When it comes to manufacturing, additive or otherwise, safety should always be the number one priority. There is a lot of danger to be found when working with even additive manufacturing equipment. Heat is a common concern, as most additive manufacturing requires materials to be heated, and you always need to be careful with any moving parts, but there are other concerns as well centered around materials.
What Materials are Safe to Use When 3D Printing?
When it comes to safety, the nature of the printer is a big part of whether or not it is safe to print something. Many desktop, hobbyist 3D printers are relatively open. They usually only print molten materials that give off limited fumes when melted, typically thermoplastics (PLA, ABS, nylon polymers, etc.)
Thermoplastics do give off Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). VOCs include chemicals we use every day and even ingest, such as vinegar and alcohol, but the ones created by melting plastics can be hazardous to ingest, like formaldehyde. Ventilation is important if you are doing desktop 3D printing. Always stick to using filament from a reliable source and limit your time near the printer while it is working.
In industrial settings, the print area is much easier to contain, so while the same hazards are present, more can be done to mitigate risk. This also means that there are other options for safe 3D printed materials. Powdered materials can be sintered together layer by layer using an SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) method, for instance. The powders used include metal, polymers, and other materials that would be very dangerous to risk inhaling, but industrial settings and tools allow for proper containment and cleaning that keeps the 3D printing process and post-processing safe. Technology such as JawsTec’s HP Unpacking Station allows for products to be safely removed from the powder bed they were printed in.
At JawsTec, we seek to keep people and the environment safe for everything we print. All of our materials are vetted for safety in 3D printing and everyday use. Let us use our industrial 3D printing facilities to help you create high-quality, safe products for your next project.
Contact us for a 3D print quote today!