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New Study Suggests 3D Printing Fumes Can Be Harmful

1 February 2016, 7:32 pm EST By Christian de Looper Tech Times
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A new study, which examines 3D printers and their filaments, has been published, suggesting that certain filaments used can produce harmful fumes.  ( Sean Gallup | Getty Images )

3D printing has been gaining steam as a great way to quickly and easily make things, but it seems as though people shouldn't be too quick to adopt the relatively young technology.

A new study from U.S. and French researchers suggests that users of 3D printers should avoid using the technology in badly-ventilated rooms because of the fumes produced during the 3D printing process.

The study was published in Environmental Science & Technology.

The study basically measured the particles emitted by five 3D printers, using a total of nine different filaments. The study built on two previous studies but used more printers and filaments for its data. As mentioned, printing in well-ventilated areas is important, especially when using filaments like ABS, nylon and other similar materials.

The reason for this is that these plastics tend to emit a substance called styrene, which is possibly carcinogenic. Styrene is reportedly emitted at levels far higher than what the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment says is recommended, so the team behind the study says that caution should be exercised when using these filaments.

Those who prefer to use PLA filaments, however, don't need to worry as much. Printing with PLA produces a substance called lactide, which isn't considered to be toxic. According to the research, the printer model itself doesn't really matter as much as the filament being used.

The researchers say they plan on carrying out more tests in the future.

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