Nasty toxic fumes?

I have heard that some inconsistent printing causes could be do to ambient cold and hot air surrounding the printer so I placed it in one of our spare bedrooms I use for a office.

My concern is that when I print with ABS or HIPS, the toxic fumes that may be building up in the room. How are people dealing with that issue or is it an issue at all?

PLA I understand is not so bad but other petroleum based products could be.

Any thoughts?

It is an interesting thing to think about if there are really any long term effects from the fumes.

I used to work in the film industry in the field of special make up effects. Over the years of working with so many different chemicals, castible foams, urethanes epoxies and resins ect, ect. Ect… I had several occasions where I became I’ll by using certain types of things. Benzine was one I had experienced major effects from it, my body just could not deal with it and I got severely Ill from using it. Air brushing it with rubber cement paints, it is used as the thinner. Also zip kicker for supper glue, will make me pretty sick IF I use it I’m really large amounts.

SO your concerns are real and we should all take measures to make sure the fumes are not bad for us. I have my entire garage set up as a work shop so i probably get more air flow then a bedroom dose. You should crack a window.

Something you can look into is the MSDS sheets on the filaments and see what they say.

I also own a Stratasys Dimension SST1200 ES printer (it’s a pro level FDM if ur not familiar worth it) it’s a 30k machine. All of Stratasys documentation says this printer is safe for a office environment. Maybe that’s some peace of mind.

Thanks for the reply. I was thinking of simply cracking the window but then what’s the point of placing the printer in an isolated area with minimal air movement?

I was thinking of putting it in an enclosure to print with ABS or HIPS and I would suppose it would contain the fumes once inside…until of course you open up the enclosure and get a whiff of that freshly baked plastic. :laughing:

I was just wondering how some people are dealing with the issue if they are at all.


There’s a company that makes filters for enclosures… I’d have to dig though my notes. A quick search of “3D printer filtration” turned up the following:

I typically don’t sit next to the printer for long periods of time (Octoprint for tethering / control), but there is a smell of melting plastics with ABS. Depending on the filament it could be bad to breathe in:

Build an enclosure with a vent fan & air duct to out side. You could even use a bathroom fan if you wanted but there usually a bit loud. My partner did an fan that vents outside. He has a MakerBot says it vents the fullness out really well. I think he just used a house fan I can ask him of you want to know but any fan will work.

I’m working on an enclosure myself drafts are a killer for ABS prints and a warmer environment is better overall for ABS. my dimension printer gets up to 180 - 190 F inside the enclosure.

TL:DR – I would definitely suggest venting because even if the fumes don’t bother you now, repeated exposure can lead to sensitivity. It is better to limit your overall exposure so that when you do have the occasional exposure to fumes, nothing happens, which is infinitely better than the 30 days of itchy scaly skin HIPS fumes gave me.

When I first got my printer (a Lulzbot Mini), I immediately started making things with it using HIPS – I was touching the pieces while they were warm, sticking my face right down in the printer to watch, and getting many whiffs of fumes. Within a day, my hands became covered in tiny water blisters on the sides of my fingers and in the webbing between my fingers, and my entire jawline turned red and itchy where the fumes would hit me as looked down on the printing pieces. Over time, the blisters pop and then my skin gets scaly and itchy for about a month until it sheds. This is the same reaction I have with exposure to epoxy or polyester resin – I did a major refurb on a fiberglass boat about five years ago. I started out having no reaction at all, but after about six months, I became extremely sensitive – since then, the smallest amount of epoxy or resin on my skin causes my hands to completely break out in the water blisters I described. Apparantely, HIPS fumes do the same thing to me as well. I talked to my doctor about the epoxy/resin reaction back when it started, and he said that repeated exposure to certain irritants can lead to a permanent allergy for some people, that I got unlucky, and there wasn’t anything to do except not touch the stuff – and as an inverse bonus, I get to keep the allergy for life (it’s my only one – I’ve never had any kind of allergies to anything before this).

The reaction I had to HIPS had me so depressed because I really want to print. So I built a hood for the printer – basically a plywood pyramid, which vents into 4" elbow, which connects to a 4" flexible vinyl dryer hose, then through the wall out of a dryer vent. It’s powered with a 12v bilge blower that is supposed to move 200 CFM. I don’t have an enclosure yet, but I had a big piece of foam poster board lying around, so I block up the front and sides of the printer by leaning pieces of that poster board up against it, along with some random things to block up the sides. I switched to ABS.

