Researchers have that found that 3D printers spew tiny particles into the air as they operate, though the quantity and nature of these potentially toxic aerosols are poorly understood. A new study identifies a startling variety of these emissions, and the conditions under which they’re produced. Previous studies have already shown that small particle emissions are being released by desktop 3D printers, but scientists hadn’t performed controlled experiments to accurately detect and characterize the particles and chemicals associated with the printing. A newly published, two-year investigation to assess the impacts of desktop 3D printers on indoor air quality, conducted by scientists at UL Safety Chemical Safety and Georgia Institute of Technology, now overcomes these shortcomings. The results, published in two separate studies in Aerosol Science and Technology (here and here), were not encouraging; in tests, the researchers were able to identify hundreds of different compounds, some of which are known health hazards. These findings come at a time when these low-cost machines are increasingly appearing in commercial, medical, and educational settings. Marilyn Black, vice president and senior technical advisor at UL and a co-author of both studies, says her team’s findings should serve as a wakeup call, and they’re asking health researchers, scientists, and other institutions to investigate further. “Because of the potential health concern indicated in the early studies, we saw the opportunity to conduct a scientifically controlled laboratory research study to measure and characterize these emissions and understand why they occur and to evaluate their toxicity,” Black told… [Read full story]
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