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  • 3D Printing with Filaments: Health and Safety Questions to Ask

    1 Characterization of Potential Hazards
    What potential hazards are associated with 3D printing? Are there known health effects from the filaments (for example, see safety data sheets)? What is the work environment like (for example, open or isolated area)?
    Potential hazards may include:
    Breathing and skin contact with volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) and particulates (printing) and other chemicals (post-printing)
    Hot surfaces and moving parts
    Printing considerations:
    Printing material (e.g., use polylactic acid [PLA] filament rather than acrylonitrile butadiene styrene [ABS] when possible)
    Filaments with additives (e.g., metals, nanomaterials, carbon fibers)
    Frequency and duration of printing
    Manufacturer’s recommendations for bed and nozzle temperatures
    Work environment best practices:
    Print in a negatively pressured area with a dedicated ventilation system, in an area away from other work
    Reduce time spent near printing process (e.g., monitor remotely or leave area)
    2 Work Activities
    Could the work activity cause exposures? What is the likelihood of exposure? Can you change the way you do the activity to reduce the likelihood of exposure (high potential to low)?
    Higher potential for exposures: 
    • Cleaning printer heads/nozzles
    • Heating nozzles
    Lower potential for exposures: 
    • Loading filament into printer
    • Changing printer heads/nozzles
    • Prepping build plate
    Higher potential for exposures:
    • Using printer in general office work area
    • Working near printer
    • Going to printer quickly after print failures and during start up
    Lower potential for exposures:
    • Using video monitoring
    Higher potential for exposures:
    • Removing support structures with solvents or other chemicals
    • Post-processing activities with filaments containing nanomaterials
    Lower potential for exposures:
    • Removing part and changing filaments
    • Scraping build plate with tools
    Maintenance and cleaning
    Higher potential for exposures:
    • Cleaning printer head/build plate with solvents
    Lower potential for exposures:
    • Changing filament
    • Collecting waste
    • Housekeeping
    3 Engineering Controls
    Based on the work activity, what engineering controls will reduce the likelihood of exposure? What are the key design and operational requirements for the control?
    Applies to All Printing Stages
    • High efficiency particulate air (HEPA)-filtered local exhaust ventilation placed near printing
    • If concerned about VOCs, add gas and vapor filters to local exhaust ventilation
    • Ventilated enclosure or containment (for example, fume hood)
    • Local exhaust ventilation or ventilated enclosure for post-processing activities involving chemicals (for example, cleaning or spray painting parts)
    • Ventilated enclosure or downdraft table for cutting and grinding parts during postprocessing
    4 Administrative Controls
    Have you considered your workplace practices and policies? Have you set up a plan for waste management? Have you considered what to do in case of a chemical spill?
    Applies to All Printing Stages
    • Incorporate 3D printing into workplace safety plans
    • Develop standard operating procedures and train workers
    • Do not consume food or drinks in work areas
    • Select the lowest printing temperature that achieves the desired product
    • When possible, choose a filament with lower known emission rates
    • Use signs to alert workers of hazards and appropriate actions to protect themselves
    • Restrict access to essential personnel or use remote monitoring
    • Handle and dispose of all waste materials (including cleaning materials/gloves) in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local regulations
    5 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
    If the measures above do not effectively control the hazard, what PPE can be used? Have you considered PPE for other safety hazards (for example, thermal gloves to prevent burns from hot printer heads)?
    Applies to All Printing Stages
    Wear PPE that is appropriate for the activities around you (for example, a coworker cleaning a printer next to your work station may require you to wear the same level of PPE). Follow proper PPE replacement practices. Do not wear PPE outside of work areas. Examples of possible PPE are:
    • Nitrile or chemical resistant gloves
    • Lab coat or coveralls
    • Safety glasses, goggles, or face shields
    • Respiratory protection when indicated and when engineering controls cannot control exposures, and in accordance with federal regulations (29 CFR 1910.134)
    • NIOSH guidance on respirators can be found at www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/respirators/

    View more information, please click the link to view the original article: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2020-115/pdfs/2020-115.pdf