3D printing processes generate combustible dust, creating a set of risks EHS professionals should take into account.
Over the last few years we have witnessed the expansion of additive manufacturing using 3D printers from utilization as a prototyping tool to increasing implementation on the plant floor. The rapid evolution of this technology and its applications has created new challenges for process safety. These challenges involve understanding powder combustibility properties and how best to implement reliable inverting measures to prevent fires and explosions during powder processing and handling.
An EHS professional or employee in charge of reviewing and approving use of a 3D printer in their facility should be aware of the hazards associated when it comes to combustible dust.
The health impact of 3D printing is often overlooked. However, that there are health implications cannot be denied – after all, 3D printing involves the use of high temperature and pressure equipment and powdered materials. This article looks at some of the work on managing the risks.
Researchers from the Built Environment Research Group, operating out of the Illinois Institute of Technology, have been testing desktop 3D printers for VOC and other particle emissions. The research has involved testing various commercial desktop 3D printers, such as the UP BOX+ 3D printer, to see whether features like an enclosed chamber and HEPA filter efficiently reduce UFP and VOC emissions, which can be harmful to one’s health.
The results of the study, which were recently published in a report titled “Enclosure performance: Ultrafine particles (UFPs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) removal efficiency of desktop 3D printer enclosures,” show that the UP BOX+ adequately reduced emissions and particles. The printer’s enclosed chamber allowed for a 74% reduction in UFP emissions, and the HEPA filter system upped that percentage to 91%.