From: Daniel C Herrick <herrickd**At_Symbol_Here**MIT.EDU>
Subject: FW: [DCHAS-L] [DCHAS-L] MakerSpaces,Laser Cutters, 3D Printers
Date: Thu, 21 Apr 2016 01:26:40 +0000
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: 5045A69D3478574D8F28F8600633D876014A1BD742**At_Symbol_Here**
In-Reply-To <5045A69D3478574D8F28F8600633D876014A1BD6E0**At_Symbol_Here**>

Greetings all,

Some thoughts in response to two recent postings about Makerspaces, 3D printers, and laser cutters - an area of work we have been thinking of as EHS Issues of Digital Fabrication.

At MIT there are not formal policies regarding 3D printer use, type of feed stock they may use, ventilation requirements etc.

I know of 3 published articles regarding 3D printer emissions [Stephens; Kim; Azimi] and I have seen 2 other sets of results that are as yet unpublished. These studies of 3D printer emissions have focused mainly on the fused deposition modeling (FDM) technology; there are at least 5 other major technologies and many variations on these types. Each of these technologies have varied and different safety concerns that should be addressed.

Emissions monitoring results so far do indicate that in most if not all cases 3D printing emits ultrafine particles and VOCs. Amounts and types of each vary widely based on: printer technology/type and therefore feed stock material; timing within print cycle; printer enclosure status; process temperature(s); size of part being printed; etc etc etc. As a note, there are also published studies of ultrafine particulate emissions from regular desktop printers [He], cooking of food [See], and burning candles [Pagels] (all references at end of email, and these are just a quick representative sample).

When we have presented on Makerspaces, our answer to when local exhaust ventilation is required for 3D printers has been that since emissions data is still scarce, we must use our professional judgement based on certain factors that we either know or can find out. These factors include:
existing general ventilation / air exchange in the room, plus size of room;
type of printer to be used and therefore type of 3D print technology in use and type of feedstocks in use;
location of and total number of 3D printers in room;
whether the printer is fully enclosed or not;
frequency of printer use and occupancy of room while printer is in use;
etc etc etc.

This is not a simple hard-and-fast answer. The level of concern about an open-sided FDM 3D Printer using ABS that is in use at least 12 hours per day in a 10?x10? office (closet?) with no ventilation where someone sits during working hours is different than the level of concern about a closed-sided FDM 3D Printer using PLA that is sometimes used as much as 3 hours per day in a 3000 sq ft shop space with good general ventilation where there is intermittent occupancy. If I encountered the first situation, I?d ask them to move the printer somewhere else. If that same 3000 sq ft space had 10 open-sided printers instead of 1 closed-sided one and was going to be used all day by elementary and middle school kids, the level of concern might be different again.

So far as conducting air monitoring of 3D printing and sharing results: a project among multiple universities to perform monitoring in a systematic way and/or share results (and/or publish?) sounds like an exceptional idea, and also one that might take considerable organizational energy. Another interesting longer term goal could be finding a way to engage with the manufacturers of these 3D printers (and other digital fabrication devices) around safety concerns.

Some 3D printing technologies require deposition of a resin support layer, which must be removed after manufacture so that only the desired 3D-printed part remains. This removal of the resin is sometimes done using a parts washer bath, which often uses a caustic (pH ~12) surfactant solution to dissolve the resin support layer. Areas which use this parts washer bath must therefore have proper user training, PPE, waste disposal etc. for chemical use. If the area in question has traditionally been a ?wet lab? with chemicals then users should be well aware of this ? but often 3D printers end up in design studios or robotics/electronics labs or the library or other areas where users are unfamiliar with chemical hygiene requirements because they may have always thought (perhaps correctly) that they had no chemical use. Well?maybe they didn?t before, but they do now, and must be trained accordingly.

At MIT there are not formal policies regarding laser cutter ventilation. We strongly encourage direct ducting to a fan on the roof which meets the static pressure requirements stipulated by the manufacturers (often 6? of static pressure, which often requires a special fan or an in-line booster fan). We have labs using the stand-alone fume extractor units. Some labs have reported no problems with these. Keeping up with filter changes seems quite important for the efficacy of these units.

