Do 3D Printers Emit Carbon Monoxide?

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The silent killer

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How to Get Started with a 3D Printer

That is what carbon monoxide is described as being. While this quiet gas has many sources, one of those sources has been identified as the 3D printer. This is not a surprise as these new printers, especially the lower quality ones, do emit different harmful chemicals and particles.

But do not let those that get afraid easily stop you from using your 3D printer in constructive ways. All you need to do is follow a few simple steps and you should be fine.

To learn more about 3D printers and their relationship with carbon monoxide just continue to read our article. It has the information you need to know about.

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Is there a carbon monoxide problem

The answer to that question is positive as some 3D printers do emit carbon monoxide fumes. However, the amount that the device gives out may not be at harmful levels especially if you have your printer in a large room.

This is not to downplay the risk but to keep it in the proper perspective. There are some people who have died from carbon monoxide poisoning and the suspect was their 3D printer. But carbon monoxide needs to build up in the body before it becomes a health risk

It gets fatal at about 400 PPM or 0.04%, yet with air leaks, ventilation and other air flow sources, there would have to be a large production of carbon monoxide to even reach that level. 3D printers may not be able to produce that much unless the room was closed for days on end while the printer worked.

You may have more health issues from inhaling ultra-fine particulates or volatile organic compounds other than carbon monoxide. The smaller the particle the more dangerous.

Steps to take to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning

There are different measures you can take to make sure your 3D printing is done in a healthy and very safe environment. Here are some suggestions to guide your 3D printing work and keep you, your family and your co-workers safe:

StepMeasureDescription
 1.Use an air purifierNot only does this device help clean up the air of carbon monoxide it helps remove many of the UFPs and VOCS that 3D printers give off
 2.Use ventilationNothing beats good air flow when you want to work in a healthy environment. Good fans, open windows, etc., all contribute to keeping the air healthy
 3.Install a good filtering systemHEPA filters are good and remove a lot of unseen particles and gases form the air
 4.Add a closed cabinet systemClosing and adding filters to the build area helps reduce toxic emissions
 5.Switch to non toxic filamentThis is one of the better ways of avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, nothing says that because ABS and PLA are used the most,  you have to use those filaments

While most of these solutions are not 100% effective, cutting down on emissions that you come in contact with helps a great deal.

The different filaments that you can use

To prevent any exposure to carbon monoxide you should know your filaments and make sure to pick the safest ones that will do the job correctly. Here is a list of filaments and their nature to help you avoid toxic fumes and particles:

NumberFilamentToxic fumes or non toxic
1.ABSReleases toxic fumes not good in enclosed non ventilated areas
2.PLANo harmful fumes and emits a nice odor
3.PET Food safe so toxic levels are low or non existent
4.PETTLike PET it is food safe so toxin levels may be minute but double check to make sure
5.NylonThis needs a high temperature to melt and when it does melt, it also releases toxic fumes
6.PVAThis is a good choice for certain projects and it is non-toxic, usually used as a support building filament
7.Sandstone (PLA+ Brick)No word on its toxic levels so read the label to make sure it is safe to use
8.WoodContains wood chips and plastic filament it may be toxic but double check to make sure
9.Metal (PPLA or ABS)The ABS options will be toxic while the PLA filaments should not be
10HIPSAlso used to build supports for ABS prints. It is non toxic but the ABS isn’t
11Magnetic Iron PLANot mentioned but be careful it may be in the fine print. Made from PLA but err on the side of caution
12Conductive PLA & ABSThe former may be non-toxic while the latter should be. Check the labels or instructions to make sure if they are or not
13Carbon Fiber 3D PrinterHard on printers but may not be toxic. There is no word on this yet but it is made from PLA so chances are that it is non-toxic
14Flexible TPEUsed for medical supplies and other applications but no word on its toxicity levels
15Glow in the DarkSafe to use and environmentally friendly so the safe conclusion is that it is non toxic but it is not safe for food use
16Amphora 3D PrinterThis filament type is FDA approved and does not produce any odors of note. It is food safe and a strong filament

Some final words

Avoiding carbon monoxide is getting harder these days as more and more devices designed to make life easier are producing this gas. There is a bit of good news in all of this, researchers have been able to produce and print a carbon monoxide detector.

It works at room temperature and provides a satisfactory response time. In time you may be able to print your own and save on buying one at the store. If you are careful and do not have a detector, you can avoid carbon monoxide emissions.

Just follow the right safety protocols and enjoy your 3D printing hobby. Don’t let fear ruin your new hobby.

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