3D printers have gained momentum in the marketplace for rapid prototyping and manufacturing, especially in consumer, industrial, educational, healthcare and military environments. By 2024, the 3D printing market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 23 percent.
Despite its innovative applications, the use of additive manufacturing processes and 3D printers present traditional electrical and physical safety hazard considerations. The technology also poses a human health concern from the potential release of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) and ultrafine particles into the air during operation. The release of pollutants may affect indoor air quality and expose people to unexpected pollutants that may lead to adverse acute and chronic health concerns.
Few scientific studies have been performed to evaluate potential health risks and develop mitigative strategies for consumer and occupational environments. Chemical Insights’ Leadership Summit brought experts together to review current and future additive manufacturing techniques, and to discuss research on pollutant releases and effects on human health. As an Institute of Underwriters Laboratories, Chemical Insights, in collaboration with the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, shared our findings on the measurement and characterization of particles and chemicals released from fused filament fabrication printers. Our research addressed controlled measurement methodologies, particle size distributions, chemical releases and approaches for exposure assessments. International and government researchers also shared their efforts.
From our Leadership Summit, a consensus standard on testing and evaluating particle and VOC emissions from 3D printers, ANSI/CAN/UL 2904, was developed based on the research data and third-party contributions. Chemical Insights is continuing our 3D printing and filament research to include metal exposure and additional print technologies.