Serious safety concerns with living in same room as PLA 3D Printer?

  • I have an Ender 3 which I primarily use for printing with PLA. I haven't branched out to other materials yet. :)

    I've done some research into PLA fumes and airborne particulates which seemed to mention that PLA is mostly safe, but ABS is rather dangerous to print without proper ventilation. However, I understand that there isn't much research on the topic and that there haven't been many studies.

    I have been keeping my printer in my bedroom, far isolated from flammable materials, which I sometimes leave on to print while I'm asleep. Should I be concerned with my health safety with respect to airborne particulates emitted by printing with PLA?

    Other questions ask about ABS, but here, I'm asking specifically about PLA.

    Good point, @Greenonline, but I'm asking more specifically about PLA. The Ender 3 isn't very well optimized for ABS, and I don't plan on trying to use it anytime soon. The only other filament kinds I'd be trying are PETG and TPU. Otherwise, I'd just use PLA with my printer.

    Even though PLA is plant based, and not full-on chemicals, living/sleeping in any environment with *fumes* (i.e. particulates) can't be good for you long term. Vaping with VG (vegetable glycerine) is *meant* to be (relatively) harmless but, as a chain-vaper, I can still feel negative effects to my respiratory and cardio-vascular systems. I would, IMHO, advise against it, without good filtering/ventilation.

    Wow how do you manage to sleep with the sound of the printer running?

  • Fire is the most obvious risk - firmware can now detect some of the more obvious failure modes such as a detached thermistor, but loose or failing connections can still overheat. A smoke alarm is a fairly obvious (but not necessarily effective) protective measure.

    The risk from particulates in particular is probably low, but marginal health risks like this are extremely hard to analyse, and will likely take many years to manifest. The closest analogue would be to look at commercial plastics workers since they are exposed to both heated plastic, and any potential dust generated.

    You could also compare the risk to other 'hobby' activities such as soldering, painting, woodworking.

    Very good points, @Sean Houlihane, but what's your risk assessment?

    Risk is your decision. Why would you care what risks I take personally?

    "Most" but not all hot ends will not explode if their temp sensor breaks. Firmware usually detects issues such as disconnected thermistor. The only fires I have been aware of were the Flash Forges and electrical fires on the board it self from cheap / bad solder jobs. I agree that the risk is unknown. I would not say Low. The issue is with fine air particulates, which are known to be bad for your health. Pro labs that work with plastics and such will have industrial fume extractors. Which you can build your own with an inline fan and an enclosure.

    @StarWind0 You comment would probably be better as an answer, otherwise it may eventually be deleted.

    @StarWind0 Also, some cheap printer firmware has the "Temperature runaway protection" disabled.

    Why would you rate a smoke alarm as "not necessarily effective"?

    @vwegert "in smoldering fires ionization alarms respond an average of 15 to 50 minutes slower than photoelectric alarms", again, its a judgement call and I want to leave the reader to make their own assessments.

    This entire answer is pure conjecture and I am not sure why it was marked as the correct answer.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM

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