This summer, MakerBot took a major step towards safety by introducing the smart Clean Air System for its METHOD and METHOD X 3D printers, which features a dual filtration system made of a HEPA filter to protect against ultra-fine particles (UFPs) and an activated carbon filter for odors and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Clean Air offers a safe, seamless 3D printing experience for users of the METHOD platform, as the system’s smart-control features have been integrated directly into the printer’s workflow. Now, this advancement has been rewarded, as MakerBot announced that the Clean Air System with the METHOD X has received GREENGUARD Certification from global safety science leader UL.
Low-emitting indoor products and materials that achieve this important certification have been proven to meet some of the most exacting standards for third-party chemical emissions, and RIZE, Inc. was the only other machine manufacturer I’ve heard of in the AM industry to be GREENGUARD-certified, until now. GREENGUARD Certifications were given for the MakerBot METHOD, MakerBot METHOD X, and MakerBot SKETCH 3D printers when printing with the Stratasys subsidiary’s Tough material, and to the Clean Air System for the METHOD X using ABS, Nylon, and PC-ABS materials. This will allow MakerBot to improve industrial-level 3D printing in an office environment by offering extra protection against emissions.
We know desktop extrusion printers can produce some nasty byproducts, specifically VOCs and ultrafine particles UFPs, and emitting toxins that affect the air quality is the opposite of safe. But for some reason, not a lot of 3D printer manufacturers are really working to fix the problem, which gets in the way of mainstream consumer adoption. But MakerBot has been focused lately on initiatives focused on compliance, safety, and sustainability, such as testing its Replicator+ 3D printers with NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) in 2018 and, more recently, launching its fast-dissolving RapidRinse water soluble support material that negates the use of caustic chemicals in post-processing.
“Our goal with METHOD is to make 3D printing advanced engineering materials more accessible to engineers. Part of the challenge is to make it easier to print these materials in the office, home, and school,” explained MakerBot’s CEO Nadav Goshen. “Getting the UL GREENGUARD Certification for the MakerBot Clean Air with METHOD X shows that we can reduce 3D printing emissions from materials well below the maximum levels, a major step towards improving the 3D printing process.”
MakerBot’s Clean Air System uses its smart technology to automatically maintain the METHOD platform printers’ environment, taking into account the model material, ambient conditions, and chamber temperature. Additionally, the 3D printers include several features that make the print process safer, like the SKETCH system’s built-in particulate filter, and enclosed build chambers that prevent users from accessing the build plate during printing.
For the GREENGUARD Certification, the Clean Air System with the METHOD X printer was tested in a controlled exposure chamber, according to ANSI/CAN/UL 2904.1, for both UFPs and VOCs. MakerBot says the results from other research tests show that these emissions were much lower than the maximum levels, with total VOCs reduced up to 64% and total UFPs reduced up to 100%. Additionally, with the Clean Air System, some concerning chemical emissions when printing with ABS materials were reduced, and the company also says that all “chemicals” of concern had estimated office concentrations, and emission rates, lower than the recommended levels.
I’m hopeful that we’ll start to hear about more 3D printer manufacturers putting safety at the forefront and working towards GREENGUARD Certification!
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