March 26, 2020

New NIOSH Posters Address Potential Hazards, Controls for 3D Printing

NIOSH recently published two new posters that characterize potential hazards associated with 3D printing and describe work activities that can cause exposure while 3D printing with both filaments (PDF) and metal powders (PDF). The posters also suggest the engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment that can be used to prevent exposure during different stages of 3D printing.

The posters identify the hazards of 3D printing with metal powders and filaments, the potential health effects associated with the use of each material, and the activities that can put workers at risk during each stage of the printing process. NIOSH’s posters then suggest different engineering and administrative controls that can be used (for example, employing local exhaust ventilation and cleaning work areas frequently) and the PPE that workers can wear to reduce their chance of experiencing health issues. According to NIOSH, options for PPE include lab coats or coveralls; safety glasses, goggles, or face shields; and nitrile or chemical-resistant gloves.

Potential hazards of printing with filaments include breathing and skin contact with volatile organic compounds, particulates, and other chemicals, as well as hot surfaces and moving parts. When printing with metal powders, hazards may include breathing and skin contact with metals, fire and explosions, and high-powered lasers. For both filaments and metal powders, NIOSH’s recommended best practice is for workers to print in a negatively pressured area with a dedicated ventilation system, in an area away from other work.