November 9, 2023

NIOSH Publishes Guide to Safe 3D Printing

NIOSH has published Approaches to Safe 3D Printing: A Guide for Makerspace Users, Schools, Libraries, and Small Businesses (PDF). This 40-page document outlines health and safety risks and potential controls for three-dimensional (3D) printing processes used in non-industrial settings and workplaces.

According to NIOSH, 3D printing technology is “becoming a prominent part of modern innovation” due to its ability to quickly turn computer-aided design models into physical parts. 3D printers are now used in small businesses, schools, libraries, and makerspaces, which are areas where people may gather to work on projects and share ideas, equipment, and knowledge. Use of 3D printers presents possible safety hazards, such as heat, moving parts, and lasers, and can cause exposures to ultrafine particles, metal dust emissions, volatile organic compounds, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Plastic and resins similar to those used in 3D printers have been associated with substances identified as causative agents for occupational diseases, the agency says.

NIOSH has evaluated emissions from various printer and feedstock combinations and recommended risk management practices to protect workers. This new guide outlines the use of ventilated enclosures, local exhaust ventilation, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment to help prevent exposures, control odors, and reduce emissions. Different sections of the guide cover 3D printing processes, risks, risk management, and exposure assessment.

The guide may be downloaded for free as a PDF from NIOSH’s website.