Must-Read: CDC’s Comprehensive Safety Guide for 3D Printing Operations


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A new guide from the CDC should lead to safer 3D printing [Source: CDC]

The CDC has issued a lengthy guide for 3D print safety, something that all 3D printers operators should read.

Safety has been a big concern at this publication, as it has largely been ignored by participants and manufacturers for many years. Only recently has safety risen as a priority, and we have slowly started to see safety features beginning to appear in device designs and material compositions.

However, for those new to the technology it is not easy to determine the best safety practices. Sellers of 3D printers almost never mentions safety practices or features (because sometimes there are none), and this can leave the operator without enough information to safely operate their equipment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently published a comprehensive guide regarding the safe use of 3D printing technology, titled “Approaches to Safe 3D Printing: A Guide for Makerspace Users, Schools, Libraries, and Small Businesses”.

This extensive forty-page guide is not only loaded with insightful information and recommendations but also constructed in a clear, straightforward language. Hence, anyone who uses this technology should be able to easily navigate the material and act accordingly.

The guide begins with a brief introduction to the most frequently used 3D print technologies, which helps the readers understand the source of safety concerns.

The prevalent risks associated with basic 3D printing, familiar to many Fabbaloo readers, are also discussed: FFF devices produce potentially dangerous emissions, necessitating ventilation; moreover, 3D printer resin is harmful and needs careful handling, along with proper ventilation.

According to a comprehensive report from the CDC, the safety concerns related to 3D printing extend well beyond the printing process itself. This more holistic view takes into consideration the actual circumstances of a workshop, classroom, or makerspace.

In scrutinizing the report, I became aware of several key points:

  • There are hazardous solvents involved in the cleaning of 3D printers
  • The activities following printing, such as the usage of solvents and filaments containing nano materials, represent a risk
  • The emission levels of FFF materials can differ quite substantially
  • Despite being highly flammable, certain solvents are regularly utilized
  • Some watersoluble support solutions contain sodium hydroxide, a corrosive substance
  • Loose clothing or hair could be caught in the mechanical elements of 3D printers
  • If multiple devices are operating simultaneously, noise levels might surpass safety limits
  • Work surfaces and clothing are susceptible to contamination

The report is richly detailed and provides great insight, making it a compelling read.

The guide also provides advice on how to set up a risk management plan, including use of the standard hierarchy of controls shown here.

One of the most interesting findings was a specially designed cooling vent for FFF toolheads. Normally these are used to blow cold air on freshly extruded material to freeze it as soon as possible, but they also tend to blow emissions all over the work area. The redesigned ducting was able to reduce emissions by a startling 98%!

This ducting was developed as part of a research paper back in 2020 for a MakerBot Replicator+, so it is not suitable for today’s equipment. However, the fact that it is possible to design such a duct is important — but I have yet to see any 3D printer manufacturer make use of that approach.

The guide provides several similar examples of how risks can be minimized, and it’s surprising that these haven’t been implemented by 3D printer manufacturing companies, especially those who are selling directly to educational institutions.

Without a doubt, this report is the most thorough and helpful safety document that has been produced for 3D printing operations. I highly advise anyone who operates 3D printers to devote some time to thoroughly read the material and follow its recommendations.

Via CDC (PDF)

Original source

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“Why did the 3D printer go to therapy? Because it had too many layers of unresolved issues!”


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GCode-Guru

Meet the mastermind behind NozzleNerds.com: GCode-Guru, a 3D printing wizard whose filament collection rivals their sock drawer. Here to demystify 3D tech with a mix of expert advice, epic fails, and espresso-fueled rants. If you've ever wondered how to print your way out of a paper bag (or into a new coffee cup), you're in the right place. Dive into the world of 3D printing with us—where the only thing more abundant than our prints is our sarcasm.

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