What is the best way to eliminate or reduce fumes during 3D printing?

3D printing is a technology that allows for the creation of physical objects by putting down layer upon layer of material. While this is done to create physical objects, it also creates a lot of chemicals and fumes, which can be harmful to your health. To make 3D printing safer and more efficient, researchers have developed new techniques that help reduce these fumes and their effects on the human body.

Total Clean Air is the one-stop solution for safe and secure 3D printing. Our solutions have been designed to effectively eliminate harmful fumes, carcinogens, ultra-fine particles and other contaminants with unrivalled efficiency and remarkably low running costs.

Learn more about how Total Clean Air can benefit your business. Call 01737 924 700 for more information.

3D Printing Fume Extractors for Odours and Particles

3D printing is becoming more widely adopted across many industries as users embark upon this exciting journey of endless possibilities. With an increase in 3D printers comes an inevitable increase in the release of 3D printer fumes and particles into the air. As a result, researchers at Total Clean Air are creating solutions to help control these fumes and particles inside 3D printing workshops.

3d printing fume extractors are the ideal solution for 3D printing fumes or odours. Our state-of-the-art filtration systems remove gases, particles and contaminants from the air facilitating a clean work environment.

At Total Clean Air, we deliver innovative solutions for clean manufacturing environments and are committed to protecting your workplace.

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What fumes are created during 3D printing?

There are various studies on what fumes are created during 3D printing, but the two most common gases are Styrene and formaldehyde. Methyl methacrylate and caprolactam are also released based on the printing process. The amount of each released will vary depending on material. All these fumes can be harmful to human health in varying quantities.

Different types of odours are produced too, some are sharp and pungent while others are more chemical-like. The colour of the fumes can be an indication of the type of odour present and its source.

3D printing is an exciting technology that can be used for making a wide range of products. However, there are health risks associated with the levels and types of fumes released during the 3D printing process. Total Clean Air has innovative extractive solutions to eliminate fumes from the 3D printing process in your work area.

Particle Size and Composition of 3D Printing Fumes

A new study revealed that the particle size and composition of 3D printing fume is unique. The study was conducted by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in relationship with Stratasys and demonstrates that 3D printing has a quite different particulate profile compared to FDM (Fused deposition modelling), SLA (stereolithography apparatus)or sintering processes.

The results show that although many devices emit particles in 2-5-micron range, there is wide variability between manufacturers, models, material types, and even individual devices. Accurate measurements of the particle size and chemical composition of 3D printing fumes can assist in evaluating potential health risks. However, no matter how you look at it, a cleanroom or containment system is going to be a key component of your 3D printing facility.

Businesses that work with 3D printers need to ensure they have effective safety procedures in place that protect both their employees and the environment. This is where Total Clean Air comes in. We have developed solutions that minimise the effect of fumes in 3D printing facilities.

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Ultrafine Particles (UFPs) in 3D Printing Fumes

3D printing produces vapours that contain toxic volatiles or ultrafine particles. This is due to the aerosol effect between the molten filament and the surrounding air. The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in these fumes are highly toxic, harmful, and potentially carcinogenic.

The Ultrafine Particles (UFPs) in 3D Printing Fumes are released in the air and absorbed through our respiratory system. UFPs may harm human health when people breathe them in. Ultimately, Ultrafine Particles (UFPs) are a major environmental concern in life sciences, with their potential to cause adverse health effects upon inhalation.

Total Clean Air provides filtration technology used in both industry and consumer products to filter air of all sizes, including UFPs.

Should You Worry About 3D Printing Fumes?

With the increasing popularity of 3D printers, the opportunity to make anything from toys to medical devices in your own home has become real. The materials used in making these small machines are generally considered safe by their makers, but there are potential risks.

Print material safety is also an issue; the unique chemical composition of 3D printing materials can release dangerous gases when heated. The addition of acids and other known carcinogens to the mix multiplies the dangers of 3D printing for the public. Therefore production must be in a well-ventilated area with only essential personnel present.

Total Clean Air extraction systems can eliminate a good percentage of the fumes produced as a result of your printing process. We provide a turnkey solution that includes the carbon and/or HEPA filtration and enclosure systems, customised specifically to each customer.

How Harmful Are 3D Printing Fumes?

3D printers create a dense plume of extremely fine particulate matter. These particles can bypass the nasal mucosa and enter the lungs—this is how people are exposed to this material. Health effects are difficult to study, since these materials have no history of use that would allow us to predict how they behave in humans.
Scientists only know that some kinds of 3D printing materials are toxic enough to be handled with gloves, shower-safe, or must be disposed of as “dangerous goods.” About 70% of 3D printing companies report respiratory, skin, eye, or mucosal irritation from their products. There is evidence that many of these chemicals cause cancer and reproductive harm in laboratory animals.

Total Clean Air offers a complete and total fume extraction solution that will ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of everyone within your 3D printing facility.

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) Fumes in your home office or bedroom?

Are you concerned about the effects of ABS fumes in your facility? Whether it is 3D printing or laser engraving, a wide range of desktop 3D printers use ABS as their primary material. As a result, ABS fumes are now present in thousands of offices and homes all over the world. In fact, the continuous flow of ventilation air in nearly every room and space means you can breathe it in at any time of day or night, long after the printers have been unplugged.

Total Clean Air can solve the problem of ABS fume extraction by providing a cost-effective solution that takes you from fume extraction to fresh air in minutes.

General health risks when using 3D printer

The 3D printing process relies on a hand-operated dispenser or nozzle that repeatedly extrudes polymer particles. These processes also release toxic gases such as carbon monoxide and potentially carcinogenic emissions, including organic solvents used for maintenance of the machines. 3D printer operation can release significant amounts of ultrafine particles with potential health implications.

