!DOCTYPE html> Environmental Health & Safety: Occupational Safety: 3D Printer Guidelines
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Environmental Health & Safety

Occupational Safety Unit

3D Printer Guidelines

There has been an increase in the number and scope of use of 3D printers at the University in recent years. EH&S has assessed the use of the most prevalent type, which are the benchtop Fused Deposition Modeling/Fused Filament Fabrication 3D printers, such as those using ABS and PLA filaments. 3D printers can emit low levels of both ultrafine particles (UFP) and volatile organic compounds (VOC's).

3D printers requiring any materials other than ABS or PLA filament must be assessed by EH&S (call 275-3241) prior to use; some examples include:

  • metal powders
  • laser
  • UV light
  • biologics
  • corrosive bath to remove support material
  • New type of printer or novel use with additional potential hazards

Based on the EH&S assessments completed thus far and review of product literature, the following recommendations apply to 3D printers:

  • When possible, purchase enclosed models of 3D printers. Enclosed models have smaller particle plumes and therefore will reduce potential employee exposure. Preference should be given to enclosures with HEPA/VOC filtration capabilities.
  • Use in a well-ventilated area with limited occupancy; preferably a designated lab or student lab with a minimum of 6 air changes per hour.
  • Follow manufacturer's instructions and review safety data sheets (SDS's) for specific details on safe handling of printing materials and equipment.
  • If possible, place the printer close to the room ventilation exhaust grille to minimize airborne generated UFP/VOCs from stagnating or recirculating in the location's room air.
  • Because 3D printers operate for multiple hours for each printing, the room/lab should not be operated with an occupancy sensor. Operating with an occupancy sensor might allow the buildup of UFP/VOCs in the location because the ventilation rate may revert to the non-occupancy setting.
  • When 3D printers are running, users should not congregate around the printer for extended periods, which may disrupt the room ventilation from circulating air adequately.
  • No eating, drinking, applying cosmetics, or handling contact lenses in area of 3D printers.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after working with 3D printers.
  • Any visible surface dust in and around 3D printer should be cleaned using wet cloth/sponge/wipe or a HEPA vacuum (do NOT use dry cloth or sweeping which can get particles airborne).
  • Anyone working with 3D printers needs to have Hazard Communication training to review the safe handling requirements and content of safety data sheets.

Reference: NIOSH guide: Approaches to safe 3D printing | NIOSH | CDC (Nov 2023)

Contact EH&S at (585) 275-3241 or e-mail EH&S Questions.

This page last updated 4/17/2024. Disclaimer.