Rather than providing specific guidance I can outline how I would approach the assessment. First, I would look at the printing technology used in the exact model you want to install. There are many technologies in use and the two most popular are:
- heat treated (“melted”) polymer, most often ABS
- laser sintered powder, most often metal
I would consider emissions from each process. Heated ABS would emit vaporized plasticizers and products of thermal decomposition of ABS. In addition, the finishing process (smoothing of the ridges) may emit plasticizers and decomposition products of ABS (thermal treatment) or solvent vapors from either dipping in solvent bath or vapor treatment. The solvent used here is often acetone.
The metal sintering process would emit metal vapor/powder and metal oxide powders. I would look at the specific metals used for clues about toxicity and flammability hazards.
A printer using polymer melt would probably require an enclosure vented outside (like a ducted chemical fume hood). A metal sintering printer may be OK with a HEPA enclosure, but you need to consider pyrophoric properties of metal dust in the HEPA filter. If self-ignition is possible you would have a virtual forge inside the filter given the forced air flow.
Slawomir Janicki, Ph.D.
Can anyone share guidance they provide for installation and use of a 3-D printer?
Recommendations range from "use in a well-ventilated area" to housing in a HEPA-filtered encasement.
I don't have information on the size of the unit. It will be in a university art department so I assume fairly heavy use and varied feedstock.
Ralph North, CHMM
University of Wisconsin System
Office of Risk Management
780 Regent St.
Madison, WI 53715-2635
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