IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

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Exploratory Study on Worker Exposure to Ultrafine Particles and VOCs Released During 3D Printing

Abstract

3D printing, a manufacturing method based on superimposing layers of one or more materials, is used for low-cost production of unique parts in many industries such as aerospace, defense and healthcare.
Some 3D printing techniques release decomposition products such as ultrafine particles (UFPs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are potentially harmful to the health of workers and users.
In Québec, there have been no studies inventorying the protocols for using this technology or the number of workers exposed to the resulting UFPs and VOCs.

Our aim was to establish an overall picture of existing 3D printing techniques, the materials used, the various utilization protocols and conditions, and the parameters, including extrusion temperature and speed of production. Our secondary aim was to document exposure to UFPs and VOCs and to understand the health risk for users of commercial printers.

This information will provide a foundation for better knowledge of worker exposure and for the development of preventive measures. Further investigations will include studies for measuring exposure.