Thanks for the info. I was aware of a few, but I didn’t imagine that there were so many VOCs released from FFDm, and I was also surprised by specific filament results, especially PETG.
Besides avoiding inhalation (not always possible) and setting up forced flow extraction with an active carbon filter, I am unaware of other simple and effective measures.
Almost seems like it should be illegal to sell a printer without legitimate filtration. I bet bambu is even worse because it prints at the high end of temps to support the speed.
Imagine how many people think theyre safe because of “carbon filtration” lol
Well, it’s the filament that’s really the problem, the printer is just the “delivery system”.
The higher than normal temps might actually be a positive. Chemicals are weird and do weird stuff at different temps.
So higher can be worse, or better.
“This work has shown experimentally that VOC emissions from plastics increase with temperature, owing to the migration of chemical compounds from the bulk polymer to the surface which then diffuse into the surrounding air.”
I think its always worse at higher temps. We went from pla at 190c to 220c. Silk pla went from 190c to 230c.
Thanks for this article. Now I know, that I’m happy to have a tinkering cellar for such hobbies and have not to worry about not to have the printer in my home office upstairs.
And thanks to the Bambu Lab concept with AMS, Bambu Studio integration and the better reliability the handling of my P1P in the cellar is much more smoother than it was with the Ender 3 (incl. Octoprint/Klipper) for me as beginner.
I have lately been printing Sunlu white PETG and Prusament grey PETG. I put two different air particle counters near my bambulab X1C printer whlie printing a PETG model, and to my surprise both monitors seemed largely unaffected. In addition, the Airthings device also includes a VOC sensor, and likewise that VOC sensor seemed barely affected also.
Anyone else here either found or is using equipment with better sensitivity than mine? I know from having test driven a few different VOC sensors that finding a VOC sensor with high sensitivity is not easy. If anyone has found one, please post.
I have noticed the same thing…
I have one of those IKEA air quality monitoring things and even if I put it inside the printer it hardly measures anything.
Start cooking some food however and is goes up like crazy…
Seems to me if you normally ventilate a bit it is not too serious all together…
Yeah, it’s hit r miss as to whether any given chemical molecule in the air will trip an alarm, . On the other hand,as long as whatever it is can scatter light, then hopefully the particle counter will be able to announce that there s something in the air even if it doesn’t know exactly what it is.
I would love to see study data like this comparing the scenarios of an open frame fdm printer, an enclosed printer like the X1 with minimal exhaust filtering, an enclosure with a bento box doing recirculation filtering, and an enclosure with exterior venting.
I run an AirGradient AQ meter that sits next to my printer to monitor small particles and VOC’s. I capture the data in a Home Assistant server so I can easily see what’s happening in real time and trending over time via history. I only really have results for PLA and ASA, as that’s about all I’ve been printing with recently and I’ve had my meter for a few months now.
From what I’ve seen, small particles don’t appear to really increase much if at all while printing PLA, closed door or open. It might during a long print, as it has more time to move around the air, but honestly shouldn’t be an issue. ASA results are a bit different, as I typically see a spike in small particles at the beginning of the print that quickly drop off and may increase over a long print, this is with door closed.
VOC’s on the other hand can be difficult to track and measure. The issue is that there is always some level of VOC’s in the air at all times. There are many daily things that can cause the VOC’s level to rise such as: cooking, furnace kicking on, cleaning build plate with rubbing alcohol, having a late night glass of whiskey, or eating way too many beans for dinner. All jokes aside, the last one is the one that gives me the most headache, as it can really mess up the numbers if you aren’t mindful of your personally generated VOCs.
Since VOCs are always in the air, a meter typically can’t give you meaningful numbers like a particle detector. In order to give you results that you can use, the VOC sensor acts more like a nose, it “smells” the air and lets you know when smells change. Think of it as like a human nose, it notices smells when you first walk into a room, but over time it quits detecting the “normal” smells around you. This would be the baseline for a VOC detector. If you light a candle in the room, suddenly you can smell that since it’s a new smell in the area. A VOC detector would sense the change and report numbers based upon the rise of this new smell in the area.
My VOC sensor captures the average over a 24 hour period to get a baseline value which is 100. If it drops below 100 then VOCs are dropping below the average, which typically happens if I open a window or run my air purifier. If it goes above 100, then the level of VOCs in the room have gone up, which is what you are trying to look for when printing. This becomes hard to detect since there are so many environmental changes that can have an effect beyond what your printer is putting off.
From what I’ve see so far, VOCs don’t go up at all when printing PLA. VOCs do typically go up while printing ASA, but do not spike like I’ve seen with small particles. I tried to capture these results late at night, furnace turned off, and with me out of the room, which helped give me some values to compare.
I’m still early into using my AirGradient meter and I need to take the time to actually track results in a spreadsheet to better see what’s going on, but I’ve been too busy with other projects. I can definitely say that having good air movement in a room that brings in new air will greatly decrease the saturation of particles and VOCs in the air. If the air in the room doesn’t change often enough, then those levels can rise over time while printing, so you may want to mitigate. I do find that running a bento box in the chamber of the printer greatly reduces the small particles and VOCs I see, sometimes completely depending on what I’m printing. Using my self made vent hose with an inline 65 cfm duct fan completely removes all small particles and VOCs since it creates negative pressure on the chamber and vents it outside.
I think t is safe to say that VOC and particles are not a major concern when 3D printing. However, it is never a bad idea to have good ventilation in the 3D printing area.
I have worked at Philips injection molding department (injection molding of shavers). There is always a smell there. But it is still a place where many people work on a daily basis and I have never heard of anything bad resulting from it. And that is a place where they melt lots of plastics all the time all day every day. And there are a lot of big factories like this.
I personally think the danger of 3D printing is not that great.
I’ve tried a number of different indoor air quality monitors, but I don’t think I ever got clear answers from any of them as to how well they measured the air for particles of size 0.3mm and smaller. I say ironically because it’s these smaller size particles that are thought to have the greatest adverse effect on human health, not the larger size particles that seem to be much more commonly measured.
Prior to my acquiring my Bambu Lab X1C, I owned a Prusa Mk3 and an Ender 5, all at the same time. At that time I had the habit of hanging around those two 3D printers and watching them print. I don’t recall noticing anything particularly noteworthy about the air quality during that timeframe, but I would nonetheless often wake up early the next morning with what subjectively seemed like a thin coat of plastic coating the inside of my nose. It can best be described as either plastically, or perhaps waxy. Therefore, I think pretty clearly something was in the air, even if I couldn’t quantify it with instrument measurements. Fortunately, I haven’t noticed this happening much now that I have an X1C, and maybe the reason for the improvement is that instead of hovering over the prints as they developed, I can instead remotely check in from time to time using the X1C’s video link.
A German research institute once commented on this question (in English) two years ago:
Basically I agree with them, you should always ventilate the room well!
As far as I know, there are still no serious studies on inorganic or organic fine dust particles and which substances have an effect on us. We breathe in, a number of substances, industrial and car exhaust fumes, every day. Composites that evaporate from our household furniture (this sometimes takes decades). Or the cigarette smoke from the person sitting next to us.
And yet none of us walks around with a CBRN protective mask. Because none of this knocks us down directly. In the long term, we will see how much dose makes the poison.
So with ABS and ASA, I wouldn’t want to stay in the room for long. Unless it’s well ventilated and there’s only one printer running. (This material can lead to poisoning, even if the printers have filters.)
In PETG, caprolactam is suspected of causing eye irritation and respiratory problems. If the dose is too high. But it is far less harmful and can at least not let us fall over directly, than like ABS/ASA can.
But yes, life is still trial and error.
And I guess we find out.