Is 3D Printing Toxic? Material | Fumes


3D printing is used widely for creating 3D models in the real world. It is beyond 3D modeling and rendering. Filaments are melted to create the 3D models. These filaments are made with many compounds. Some are toxic, and some are non-toxic. When the filaments are heated, their particles can convert into fumes and spread in the air. These can cause many reasons. So let’s see how these affect humans.

When using ABS, Nylon, and ASA as filaments in 3D printing, its fumes are really toxic, but its solid-state is not toxic. PLA filament and its fumes are considered non-toxic. But other filaments are not certified 100% as non-toxic, and those are used for many reasons.

3D printing can be toxic due to two components. Materials and fumes. Those are collecting from the environment and cause many problems in the human body. So before you use filament on a 3D printer, you should think about the toxicity of the material. Else you may have to suffer short-term and long-term health problems.

How Toxic is Produced in 3D Printer?

As you are well aware 3D printing is a result of filament melting and laying on each other. So let’s see how this effect will cause a toxic situation. Normally there are so many filaments in the market. We have to use the filaments for any purpose. Due to their many properties, filaments are used for different purposes.

Filaments can be toxic in two ways.

Using the Final Product

When we use 3d printing products long time, it can be harm full if it is made with harmful filaments.

You can observe it by using this graph. When the material temperature is increased, it will be constant until near 300 Celcius degrees. But when it increased more than that, its mass will be lost drastically. In this situation, material parts are highly added to the air due to high temperatures. Because it is semi-permeable media.

When you use the toxic filaments, their fumes also can be toxic. But if you use not toxic material, there is no problem.

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How 3D Printed Product is Toxic?

When we use a 3D printed material, its particles can be engaged with our body due to some activities. For example, 3D printed key rack will be touched regularly, and if it is toxic, it can leak into the body easily. So before you use the 3D printed product, make sure whether it is not harmful to you at any time.

These are the two main factors, how 3d printing affecting to the human in a bad way.

Inhaling the Fumes

When we do 3D printing, we have to melt the filament, and then it is mechanically laid on the layers. In this process, small particles can be left from the material due to the high temperature. This is the main and quick impact of the 3D printing problem.

When you open and inhale the toxic fumes, your eyes can be painful, and breathing problems can occur. Sometimes you will be vomit.

But in 3D printing, there is no such a situation. There is a small fume that can bear the user, but it is with problems.

How Fumes is Produced?

When the small amount of material is heated, its weight can be loo. The lost weight can transfer into the vapor and spread into the air. When the material is toxic, it can be really harmful when it is inhaled.

Temperature Vs., Mass loss

How to Measure the Fumes in 3D Printing?

3D printing fumes can be measured as below

  • TG-FTIR – Thermogravitic analysis (TGA) couples with FTIR)
    This will detect and identify the volatiles during the material degrdation or at temperature
  • TG-GCMS – TGA couples with a gas charomatograph followed by mass specrometer
    This will detect, identify and qualtify the volatiles during the material degrdation or at temperature

Before we estimate the harmfulness, we have to measure the fumes in the air. When the temperature is increased, its particles are dispersed to the environment. When the particles are increased, they may inhale to humans in high amounts.

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What are the Toxic and Non Toxic Filaments?

FilamentToxicity
PLANon-Toxic
PETNon-Toxic
PETGNon-Toxic
PVANon-Toxic
TPENon-Toxic
TPUNon-Toxic
Wood FilamentNon-Toxic
HIPSNon-Toxic
PP Non-Toxic
Non-toxic filaments
FilamentToxicity
ABSToxic Fumes
NylonToxic- Fumes
ASAToxic Fumes
Toxic filaments

3D printing is used filaments as a printing material. This printing material is generated fumes and small particles. When these flumes are inhaled, their danger can be increased. So let’s see each material and its toxicity as below with usage.

PLA

PLA is used in 3D printing widely. When you use PLA, you may think it’s toxicity. Let’s consider each by each how it affects healthiness.

  • PLA is stand for Polylactic Acid
  • Chemical formula (C3H4O2)n
  • Melt temperature – 180 – 230 °C

Is PLA Filament Toxic?

PLA filament is non-toxic filament. When PLA is heated, it provides non-toxic material called Lactide. PLA is made with natural substances such as maize and sugarcane. 3D printing using PLA is a really user-friendly and environmental friendly task because PLA is a biodegradable material.

TypicaPLA bottles left in the ocean would typically degrade in six to 24 months.

Is PLA Cancerous?

PLA is not a cancerous filament. Because PLA does not produce cany cancerous air such as styrene. PLA is a non-toxic material, and it uses sugarcane and maize for the manufacturing of the filament. The PLA fumes will not make any breathing problems and the cancerous situation at any time.

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Is PLA Good for Kids?

PLA is the best 3D printing filament for kids. PLA is not a synthetic material. It is a result of organic material. Due to this reason, its heated fumes do not include any harmful fumes such as styrene in ABS. So PLA is a really user-friendly filament for the kids and elders.