I haven’t tried printing in HIPS since building the hood – not even sure I want to self-experiment, though I also don’t want the four rolls I have to go to waste. The ABS hasn’t seemed to bother me (except for maybe the black colored filament, but I somewhat feel that may have been psychosomatic) and I’m basically healed up now, but I’m also using the hood religiously, not using HIPS, not sticking my face in the fumes at all, using the makeshift enclosure to guide fumes into the hood, and also using nitrile gloves to handle warm pieces. It’s kind of a hassle, but nothing like the discomfort of the allergic reaction.

My printer is sitting under my whole house vent fan. one of these days i’ll finish a proper enclosure for it. Well, one of them is anyways. the other is on the other side of the room.

By putting a power vent on your enclosure your defeating the purpose of the enclosure. Bringing nice cool room air in and exhausting is going to cool off the area inside the box or whatever your using. Keeping it 85-95 degrees is going to be hard. Gently venting the room to the outside will help take out the fumes.

PS I was involved in commercial HVAC work before retirement.

I’ve considered that – right now it’s summer and my garage is not air conditioned so it hasn’t been an issue. By winter, I hope to have a real enclosure built (no top, directs into the hood), and a heating system that pushes hot air into the printer from beneath (cut hole in table, attach ducting, cheap heater, temperature sensor, arduino). Venting into the room just isn’t an option for me considering the nasty reaction I had (at least to HIPS).

As an HVAC guy, do you have any suggestions for the heating side? What would be a good way to connect a cheap space heater so that it doesn’t blast massive amounts of air, and at the same time, I have enough heater fan going so that the heater doesn’t melt or become a fire hazzard? What’s a good way to attach a duct to a heater?

Warm air rises so I would leave the bottom of your enclosure or at least part of it open and the hole at the top, mine has a long slit to go over the reel and a allow the filament to feed. I have a Mini. Natural convection will vent it out the top and then have a very small exhaust fan to carry away the fumes along with some room air. A space heater (electric) is dangerous to use, might find something that’s more safe.

What I find interesting is that none of the 3D printer companies take time or care to educate buyers on the potential harm of Nanoparticles or UFPs (ultrafine particles). I mean, I get it. They’re going to sell less printers if the come out saying “Warning: 3D printed air might be harmful to your health”, but it might be a bigger repercussion if, in the end, they find that 3D printers end up causing cancer, death, etc., and the companies didn’t do much to warm people out of the gate.

At this point, pretty much everything on the subject of UFPs is inconclusive. ABS puts out MANY more UFPs than PLA, and PLA, because of its composition, has been shown to be biocompatible with mammals (though does not necessarily mean it’s safe, just safer than HIPS, or ABS which is made from fossil fuels.

So, going the route of having an enclosure is a good option. Lulzbot sent me links on how to build one:

The problem I’m having with just having it out in the open with vented air flow is that the air affects the print jobs from the printer (because the ambient room temperature fluctuates too much due to air flow, causing faulty/broken 3d print jobs). Maybe after a print job is complete, one could let the printer cool down and also allow for extra time in the enclosure for the surrounding air to “settle” so the UFPs are not blasting out when you open the enclosure door right away.

By the way, I’m not 100% terrified of UFPs, but I have been considering it in terms of all that has been spoken in this thread just like you all. I’m pretty much of the camp that there are probably ten other things in our lives that are slowly killing us off, but much faster than 3D printing UFPs might be. :slight_smile:

A company makes a in filter that works inside the enclosure. Its basically a fan that circulates the air through a filter. I’ll have to look for the link to the manufacturer…

I think this is it:

Plastic fumes are nothing new with 3D printing (which has been around for 30 years). People spend their entire carriers in fields like injection molding, using the same plastics, without significant health concerns with fumes. Burns are a greater risk. If you are concerned, it certainly would not hurt to use an enclosure, and vent the room when done printing. If you set up a venting and filtering system which operates while you are printing, the air movement could adversely effect the quality of your print.

I think a filter inside the enclosure is brilliant. It doesn’t seem to vent air in or out, but just circulates the internal air of the enclosure… Like a convection oven.

I just wonder how effective it could be.