D printing, for all of its multitudes of benefits, also comes with some risks, which include the emission of ultrafine particles and gaseous pollutants. In a paper entitled “Characterization of particulate and gaseous pollutants emitted during operation of a desktop 3D printer,” a team of researchers tests eight different kinds of 3D printer filament for ultrafine particles and volatile organic compounds. All experiments were carried out on a Zortrax M200 3D printer, which has a single extruder, single heated plate, and sidewalls but no cover on the top. They tested ABS, ULTRAT, ASA, HIPS, PETG, GLASS (PETG mixed with fiber glass filings), PCABS and ESD.

The researchers 3D printed a small model that has been proposed by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). It consists of a square base and several small structures on the top and one side wall. The 3D printing was carried out in a stainless steel chamber with air set to 50% relative humidity and 23ºC. Air samples were taken to determine the chamber’s background concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and very volatile organic compounds (VVOCs). The 3D printer was loaded into the chamber, and samples were taken again one hour after loading.

Once the 3D printing started, the particle filter sampling started and continued until the printing was finished. VOCs were sampled one and two hours after the printing started, and VVOCs were sampled an hour and a half into the printing process. A single test was performed for each type of filament, except for ABS, for which different filament colors and printing temperatures were also tested. Each 3D printing job lasted for about four hours.

“High particle SERs were found during printing with ASA (blue), ULTRAT (ivory), ESD (black) and PCABS (ivory),” the researchers state. “Printing with GLASS (transparent), HIPS (yellow), and PETG (black) was associated with lower particle SERs. The particle emissions for the ABS_Red filament were evaluated under different printing temperatures. In addition to the default printing temperature of 275 °C for ABS, we measured particle emission at four different temperatures of 230 °C, 240 °C, 250 °C and 260 °C, respectively. Particle SERs for ABS decreased with lower extruding temperatures from 260 to 230 °C.”

The VOCs detected during the tests included caprolactam, 4-tert-butylphenol, 2,4-di-tert-butylphenol and DEP. They also detected several semi-volatile organic compounds, or SVOCs. Styrene was the major VOC, follwoed by other substances including benzaldehyde and ethylbenzene. Only a few VVOCs, including acetaldehyde, 2-propanol, acrylonitrile and alcohol were detected at low concentrations.

“To the best of our knowledge, we have demonstrated for the first time that the particles emitted from a desktop 3D printer are semi-volatile and are composed of SVOCs which are mainly thermoplastic additives and cyclosiloxanes,” the researchers conclude. “Our data, which supplement results from previous studies, lead to the conclusion that, regarding particulate and gaseous emissions, 3D printing technology and the chemical composition of filaments still need to be optimized.”

As the researchers pointed out, other studies have also measured the emissions given off by 3D printers, although most studies have focused on ABS and PLA rather than such a wide variety of materials. All of the studies point to the same conclusion – 3D printing is far from ideal when it comes to emissions, and steps need to be taken to minimize these chemicals and make the technology safer.

Authors of the paper include Jianwei Gu, Michael Wensing, Erik Uhde and Tunga Salthammer.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.

 

Facebook Comments

Share this Article


Recent News

3D Printing and the Circular Economy Part 7: the Viability of 3D Printing

What is Metrology Part 2: CMM



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

What is Metrology?

3D Metrology  What is 3D metrology? Metrology is the science of measurement. It establishes a common understanding of units, crucial in linking and understanding human activities. When we apply metrology...

Interview with Mei Ogata of JTL America on Testing for 3D Printing

As we move from prototyping to production, testing is becoming more and more important. Crucial in qualifying parts and materials, but also in establishing QA or developing new materials, testing...

Fast Things 8: The Shape Game and Mrs. Incredible

Imagine the answer to life, the universe, and everything is: donut. In a world of Fast Things, 3D Printing is the logical production technology. With our technology, you can go...

3D Printing News Briefs: June 8, 2019

In this week’s 3D Printing News Briefs, we’re talking about partnerships, new software and buildings, and a neat 3D printed miniature. Together, Evolve Additive Solutions and Evonik are developing materials...


Shop

View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.


Print Services

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our 3DPrint.com.

You have Successfully Subscribed!