3D Printer Enclosure & Indoor Air Quality

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Should you enclose your 3d printer to guard against volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and ultra fine particles (UFPs)? Expert reports say yes, if you are operating your printer in a poorly ventilated space.

3D printers are electronic devices that heat material to a melting point and as such, emit VOCs and UFPs. If one visualizes desktop 3d printers as small manufacturing machines, it becomes easier to accept that principles of worker and environment protection followed by industrial factories can apply to oneself and one’s home.

Objects that burn or heat are generally sources of VOCs. According to the American Lung Association, VOCs are “are gases that are emitted into the air from products or processes.”  Other sources include: Flooring, carpet, pressed wood products, varnishes, copiers, glue, cosmetics, deodorants, and dry-cleaned clothing.

Burning and heating objects usually produce UFPs as well. “Particles that are less than 100 nm [nano meter] in diameter are commonly defined as ultrafine.” link Cooking appliances, candle burning, and heating devices are a few of the other sources of UFPs.

3D printing has been researched for more than a decade. Information is available in reports outlining emissions from 3D printers. Excerpts from three reports and a blog post are included in this post.

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Photo credit: yoan carle