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Symptoms of Exposure to Styrene Fumes

Exposure to styrene fumes has been linked to a range of adverse health effects, including headaches, dizziness, and nausea. Styrene can trigger a negative reaction through the sense of smell, even at low levels. Here are some of the symptoms when an individual is exposed to styrene fumes.

Headache

Headaches can be the first symptom of styrene exposure. When styrene is inhaled, it can easily penetrate deep into lungs. Headaches caused by styrene exposure can be severe and may require treatment with prescription medication, cold medicine, or ibuprofen before being able to go back to work.

Drowsiness

Another common indicator of styrene exposure is drowsiness, followed by difficulty with balance and elimination. Other signs may include eye irritation; increased or decreased heart rate; headaches (mostly in the frontal regions); shortness of breath; nausea, and vomiting. These toxic effects are worse with high concentration exposure to fumes and with longer periods of styrene-fume exposure.

Feelings of fatigue

If you are working in a styrene-exposure environment, then you might be experiencing fatigue. Working with styrene can contribute to feelings of exhaustion and tiredness. However, it is possible to assess your exposure, and take steps to reduce the risk of negative health effects.
At Total Clean Air, our extraction technology cuts clean room operation costs and enhances worker comfort while reducing styrene exposure.

ABS Filament Fumes

Do you or your employees work around 3D printers? Do you know the potential health and safety risks to you and your workers?
ABS Filament fumes are typically mixtures of particles, VOCs (volatile organic compounds), and other particulate matter. The results of inhaling ABS filament fumes could be serious, with symptoms including coughing, wheezing and skin irritation.

Ways to mitigate risks arising out of 3D printer fumes

If you are in the 3D printing industry, protecting yourself from fumes is of paramount importance. Total Clean Air is at hand to provide you with fume extractors, which provide a high level of protection against biological contamination and fumes. Configured to suit both open areas and enclosures, these rooms can be used for any workspace.
At the same time, it is also important that you apply best practices when working with 3D printers. These practices are essentially your first line of defence against the risk of 3D printer fumes.

Best safety practices while 3D printing

Air extraction

Every 3D printer will produce some amount of smell/chemicals, you should always carry out your own risk assessment in accordance with the Control of Chemicals Hazardous to Health 2002 (COSHH) to conclude what are the risks and what are not. It has been proven that a Carbon or HEPA filtration air system makes a drastic difference in the environment around you. Air extractors provide a way to keep particles in the air flow – reducing 3D printing fumes.

Air quality monitor

Air quality monitoring is important for those in professions where air quality is important, such as pharmacists, lab technicians and others. Air quality monitor helps you to enhance the safety of your print job. Alerts you to the critical levels of VOCs in your printer enclosure, including odours, fumes, and smoke. Helps you to maintain product quality when printing with ABS filaments by identifying chemical levels that may cause harmful out-gassing (which may compromise part strength) or ruin the resin.

Portable Fume Extractors for 3D Printers

One major issue with common 3D printers is the production of particles which are breathed into the air and can cause lasting damage such as asthma, long-term cancer, and multiple allergies. Although 3D printers are used in industry-standard clean rooms in research labs, they are now being introduced to schools and homes where ventilation and proper maintenance cannot be guaranteed. To keep users safe, portable 3D printer fume extractors have been created that provide fast and easy solutions that can fit any workspace.
At Total Clean Air, our portable 3D printer fume exhaust unit is used to eliminate dangerous particles and fumes from your printer. They are extremely easy to set up, portable, and effective.
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Efficacy of HEPA Filtration and Other Methods for Capture of 3D Printing Fumes

HEPA filters represent a time-tested and highly effective means of capturing airborne particulate matter, including 3D printer fumes. HEPA Filter Technology is the most efficient means of removing particles from air, which also minimises costs while being safer for people.

Total Clean Air provides solutions that protect your workers’ health. HEPA Filtration for 3D Printing Fumes is one of the many products Total Clean Air offers to reduce 3D printing related emissions.

Our HEPA filters can capture common 3D printing particles and more than 99.7% of all particles larger than 0.3 microns in size, if you combine this with carbon filters which can capture a majority of VOCs.

Do HEPA Filters Work for 3D Printing Fumes?

HEPA filters can keep 3D printing fumes contained and protect you and others from exposure. Most commercial filtration systems are not effective at removing gaseous particles from the air. For these systems to be effective, the particle must first be converted into a liquid or solid state by condensation or coagulation. Filters that remove gaseous particles, such as carbon foam, have limited functionality with 3D printing because of the high level of volatility of these contaminants. Instead, HEPA filters remain one of the most reliable methods for capturing particulates.

What is a Carbon Filter? How does it work for filtering 3D printing fumes?

Carbon filters are a type of filter that uses activated carbon to remove nearly all the particles in your air. Applied to 3D printing, they could reduce exposure to particles and potentially make a 3D printer safer. Carbon Filters work best in rooms with controlled ventilation. These are typically clean rooms, meaning there is little humidity or dust in the air.

Flow Rate for 3D Printing Air Filtration

In 3D printing, you rely on the airflow to direct air in and out of the nozzle and through the heated build chamber. This process creates tiny particles of plastic called “fumes” that are harmful to breathe, both for humans working at the machine and those nearby. The only way to protect against it is with the use of the Total Clean Room solution.

With over 3 years of experience in air filtration R&D, Total Clean Air has developed superior filtration systems that enable you to safely produce your product faster and better than ever before.

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Contact us today and find out how we can best serve you on your next project.

Phillip Godden

Phillip Godden is the Founder & Chief/Executive Officer at Total Clean Air.

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