Why does my 3D printer Smell?
3D printers heat and form plastic filament, creating gas and microscopic particles during the process. These contaminants disperse around the printing environment, and into the air surrounding the system. Much is still unknown about the dangers 3D printing may pose to the airspace of the user – this is due to the large variety of consumable filaments on the market for 3D printing – however, fumes from plastics are often carcinogenic and can cause severe irritation to the respiratory system. This is outlined in HSE document PPIS13 Controlling Fume During Plastics Processing.
Certain filaments will smell notably more than others due to the material composition, and often even the pigment of the plastic.
What can I do to stop 3D printing smell and fumes?
Extraction, filtration and ventilation are key to removing airborne dangers from the 3D printing process. Expert extraction manufacturers BOFA have produced a range of 3D printer specific filtration units which capture and remove potentially harmful and irritating smog from the printer directly.
These specialist extraction systems, sit next to the 3D printer and capture pollution from the process with very little intrusion. Smaller systems feature a capture arm which can be posed and left to remove contaminants from the printing bay. Larger units connect directly to the 3D printer by means of a manifold or inlet connection.
BOFA ‘3D PrintPRO’ units feature a three stage filter setup to combat fumes and particles, exhausting clean, filtered air back into the room. The first stage, the ‘pre-filter’, removes larger particles from the system and captures them. This filter will need to be replaced the most frequently, but is also the cheapest. The main HEPA filter captures very small particles at a high efficiency, these are often the most dangerous particles, as although not visible to the naked eye, they can often cause the most damage to the lungs. Gases and smells are then captured in the third filter stage – the active carbon filter. Active carbon within the filter captures gases and absorbs it, thus removing the smells of the heated plastic. The HEPA and Carbon stage are combined together into single filter assembly, making it easy to change the filters and general upkeep.
Which 3D PrintPRO extractor will fit my 3D Printer?
There are three sizes of BOFA 3D Printer extractor available within the range. The 3D PrintPRO 2 is the smallest extractor and is suitable for desktop open framed 3D printers such as the UP! Plus 2. A PrintPRO 3 is more suited for large desktop closed frame 3D printers such as the CEL Robox. The largest unit, the 3D PrintPRO 4, is more suited for large scaled free-standing industrial/commercial 3D Printers used in businesses with a focus on rapid prototyping, such as the ProJet range from 3D Systems.
The 3D PrintPRO 2 uses a flexible arm with a nozzle to capture contaminants directly from the open framed printer. The 3D PrintPRO 3 can be connected to the extraction ports of a closed frame 3D Printer. Often the extraction/ventilation ports on the printer will be awkward to mount to, BOFA have cleverly supplied a range of 3D Printer STEP files for users to print manifolds to fit the exhaust outlets of many popular systems. The 3D PrintPRO 4 connects directly to the back of most free-standing 3D printers.
What other benefits does a 3D printer fume extractor give me?
By removing sticky particles and haze from the print chamber, the user may find that the quality of their build increases slightly, with less chance of rejected builds. For users who 3D Print at home, no ducting or fans need to be installed to exhaust fumes outside of the building. This is handy for keeping costs down, aesthetics up and to not bother the neighbours with smells from 3D printing production.
No permanent fittings need to be made when installing the system, so the extractor is able to be moved anywhere the 3D printer is located. Often extractors will fit under workbenches or on desktops, so intrusion of the manufacturing area is kept to a minimum.
Since much is still unknown about how harmful fumes from 3D printers may be, future proofing your system in perpetration of any law changes is a worthwhile precaution – for your setup and for your health.
The rapid prototyping (RP) industry is growing every year with increased involvement in manufacturing, healthcare, education and construction. With rapid growth and proven sustainability, rapid prototyping is playing a highly important role for the future of industry and education. A correctly specified extractor for your business or home will help keep users safe from a number of RP processes including 3D Printing, Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM), Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM), Stereolithography (SLA), Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS).