3D Printer Ventilation. Ventilate Your 3D Printer Correctly!

by Mike Brooks | Last Updated: March 4, 2022

Most 3D Printing enthusiasts barely give due attention to 3D printing safety needs. Moreover, hobbyists often think of severe accidents like printer explosions or fire outbreaks when raising 3D printing safety issues.

3D Printer Ventilation

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However, the primary 3D safety concern lies in the emissions of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and or UFP (Ultrafine particles).

3D printers use plastic filaments like ABS and PLA to create products.

The plastic filaments emit VOCs and UFPs fumes during the printing process into the ambient air. These chemicals are poisonous, especially if inhaled or ingested in large quantities.

The chemicals released by plastic filaments as emissions contain:

These three chemicals are dangerous, considering that the 3D printing process can take between 4-8hrs.

This article will look into safe 3D printing using ventilation.

What Does 3D Printer Ventilation Refer To?

3D printer ventilation refers to mechanisms to tackle harmful fumes produced during the 3D printing process.

The most natural way of 3D printer ventilation is to use the printer in a spacious room with open windows that circulate adequate air in the room.

A well-ventilated 3D printing room ensures that the small amounts of harmful fumes the printer emits are taken care of by the fresh air circulating in the room.

Ventilation System for 3D Printer

The best way of confronting 3D printing fumes harmful to humans is to install a functional ventilation system.

You can put an enclosure around your 3D printer to ensure the chamber remains sealed and airtight.

Then connect a vent or a suction pipe from the chamber leading outside. The vent takes harmful fumes outside the printing room.

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Some hobbyists use a window fan to blow away the fumes outside the room. Thus, they put the 3D printer next to the window during the printing process.

The fan and the suction pipes help remove plastic emissions from the room.

The use of a HEPA filter helps remove toxic fumes. However, deploying a carbon filter helps remove smaller particles that HEPA filters won’t.

3D Printer Ventilation Requirements. Do You Need Ventilation for a 3D Printer?

Yes! You need a ventilation system for a 3D printer. Health and safety concerns remain a priority as 3D printers inevitably emit toxic fumes from plastic used during the printing process.

Additionally, ABS and Nylon filaments emit high levels of styrene, a chemical known to cause headaches, fatigue, and drowsiness. It can cause cancer in the long run if inhaled and ingested in large quantities.

Furthermore, if you’re using a giant 3D printer, you require more ventilation than a small 3D printer.

For this reason, you certainly require ventilation for a 3D printer to keep safe and healthy. The use of 3D printer enclosures connected with air extractors, window fans, and air purifiers comes in handy.

How to Ventilate Your 3D Printer Properly

3D printer professionals need to ventilate their 3D printers properly owing to the large number of toxic fumes the large 3D printers emit.

Firstly, it would be helpful if you chose a spacious and open space like a garage for your 3D printing. Be sure to seal the 3D printer chamber tightly so that heated air doesn’t escape the chamber during printing.

The next thing you want to do is connect a vent from the sealed and airtight chamber to the outside if you’re working in a closed room.

Also, you can install a high-efficiency particulate air purifier (check at Amazon) to tackle the small amounts of fumes that may find their way out of the ventilation system.

How Do You Get Rid of 3D Printing Fumes?

There are several effective ways you can get rid of your 3D printing fumes to secure your health from hazardous fumes emitted during a 3D printing session.

a) Use Air Purifiers

If your home doesn’t have enough space for storing and using your 3D printer, you can seek to install air purifiers in your room and still 3D print safely. A good example is the charcoal air purifier.

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Activated charcoal purifiers boast of high carbon content. It is known to remove volatile organic compounds and odors during 3D printing.

The manufacturers tend to design a small air purifier fitted with filters to maximize efficiency.

More importantly, the air purifiers work by absorbing high efficient particulate air. Thus, leaving the printing environment safe from toxic fumes.

b) Choose a Good Printing Location

Open spaces like garages and workshops are the best place for your 3D printing endeavors. A spacious 3D printing environment results in fumes readily diffusing in the larger environment posing little danger.

It is because these spaces are separate from your homes. Being separate from your home means other family members remain safe from 3D printer fume exposure. Also, they are not prone to noise from the printing.

c) Use a 3D Printer Enclosure

The market offers 3D printers that come with enclosures. So, you can procure a 3D printer with an enclosure or create your enclosure using locally available and cheap material.

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The airtight enclosure equipped with filters seals the 3D printer chamber helping it trap ultrafine particles and volatile organic compounds released during printing.