ABS

ABS filament is a sweet smell in the 3D printing process. ABS is widely used for the 3D printing process due to its strength, durability, and other properties. But ABS is not a real user-friendly material. ABS is a synthetic material. When it heats, it will produce more fumes. These fumes are not healthy.

  • ABS Stand for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene
  • Melt temperature – 105°C (221°F)
  • Chemical formula – (C₈H₈·C₄H₆·C₃H₃N)ₙ

Is ABS Fumes Toxic?

When ABS is a combination of 20% acrylonitrile, 25% butadiene, and 55% styrene when ABS is heated, styrene will be vapor, and it will spread in the air. Styrene is really harmful, and it can give headaches, drowsiness, and feelings of fatigue.

Is ABS Harmful?

ABS is not harmful without any heating. When it heats up, its styrene moves into the air, and that will be really harmful to the user. In-room temperature ABS will not provide any toxicity.

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What is the Most Toxic Flament ABS/PLA?

The most toxic filament is ABS when its printing process. ABS consists of styrene, and it can cause many breathable diseases. PLA is not a harmful filament when it is printing. PLA is an environmentally friendly filament, and it will not provide any harmful material.

PETG

Polyethylene terephthalate glycol, commonly known as PETG. It is widely used in 3D printing. PETG is a thermoplastic polyester that provides significant chemical resistance, durability, and excellent formability for manufacturing.

  • Melt temperature – 220°C – 235°C
  • Is PETG Toxic?

    High-end clear PETG gives off no odors or fumes. Natural PETG is not class clear is “usually” regrind from recycling. PETG is not toxic like PLA. This allows it to print objects that can sustain high temperatures, food-safe applications, and exceptional impact.

    Is PET Toxic?

    PET is the same as PETG. PETG is less brittle and more pliable than PET counterpart. It will not produce any toxicity and can be used for bottles and high-temperature usages.

    Is Nylon Filament Toxic?

    Nylon filament is the most toxic filament in 3D printing. Nylon is synthetic and the result of crude oil refine. Therefore it is with many substances. When heating up, these substances will emit into the air. By inhaling those, you can have many lung diseases.

    Read More About – 3D Printing Nylon Filament Material

    Is Nylone Food Safe?

    Nylon is food-safe. After the production, it will not emit any other harmful contaminants to the outside. Other food-safe filaments are PLA, ABS, PETG, and PET. But Nylon fumes are really toxic and should not inhale when printing.

    Food-safe filaments should not interact with the water and any other acidic media. So these are really important for the food industry.

    Is PVA Toxic?

    Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA) is nontoxic. It can be used for the day to day tasks due to its nonwater solubility and weather, heat, and light resistance.

    Is TPE/TPU Filament Toxic?

    TPE and TPU are not toxic filaments. Both have food contact approval. It will often be found in baby spoons and toddler cup spouts. This is because it is free from concern-causing chemicals

    Read More About – TPU Filament

    Is Wood Filaments Toxic?

    Wood Filaments are kinds of PLA. PLA filaments and fumes are harmless. It is not like other toxic filaments such as Nylon, ABS. So you can use wood filaments safely in 3D printing projects.

    Are HIPS Filament Toxic?

    HIPS filaments are high-impact polyester. This is a synthetic material, and it is a strong, durable, recycle, and non-toxic material that can be used for 3D printing widely.

    Is ASA Filament Toxic?

    ASA (Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate) produces toxic fumes when it is printing. So you have to use the printer in the ventilation area. There is styrene which is harmful as ABS. ASA and ABS are chemically very similar. ASA is resistant to UV.

    Is PP Filament Toxic?

    PP (Polypropylene) filament is non-toxic 3d printer filament. That is the second used material in the industry. PP is considered the safest plastic on the market. It is with high heat resistance. It can store food and water over and over again due to non-toxicity.

    Read More About – Safety Data Sheet

    How to Reduce the Toxicity in 3D Printing?

    No material is certified 100% as non-toxic and really user-friendly. But most are proved by the testings. There is a minimum level that we can open to the fumes in any material. But too much opening can cause many diseases. So when you 3d print, you can do it safely as follow to avoid the toxicity of the filaments.

    Keep Ventilation

    You can keep the 3D printer in the ventilation area. Please do not keep it in the bedroom. You can keep it near the window as it is open to ventilation. So if there are any harmful fumes, they will go out.

    Use a Cover

    You can create a cover for the 3D printer in order to fumes not let out. Keep the printing area sealed. So harmful fumes, gases will not leak. It is a good solution for the noise.

    Keep Away Until It Cool

    When the 3D printing is finished, do not open the printer opening suddenly. So you have to wait few minutes until it cools down. When it cools down fumes, small particles movements are also reduced. If you open the printer, suddenly you will open it directly to the fumes.

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    Ricky Louis

    Hey.. I am Ricky Louis, A professional graphic designer with years of experience in 3D modeling. I would like to share my knowledge with you.

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