Are 3D Printers Dangerous?

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It may seem like paradise…

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How to Get Started with a 3D Printer

But 3D printers may not be the garden of Eden in technology as they have been advertised. Yes, 3D printers do come with many benefits and those benefits can help make life a little more comfortable.

Are 3D printers dangerous? That remains to be seen but they are not as dangerous as airplanes, cars, guns, sharp knives and other elements of life. To see how dangerous 3D printers are just continue to read our article.

It provides you the information so you can make your own determination on this issue. If used correctly, those devices may be just like your regular computer printer. Not dangerous at all.

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Are 3D printers dangerous

The answer to this question will depend on how you define dangerous. Is it a weapon that can harm you? Not in the strict sense of the word weapon but it can be used to create dangerous items. Thus indirectly, 3D printers can be dangerous.

Here are some negative aspects of 3D printing that may have you concluding that they are dangerous if used by the wrong hands or under normal use.

IssueExplanation
Weapons3D printers have been known to create working plastic guns. The right plastic knife sharpened to a fine point can also be dangerous. Metal detectors won’t find these weapons
DrugsIt is possible to create certain new drugs and the drug lords can simply buy the right printer, put it in a normal looking home and print their profits while cutting their risks down
FiresThis can and does happen a lot. This makes the printer a direct danger to people and property
FumesIt has been studied and the fumes 3D printers emit can be hazardous to your health. Micro particles are also given off by both PLA and ABS filaments so you need a well ventilated room to work in
ChemicalsSome models use harmful chemicals to help produce your object. You need to follow proper safety protocols to handle those dangerous chemicals
EnvironmentWhile PLA is biodegradable, ABS is not and the amount of plastic making it to landfills and the oceans remains high

3 Dangerous issues

Not all danger is restricted to bodily harm in a direct way like harmful chemicals, fumes, drugs or weapons. There are other dangers that 3D printers can help expand with their improper use. Here are just 3 of those issues:

  1. Medical ethics and bioprinting– Just about everyone condemned Dr. Frankenstein when he tried to build his monster out of spare parts found in graves. The moral and ethical principles are quite clear there. But what about 3D printing body parts? This may be a fine line but printing spare parts may have an altruistic purpose but it soon can get out of hand and the highest bidder may grab the parts for personal use or profit. What if those spare parts are not made right, who takes the blame?
  2. Manufacturing responsibilities– it is easy to print harmful weapons, tools, and other objects that will hurt society. Who will take responsibility for the wrongful implementation of 3D printed items that do not constructively contribute to civilization. Then what about inferior products like printed bike helmets and other safety equipment? Who bears the burden of responsibility here?
  3. Economical impact– societies live and die by the economy. 3D printing can be used to undermine different segments of the nation and drive the economy into the ground. Lost jobs, loss of consumers, loss of revenue can all be attributed to the wrong kind of 3D printing and the rise of the black market will be evidence for this wrongful use

3D printing safety precautions

Not all will apply to home use but some of them will help protect private users and keep their families safe. It is always good to practice safety protocols when working with devices that create heat for long periods of time.

  1. Post signs- these signs need to be bright, legible, and warn anyone that the printer emits dangerous fumes, high temperatures and uses harmful chemicals
  2. Use bright colored tape- this can be used to keep spectators at a safe distance and out of harm’s way
  3. Safety training- this can apply for both the home use and the business application. Safety training goes a long way in protecting both family members and employees from injury
  4. Keep the space well ventilated- this goes without saying as dangerous fumes can take their toll. Have good fans or exhaust units whisking away those fumes and keep the printer cooler
  5. Keep the cover closed- once the printing has begun, do not open the cover for any reason except to prevent a fire
  6. Install fire extinguishers- you may not need them all the time but when you do, they make sure damage to your property is kept to a minimum
  7. Wear protective equipment- face masks, proper gloves, eye goggles and other items that keep your body parts away from harmful 3d elements
  8. Separate your work space- not just keep it well ventilated but keep the object and support materials away from food and food preparation areas
  9. Clean up- when spills take place use those absorbent pads that mop up solvent based materials and do it asap. Also, use the proper cleaning supplies for all materials used in 3D printing
  10. Get more safety information- when in doubt consult different safety sheets put out by government agencies like OSHA and other organizations

Some final words

3D printers are like most items made today. They have their proper and good use and they can be manipulated and used in a dangerous way. If these printers are dangerous then it is all in how you handle them, what objects you produce on them and if you use them in a safe manner or not.

Just take the proper steps to protect yourself, your family and your home and you should be fine when working with a 3D printer. Then make sure the right regulations that are fair for everyone are created and implemented.

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