I was lucky enough to participate in a small MIT EHS group that looked in to some of these areas last year and gave presentations at AIHce, CSHEMA, and also a webinar through Tulane; the link for that webinar recording is .

Given the rapid adoption of digital fabrication technologies on campuses and throughout society, all of this information is subject to (rapid) change.

Please feel free to contact me off list for more discussions of this interesting topic.



3D Printer emissions:
Stephens et al, Atmospheric Environment 79 (2013) 334-339
Kim et al, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2015, 49 (20), pp 12044?12053 943BIJieclq-Iwz_WDOE6GpZlb-6cEi2cb3coLixY&e=
Azimi et al, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2016, 50 (3), pp 1260?1268

A tiny sampling of other emission data:
regular office printers: He et al, Environ. Sci. Technol. 2007, 41, 6039-6045
cooking: See & Balasubramanian, Aerosol and Air Quality Research, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 82-92, 2006
candles: Pagels et al, Journal of Aerosol Science, 2009, vol 40:3, pp.193-208

Daniel C. Herrick, CIH
Senior EHS Coordinator
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Department of Mechanical Engineering
email herrickd**At_Symbol_Here**
phone 617-253-2338
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room 3-449g
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307

Begin forwarded message:
From: "Stuart, Ralph" >
Date: April 14, 2016 at 2:21:57 PM EDT
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Safety Concerns/Policy --3D Printers
Reply-To: DCHAS-L >

DCHAS members may have information to supply to this inquiry from a sister e-mail list. This is a big question on many campuses (tip: look in your libraries for maker spaces) and it would be good to help collect this information into something useful to the EHS community as a whole.

- Ralph

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Gladle, Michael" >
Subject: [SAFETY2] Safety Concerns/Policy --3D Printers
Date: April 14, 2016 at 8:33:03 AM EDT

Good Morning Everyone,

We are seeing more and more 3D printers on campus and trying to address safety concerns. I would be interested in receiving feedback on how you are addressing 3D printers for those institutions having them. Please respond to the following questions and send to me directly or via listserv. I would be more than willing to share the results with everyone.

Do you have a policy in place regarding use and type of feed stock(s) allowed?

Are the printers ventilated via local exhaust, exhaust air filtered and introduced back into the space or just general room ventilation?

Have you conducted any air monitoring for vapors/fumes/particles for the various feedstocks e.g. ABS, PLA, etc.?

Would you be willing to share any of the monitoring results?

Thank you in advance for your response. Please call me if you would like to talk off-line, my contact information follows.



Michael A. Gladle, MPH, CIH
University of Delaware
Department of Environmental Health and Safety
222 South Chapel St., Room 132
Newark, DE 19716
O# 302-831-1435
C# 302-690-2751

This e-mail is from the SAFETY2**At_Symbol_Here** list.
Archives of list discussions can be found at

Begin forwarded message:
From: "Wawzyniecki Jr, Stefan" >
Date: April 13, 2016 at 10:19:16 AM EDT
Subject: [DCHAS-L] MakerSpaces,Laser Cutters, 3D Printers
Reply-To: DCHAS-L >
To all-

I have queried a few peers on how their institutions are addressing Maker Spaces, and other installations involving Laser cutters, 3D Printers, and other devices, some of which are usually associated with shops ( milling machines, drill presses) but are now being situated in non-traditional spaces- residential halls, and library spaces.

Do any of your institutions have formal policies regarding such installations?
Are you requiring exhaust ventilation for the laser cutters, or allowing the use of fume extractors? Do you ever vent outside the room exterior wall, or require roof top exhaust?

What about 3 D Printers- vented?
And the chemicals -I have discovered printers in computer labs, with insulated coolers used for chemical storage for the cleaning of the devices.

Thanks for feedback.

Stefan Wawzyniecki, CIH, CHMM
University of Connecticut

Previous post   |  Top of Page   |   Next post

The content of this page reflects the personal opinion(s) of the author(s) only, not the American Chemical Society, ILPI, Safety Emporium, or any other party. Use of any information on this page is at the reader's own risk. Unauthorized reproduction of these materials is prohibited. Send questions/comments about the archive to
The maintenance and hosting of the DCHAS-L archive is provided through the generous support of Safety Emporium.