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ERIC Number: EJ1111854
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Sep
Pages: 2
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-2158-0502
3D Printing. What's the Harm?
Love, Tyler S.; Roy, Ken
Technology and Engineering Teacher, v76 n1 p36-37 Sep 2016
Health concerns from 3D printing were first documented by Stephens, Azimi, Orch, and Ramos (2013), who found that commercially available 3D printers were producing hazardous levels of ultrafine particles (UFPs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when plastic materials were melted through the extruder. UFPs are particles less than 100 nanometers in diameter. When inhaled, UFPs can reach the brain or enter the human blood system in less than one minute. Once in the blood stream, filtering organs such as the liver and spleen are the most vulnerable. Common diseases associated with absorption of UFPs include bronchitis, tracheitis, asthma, and some forms of cancer (Merlo & Mazzoni, 2015). The inhalation of UFPs has been compared to the detrimental effects of smoking. More recent studies have revealed additional information about the hazards of UFPs emitted from 3D printing. Merlo and Mazzoni (2015) provided a thorough review of research examining the health risks associated with 3D printing. They presented the Stephens et al. (2013) finding that printing with PLA plastics produced a UFP concentration of 3 to 30 times less than when using ABS plastics. PLA is a biodegradable plastic derived from plant-based resources like cornstarch and sugarcane, while ABS requires a higher melting point because it is made from oil-based resources. Recommendations for schools and teachers to operate 3D printers in a safe learning, and working environment are provided. This safety issue is difficult to diagnose at the present time due to the limited research currently available. However, based on the most recent studies, the authors do not believe that schools and teachers should be overly concerned about operating a 3D printer in their laboratory if it is using PLA material and is in a facility with a room-change ventilation rate of at least 3 volumes of the room per hour. Newer, enclosed style 3D printers often feature a built in filter for UFPs; however, it is better professional practice that all 3D printers only be minimally operated in adequately ventilated rooms. At the present time, the more prudent approach is to operate 3D printers in fume hoods or spray booths.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A