Health and Safety
This page lists advice which can help you protect your health and that of others while manufacturing, assembling or using a printer. Another page covers the machine safety and notably the fire risks.
- 1 General advice
- 2 Building your printer
- 3 Chemicals
- 4 Fumes and gases from printing
- 5 Operating your RepRap
- 6 Other Risks
- 7 Laser radiation
- 8 References
- 9 See also
- 10 External links
- Keep a first aid kit handy. A normal first aid kit for cars should suffice, but you might want to add some (more) plasters and something to treat burns. Ideally, you'll never need it, but when you do, you'll be happy to have it.
- Same goes for a (small) fire extinguisher.
- When operating machines, wear protective clothing. This depends on the machine you're working on, generally you should:
- NOT wear gloves when operating machines with rotating parts (e.g. a lathe), because the gloves could get caught in it.
- Wear safety glasses when operating machines which produce chips. High velocity shrapnel and eyes don't mix well.
- People wearing corrective glasses not always use safety glasses as this is unpractical and they feel already protected. However, chips may rebound on brow ridge and glass to enter eye. Velocity will be limited, but that may however end badly with hot chips.
- Safety shoes/boots with steel caps can protect your feet from falling stuff, e.g. that anvil you were holding just a few second before.
- Make sure you've read and understood the instruction manuals of the equipment you use.
- Be especially careful when children are around. Don't leave them unsupervised.
- Ask them not to touch any tools and (most importantly!) explain to them why.
- While you're at it, get the next generation interested in RepRap.
Building your printer
- Some solder contains lead, wash your hands after using it. Otherwise, lead particles might make their way into your body.
- Some solder contains soldering agents. You won't get around it, but at least try not to inhale them.
- A soldering iron operates at temperatures between 150 and 480 °C [302 and 896 °F], don't touch anywhere but the grip/handle.
- If you've never soldered before, here's a guide: Soldering_Tutorial
Working with electronics
- Always do a quick visual check of the device in question before applying power to it.
- Do not touch current-carrying parts, you might get an electric shock.
- Do not touch electrified people, always pull the plug or turn off the mains first!
- Water and electronics generally don't mix well.
- Don't inhale the magic smoke. When something starts smoking, turn off the power immediately and ready your fire extinguisher.
Working with electricity
Care shall be taken while the power supply is inside your printer. Electricity kills, even professionals.
Shield all accessible parts in 110~230V. The shielding shall be independent from other parts of the printer, to be able to do very low voltage maintenance without risks.
Never work on live mains wiring.
Ground power supply and all metallic part which are at risk of being in contact with the mains in case of failure or wire breakage.
Your installation ground shall be effective. Check with a socket tester.
4-20mA breakers are compulsory from decades in many countries, but old installation may not have them. Its is a vital safety and you may upgrade your installation if it is lacking.
Restriction of Hazardous Substance directive (ROHS)
Equipment sold in EU shall comply with EU regulation, being it an ensemble or a component.
Components, as electronic board, if sold separately, does not have to be CE marked, but they shall be capable to be integrated in a CE certified product, with documentation explaining how to integrate to be CE compliant.
Notably all electronic sold in EU shall comply with the ROHS directive (no lead or other toxic heavy metals), and a lot of REPRAP components does not comply.
Acetone is used to smooth ABS print, sometimes by heating it.
Acetone is a fairly toxic chemical, which is quite volatile. Its boiling temperature is 56°C.
In addition while vaporised, it became explosive at low percentage, in a wide range (from 2 to 13% in volume).
So, for those who want to take the risk of smoothing ABS with acetone, at least do that outdoor, far from any ignition point, with the cold method, and walk away. Never boil acetone.
Filament & resins
Depending its origin, filament or resins of all plastic type may contains toxic chemicals, sometimes at high levels. There is nearly no information from most manufacturers and in a lot of countries, this is a violation of regulations. Some filament plastic are in themselves somewhat toxic while heated (ABS).
Filament sold in EU shall be compliant with all applicable CE regulation. The CE directive about chemicals is the REACH directive, however the manufacturers have only to declare chemical listed products if they import them at a quantity over 1 ton/year. If additives are in low quantity, the declaration threshold may not be reached and is, in any case, difficult to control by authorities.
You may find on common filament spool the mark ROHS, which is a bit strange as ROHS directive is only for electrical products.
Low cost filament may contains many times the allowed (in EU and USA) contents for toxic components. Dark filament may contains heavy metals (Lead and chromium). If buying cheap filament, use only natural color.
In EU, regulation impose that a MSDS (material safety datasheet) shall be available for each kind of product (filament or resin). Dye shall be taken into account in a safety datasheet. You may request them to product seller. If operating a printer in a school or any public place, getting these MSDS is imperative.
Fumes and gases from printing
Printers emit toxic fumes,VOC and ultra-fine particles.
The removal of these pollutant is treated in a specific page: Gaseous pollutant filtration
Operating your RepRap
- You shall be aware of all risks presented by 3D printing, make your own safety philosophy related to your setup and try to respect your own rules. You have to organize your installation and isolate toxic or flamable products. 
- RepRap works with materials at temperatures from ambient to about 300°C. You could burn yourself. Also some parts of the RepRap machine (particularly the extruder) are capable of generating quite high forces and torques - don't get your fingers in them.
- Printers generate toxic fumes, at a level which depend from the type of plastic and its origin. If not equipped with a filtration system, A printer shall be installed in a well ventilated area and you shall not stay near the ventilation flow. Also, If you have a filtration system, the filters shall be changed at recommended manufacturer intervals.
- Removing support materials
Use caution while using solvents to remove support materials, wearing gloves, respiratory mask and appropriate clothing.
- Be careful and use a double boiler when melting wax or thermoplastic. A double boiler is a set of two pans. The lower pan contains hot water, and the upper pan is placed in the lower pan.
- If you do not have a double boiler, put your wax or thermoplastic in a soup can and place that in a saucepan half full of water. Place the saucepan on your stovetop or hot plate and heat normally.
- Every manufacturing technology that humanity has ever come up with has been used to make weapons, and doubtless RepRap will be no exception. There is no absolute way to stop this, any more than one could stop someone buying a second-hand lathe on eBay and using that to turn up all sorts of very nasty objects. However, the RepRap researchers will work actively to inhibit and to subvert the use of RepRap for weapons production, whether by individuals, companies, or governments. And we will remove any such designs from this site. At least RepRap is not very suited to weapons manufacture - it tends to work with more subtle and delicate materials. Give people an internal combustion engine and a few will make tanks; but many more will make ambulances.
First: Read Wikipedias section on Laser radiation hazards.
Second: Make sure you have adequate safety glasses for the laser in question!
See also: Laser Safety
- http://www.cmu.edu/ehs/fact-sheets/3D-Printing-Safety.pdf 3D printing safety
- Printer safety and environment for safe operation
- Reprap forum: Safety and best practices
- Board safety
- Journal of occupational and environmental hygiene: Is 3D printing safe? Analysis of the thermal treatment of thermoplastics: ABS, PLA, PET, and nylon
- Hackaday: New Research Sheds Light on 3D Printing Fumes
- Ultrafine particle emissions from desktop 3D printers
- 3Ders.org: New study shows health hazards of 3d printing suggests PLA could be your safest bet
- Post on Deltabot forum: ROHS
- Post on deltabot forum: Heavy metal in cheap filament
- Post on Deltabot forum: CE certification