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May 29, 2017

Is 3D Printing Safe?

A decrease in price and an increase in interest in three-dimensional (3D) printers have resulted in more of them in the workplace and in homes. However, questions surfacing about potential health effects of using this technology.

New research published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (JOEH) has found that common filaments used in 3D printers can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) during the printing process. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, excessive exposure to VOCs can lead to eye, nose and throat irritation; headaches; loss of coordination; and nausea.

In the abstract of the study, authors Szymon Wojty?a, Piotr Klama, and Tomasz Baran noted: “Three-dimensional (3D) printing is gaining popularity especially due to the fact that this is a rapid prototyping and small-scale manufacturing technology. Printers have numerous applications in various industrial sectors, including electronics, medicine and medical science, consumer products, aerospace and defense, automotive industry, entertainment and education. The discussed technology, also known as additive manufacturing, makes it faster and easier to produce complex objects with intricate designs.”

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