View Full Version : How about fumes melted plastics and ventilation/healt issues?

09-21-2015, 06:52 AM

I have a CNC and some times I am thinking about building or buying a 3D printer, or converting my CNC to a 3D printer. What I know about plastics is that they are releasing dangerous fumes and some unpleasant smell when heated up to melting point. How about you? Have you ever wondered what will happen over time to you, or your family? Are you using any protection or make sure you have a well ventilated 3D printer? Or you simply don't care? I am serious, there seems to be very little discussion about health and environment issues regarding 3D printing, and looking for information seems hopeless. Those who sell 3D printers don't have any interest in warnings, that might have a negative effect on their business, same is true for those who sell filaments.

The reason for asking is that I am using my CNC in a home office and hobby room environment today, and while the noise is not that pleasant, the material I am milling is quite friendly because the chips produced during the milling is well controlled and kept inside the machine, does produce very little dust (of course, I have it partially covered), and definitely no fumes. If I invest in a 3D printer I want to use it in the same environment and under the same conditions, which is running a whole day without seriously disturbing my family or risking my, or my family's health. I would hate to invest in a machine and then discover I can't use it. Am I too concerned? What is your opinion about this?

09-21-2015, 07:49 AM
This all depends on the materials you are printing.

I like to use an enclosed chamber (heated is great for ABS and Polycarbonate), and put one of these in there:

Holmes® Mini Tower Air Purifier at HolmesProducts.com (http://www.holmesproducts.com/air-purifiers/HAP3000UV-TU.html)

09-21-2015, 11:20 AM
That will get rid of dust but not fumes. An active carbon filter might but I'm not sure.

09-21-2015, 06:01 PM
There have been some concerns voiced in scientific journals about toxic nano-particles being emitted by these machines, with ABS being of particular concern. Since this is a new process, there hasn't yet been much study of this, but if you're putting one in your family's living space, it would be best to err on the side of caution. Nanoparticles Emitted from 3D Printers Could Pose a Risk - IEEE Spectrum (http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/nanotechnology/nanoparticles-emitted-from-3d-printers-could-pose-a-risk)

09-22-2015, 03:03 AM
Thank you very much. That's exactly how I feel and why I am concerned. While 3D printers for general hobby use and nano knowledge about particles is fairly new, melting plastics and the risks attached to emitted fumes is not new at all, so I am a bit surprised that there is so little data about the risks. Everybody is talking about 3D printers in every home being the future and that it will revolutionize our life and how environmental friendly it is to be able to manufacture spare parts or almost whatever we want/need in our home and how good that is for the global environment because off less needs for transport and packing and so on, but is it really that environmental friendly if the process releases toxic fumes in an environment where it can not be handled properly and if the machines are used by amateurs who neither care about nor have the proper knowledge about the risks? Isn't it going to be an environmental bomb causing more harm than good and instead of improving our life quality it is going to lower it? People working in factories have fought for many years to improve working conditions and be able to avoid the hazards with chemicals and now, suddenly that is no longer valid? I don't understand this, and the more I think about the less I want one.

Yes, it depends on the type of plastic, at least that's what we keep hearing, but PLA is not suitable for anything other than small toys and figures and as soon as you want to make something durable you need to use at least ABS, or nylon and both of those are VERY toxic when heated and melted and definitely release dangerous fumes. I don't know much about nano particles, but I know benzene is very dangerous to inhale and I really don't believe a cheap 50$ ionizer will solve that and filter it out. If it would be that simple then those machines would be in every factory and workshop by now and no personal protection and expensive ventilation systems would be needed.

I am not against technology or experimenting, quite the opposite, I am very interested in new technology, but I am also evaluating risks before I say hail to something which might be very risky.

01-23-2016, 07:32 AM
I know this thread is over 3 months old but there are a couple of things that should be cleared up for future readers. The idea that PLA can only be used for toys and small figures is not correct, PLA is actually a lovely material to work with and for most applications below 60C is perfectly suitable and it takes a thread great.

Another thing worth mentioning is that are also newer modified PLAs available that have come on the the market recently that brings the properties closer to that of ABS (i.e. polymaker polymax).

Ionisers should never be used in any circumstances if you are worried about health concerns, they produce ozone an extremely strong oxidiser that if inhaled is hugely carcinogenic.

Don't get me wrong ABS and nylon printing is not good for you but if you are using high quality PLA and not the cheapest rubbish you can get from china I think that the health concerns are minimal when compared to air pollution from living in a large city. I mean does anyone worry about the vaporising and boiling off of coolant and cutting fluid used in lathes and mills?