If you’re a 3D printing enthusiast or professional, you may have wondered, “Do I need an air purifier for 3D printing?” Although you may not consider printing dangerous, heating plastic filaments in the FDM printing process emits fumes you do not want to breathe in. Here’s everything you need to know about the gases and particles produced by the printing process and why you need an affordable air purifier for 3D printing.
3D Printing Fumes and Particles
As plastic filaments are heated, they naturally emit fumes into the air. These vapors comprise a type of gas known as VOCs or volatile organic compounds. While some individuals feel that printing at lower temperatures reduces the concerns connected with fumes, the truth is that many common FDM filament materials begin generating VOCs well below the temperatures required to make them malleable enough for printing.
Even more concerning is that FDM printing generates ultrafine particles, or UFPs, which are minute airborne particles. UFPs can enter the bloodstream via the lungs and travel throughout the body. UFP exposure has been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer and heart disease.
Does the choice of filament and printer make a difference?
Not all 3D printer filaments are the same. Filaments emit varying degrees of emissions due to their varied material qualities. ABS and PLA, for example, produce considerably variable levels of VOCs and UFPs. ABS produces UFPs at a pace of around one order of magnitude more than PLA. Nonetheless, PLA filament is not without risk since it is still rated as having a high UFP emission rate. Nylon, another ubiquitous filament material, is rated as being roughly as dangerous as ABS.
Interestingly, research has revealed variety within each unique type of filament. According to a 2015 study, spools of the same material obtained from different providers produced significantly varied VOCs and UFPs. This variation happened even when the filament spools were tested on the same 3D printer at the same temperature. The study also discovered that it takes between 10 and 30 minutes for UFP levels in a room to recover to normal after the printing procedure.
To some extent, the printer you choose influences how many fumes and UFPs you’ll be exposed to. Vents are commonly found in industrial 3D printers. Regrettably, most low-cost home 3D printers do not include vents. As a result, home 3D printing enthusiasts are frequently exposed to higher amounts of VOCs and UFPs than professionals who use 3D printers regularly.
How to 3D Print Safely
3D printing is a fun hobby and an essential component of many manufacturing enterprises. The key to addressing the issues raised by 3D printer emissions is to make a few changes to keep you safer. One simple change you can make is to print in an open area with ample airflow. This prevents the gases and particles produced by the printing process from concentrating. Although it is not a complete answer, you can use PLA instead of ABS or nylon whenever possible because it emits fewer emissions.
However, if you genuinely want to protect yourself from harmful airborne particles, consider purchasing an air purifier for 3D printing. Employing the correct air purifier can assist in capturing both the gases and particles produced by 3D printers. It is critical, however, to choose the best air purifier for the job.
What Makes a Good 3D-Printed Air Purifier?
The most important aspect of the best portable air purifier is its carbon and HEPA filtration. This is critical because neither filter can eliminate all the emissions from 3D printing. These are some of our best picks for 3D printing hobbyists and pros who operate with non-vented machines.
Leave a Reply