New studies show that 3D printing may be hazardous to our health

“This was totally worth the emphysema!”

So: articles are beginning to pop up on the web about scientific studies that are showing that 3D printing releases ultra fine particles, also known as UFPs, into the air. These particles are small enough to get through a surgical mask, and can enter the bloodstream, causing lung and heart disease and other health problems. My only issue with these findings is when they say that the amount of UFPs released by printing something in PLA – the corn-based plastic – is akin to the amount used by cooking something in an electric skillet. Printing in ABS is more like grilling something on the stove at low temperature.

Are you kidding me? This sounds like some kind of scare tactic to me. Remember when people tried to say the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) could possibly create a black hole that would tear the Earth apart? And what happened when they turned it on? Not that! And since then, the LHC has been making science on a daily basis. Now I understand and agree when they say you should 3D print in a well-ventilated area, but don’t make it sound like its going to give us lung cancer or something.

One good thing about these studies, though, is that they inform safety measures that are built into future models. That’s a good thing, and that’s why these studies shouldn’t go away, but hopefully people aren’t going to take these and prophesy the end of life on Earth; we have more serious things to look out for – cigarette smoke, car exhaust, black holes, stuff like that.


  1. It’s good to know, though. MTM would love to have one of these 3D printers for his office, and I think I will lobby for his continued purchasing of models through other outlets. 🙂

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