Still, the negative pressure enclosure ensures the print bed temperatures are stable for high-quality 3D printed parts.

d) Air Filters

Air filters located inside the 3D printer enclosure absorb contaminated air in a filtration system that leaves the printer surrounding air in a safe state.

Additionally, each type of plastic filament requires a specific air filter. Luckily, the market doesn’t have a shortage of air filters.

There are two common types of air filters in the market.

The Carbon filter and HEPA filter prevent the VOCs and UFPs from escaping into the air.

e) Air Extractors

It would be helpful to install the twin reversible airflow extractors directly on a 3D printer. Air extractors help the 3D printer maximize its impact.

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Also, air extractors work by sucking in heated air from around the printer. Air is then passed through a filter to remove toxic particulates.

More significantly, the air extractor replaces the removed toxic particulate with cool air from the environment.

f) Fume Venting

Some 3D printing enthusiasts consider venting fumes to the outside world to remove them from the printing surroundings.

However, you need to note that professionals don’t recommend this practice as an effective ventilation system.

Remember, you have a duty not to pollute the environment.

Do You Need Ventilation for Printing PLA?

Manufacturers create PLA filament using natural plants like maize and sugarcane. PLA produces sweet-smelling fumes during the 3D printing process. For this reason, hobbyists mistake it to be perfectly breathable.

However, put under massive temperatures of 200 degrees Celsius, PLA emits nanoparticles, VOCs, and UFP.

Therefore, it would be helpful to consider using a ventilation system for PLA. Preferably, a fume hood.

Having said so, PLA remains the safest plastic filament around, considering it emits little fumes. Don’t forget small amounts of fumes inhaled over an extended period can cause health problems.

Is It Safe to Have a 3D Printer in Your Room?

3D printing filaments emit smell and toxic fumes when subjected to high temperatures. Therefore, you’re advised not to 3D print in your room, more so, your bedroom.

However, if you’ve installed an excellent ventilation system (check at Amazon) with a HEPA filter, you can do it.

Please put in a fume hood or a 3D enclosure to prevent nanoparticles from plastic fumes from spreading out into the room.

Can You Use a Resin 3D Printer Indoors?

Yes, you can! However, professionals highly recommend using a low VOC and odorless resin type. Furthermore, you’ll have to install an effective ventilation solution for the emission of fumes, however, low the emissions.

Notably, most professionals would not recommend using resin printers in living spaces but unoccupied areas.

The resin material composition and how users treat it in the SLA 3D printing process release irritants and pollutants.

Resin chemical is irritating to the skin and respiratory system. For this reason, you must not expose your skin to resin. Skin exposure to resin causes rashes that can turn into allergies.

SLA 3D printing emits resin fumes. These fumes can cause severe respiratory issues if they get into your lungs.

Equally, resin chemicals are harmful when exposed to your eyes or mouth unless the resin has a non-toxic tag from the manufacturer; never expose youth eyes and mouth to it.

Moreover, the resin is not considered eye or food-safe and can easily cause permanent harm to vital body organs.

For these reasons, please choose an open outdoor space when using resin during SLA 3D printing.

How Toxic Is 3D Printing Resin?

The SLA 3D printing technology creates products faster than other forms of 3D printing like the FDM or Fused Deposition Modeling.

The process involves using UV light to harden liquid resin rather than the layer by layer process of 3D model creation witnessed in additive methods.

However, UV resin remains a highly toxic chemical. It is toxic for both people and the surrounding environment. Apart from humans, the UV resin is harmful to animals and the aquatic ecosystem that hosts fish and sea life.

Notably, limit contact with the substance by wearing appropriate gloves and especially recommended clothing. Remember, resin’s chemical properties make it lethal, so restrict skin contact with it.

Sadly, most people are unaware of resin’s toxicity, making them exposed to harm. The aquatic ecosystem is not spared either with the harmful levels of resin.

As such, it would be helpful if you refrain from disposing of resin in the rivers, lakes, and seas where fish and other aquatic creatures dwell.

Resin severely interferes with the nervous system of fish and sea creatures leading to mass loss of sea lives.

Conclusion

3D printer professionals need to enlighten hobbyists on the dangers caused by plastic filaments and UV light during the 3D printing process.

Plastic filaments used in FDM and resin in the SLA 3D printing emits harmful and highly toxic fumes that compromise the safety and health of the hobbyists.

Proper ventilation and conscious resin disposal are necessary lessons when learning 3D printing.

Michael Brooks is the founder of M3DZone.com. He sees a very bright future for 3D printing that's why his mission is to try and make this easy for everyone. Discover your hidden talent and creativity. You can follow here: Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest.