Researchers warn of stroke and asthma risk from 3D printers

3D printing is becoming increasingly commonplace, particularly for businesses that have found an invaluable means of creating affordable prototypes and one-off items. Demand for the flexibility of being able to design items and then create them with relative ease has led to a significant fall in the cost of the 3D printers, as home users and ultra-small businesses jump on the bandwagon. 

But researchers at the Illinois Institute of Technology have warned that these machines could be a recipe for trouble in inexperienced hands. Current-generation 3D printers disperse tiny (less than 100-nanometre) particles into the air as part of the production process. Ordinarily – in a workshop, for example – ventilation systems would resolve this issue, but 3D printers are being sold to those without the proper air circulation systems in place. 


3D printers such as this one are getting cheaper, but it seems they could be dangerous in inexperienced hands.

When inhaled, the particles can cause problems for the body, being absorbed into the bloodstream or clogging up the lungs; over time, this can result in heart and breathing problems, asthma or stroke. 

IIT's Brent Stephens explained: "These results suggest caution should be used when operating some commercially available 3D printers in unvented or inadequately filtered indoor environments." His report also recommended further testing by the industry to properly review the issue.

Source: The Telegraph

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23 Comments

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Here comes the "asbestos" of 2013 and the hoopla that will surely surround it in a few years hence. Attorneys, start your engines!

Yea, folks are really eager to jump on the suits as early as possible before regulation comes out. I can smell the dollar bills now and see a lot of banning But I see a twinkle of hope Asbestos still exists here in the states, it's in my t-shirt heat press. Comes out the edges sometimes and I sweep it away. All this hoopla about 3D printing doesn't stop me from wanting one

Dot Matrix said,
THANKS OBAMA!

yeah, because common sense has SO much to do with Obama... you are using chemicals that make vapors that are bad for you during the printing process....

Pah lease. Expect to see more "studies" poo pooing 3D printers. Wonder what their true motivation was. These things scare the crap out all governments.

Don't underestimate the harm.

It basically saying don't treat it as a home printer as opposed to a power tool. It doesn't necessarily have to be a cynical article designed to turn people away from it just because it shed a negative light. There are plenty of DIY work that you likely won't dare to do in a closed area with no ventilation because of fumes or dust particles.

theyarecomingforyou said,
Nonsense. Similar risks have been expressed about laser printers yet that doesn't mean governments are trying to get them banned or scare people away from using them.

Nonsense is comparing laser printers to 3D printers. Laser printers aren't on anyone's radar because they can't make guns or other things that are a threat to whoever.

The benchmark of whether or not this is part of a campaign will be to watch for other similar articles in the coming year.

Hahaiah said,
Nonsense is comparing laser printers to 3D printers. Laser printers aren't on anyone's radar because they can't make guns or other things that are a threat to whoever.

How is it nonsense when very similar health issues were made about both types of printers? While it is logical to assume that governments are concerned about the future impact of 3D printing - as much for the legal consequences as for the economic - that's very different to suggesting that this is part of an orchestrated campaign to discredit the technology and/or impose draconian restrictions.

We know that every day products - from combustion engines to mobile phones to bacon - have associated health risks so I see no reason to jump to the conclusion that this is politically motivated, that it was fabricated or exaggerated.

Hahaiah said,

Nonsense is comparing laser printers to 3D printers. Laser printers aren't on anyone's radar because they can't make guns or other things that are a threat to whoever.

The benchmark of whether or not this is part of a campaign will be to watch for other similar articles in the coming year.

Laser printers have been on people's radars for years... there was a big anti-toner scare a few years ago because toner particles are bad to breath

Seems legit to raise awareness that 3D printers require proper ventilation. It's probably going to be like spray paint - not banned, but legally required to include bold safety warnings about its ventilation requirements.

Well duh. You are bringing what is essentially a manufacturing process into your home. Even regular printers are harmful to your health over time according to numerous studies.

ILikeTobacco said,
Well duh. You are bringing what is essentially a manufacturing process into your home. Even regular printers are harmful to your health over time according to numerous studies.

Everything is dangerous, even oxygen is killing us slowly.