3D printing -- a 'dusty' business?

November 12, 2020

To close the substantial gaps in our knowledge, scientists at the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) are investigating which particles are released into the environment and what their properties are. Different substances are released into the air depending on the material used for printing. For example, BfR experts were able to detect particles of the widely-used plastic polylactic acid and copper crystals, among other substances.

The size of the particles was 50 nanometres (polylactic acid) and 120 to 150 nanometres (copper). This means that they are so small that they can get into the alveoli, the smallest branches of the lungs. The higher the temperature during "printing", the more particles were released. The BfR is now exploring whether "3D printer dust" poses a health risk.

Consumer safety regarding 3D printers was also the focus of an expert meeting (partly held online) that took place at the BfR on 28 August 2020. In addition to the BfR, the participating institutions were the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM), the German Environment Agency (UBA), the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (IFA) and the US Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). Research institutes from Technische Universität Berlin, interest groups and mem-bers of the 3D printing association "3DDruck e.V.", in which users and manufacturers are or-ganised, were also represented.

The event focused on fused deposition modelling (FDM, also known as fused filament fabri-cation, FFF). In this additive production process, a thermoplastic, the filament, is heated and then applied layer by layer to create the desired object.

The BfR, BAM and CPSC presented their initial results at the meeting. These showed that volatile components and particles are released during printing. Release is influenced by the materials used (plastic, dyes, additives) and the printing temperature. Investigations con-ducted by BAM and CPSC were carried out with 3D printers, while the BfR also tested 3D printing pens. There is little information available on possible health effects so far, so the BfR sees this as a core research area.

Different measures were discussed to reduce the release and ensure consumer protection. Other issues included possible risks in the subsequent treatment of 3D printed objects (e.g. through smoothing down) as well as the use of other 3D printing methods, such as stereo-lithography (SLA) or selective laser sintering (SLS). Better ways to distribute the information regarding possible health risks to the consumers were also discussed.
About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the German federal government and German federal states ("Laender") on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version

BfR Federal Institute for Risk Assessment

Related Health Articles from Brightsurf:

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

Modifiable health risks linked to more than $730 billion in US health care costs
Modifiable health risks, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking, were linked to over $730 billion in health care spending in the US in 2016, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health.

New measure of social determinants of health may improve cardiovascular health assessment
The authors of this study developed a single risk score derived from multiple social determinants of health that predicts county-level cardiovascular disease mortality.

BU study: High deductible health plans are widening racial health gaps
The growing Black Lives Matter movement has brought more attention to the myriad structures that reinforce racial inequities, in everything from policing to hiring to maternal mortality.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

E-health resource improves men's health behaviours with or without fitness facilities
Men who regularly used a free web resource made significantly more health changes than men who did not, finds a new study from the University of British Columbia and Intensions Consulting.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental health of health care workers in china in hospitals with patients with COVID-19
This survey study of almost 1,300 health care workers in China at 34 hospitals equipped with fever clinics or wards for patients with COVID-19 reports on their mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress.

Health records pin broad set of health risks on genetic premutation
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marshfield Clinic have found that there may be a much broader health risk to carriers of the FMR1 premutation, with potentially dozens of clinical conditions that can be ascribed directly to carrying it.

Attitudes about health affect how older adults engage with negative health news
To get older adults to pay attention to important health information, preface it with the good news about their health.

Read More: Health News and Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.