3D Printing and Health.
Little is known by me about three dimensional printing health issues. But I have noticed some effects that do affect my general well-being.
Here is a typical “BS” report created to support WWW advertising space. https://www.dezeen.com/2016/02/16/health-study-reveals-harmful-toxic-effects-hazards-3d-printing-illinois-institute-technology/#
The literature always warns to work in a well ventilated area. I am guilty of not doing that. My work space is not sealed but my home is very well sealed.
I live in a SIP (structural Insulated panel) constructed, high energy savings, electrically heated home. There is very little air exchange between inside to outside. Good for energy savings, bad for good ventilation.
The result is, my office/work room with the heating/cooling system running clears very well. But the printing fumes (with the amount of printing I do) can build to high levels in the entire home.
A window fan is not a cure as this space is also my office and computer area and I can’t work here without full comfort air conditioning.
I don’t (yet) have a breathing or other serious illness of which I am aware. But I do suffer from rather sever eye irritation. I am absolutely sure it is from the printing fumes from PLA, PETG, ASA, and other plastics.
I can notice the odor as far away as my bedroom and suffer some eye irritation there. My eyes fight back and will get “sandy” or crusty as my eyes try to fight the irritation.
I have found a short term cure. I run the exhaust fans in laundry, kitchen and bathroom areas and this forces enough air infiltration (over tine) to clear the house full of fumes.
This is a short term cure.
What I really need to find is a much better working arrangement or do far less 3D printing. Short term is to do far less printing.
I have taken up another creative interest, I am doing LASER engraving,
This produces a lot of smoke and fumes and cannot be operated within the conditioned living spaces of my home. It’s regulated to the garage with the overhead door (OHD) open and the ventilation fans running. In the summer here in Texas, the garage/shop temperature reaches close to 100 degrees.
I can retreat back to my conditioned office space for the CAD and design using my computers.
The 3D printers should be out there. My resin 3D printer is only used in the garage because of the fumes it will produce.
The problem for me seems to be that most of my creative hobbies tend to STINK! I really need a well ventilated separate workshop. But at my age (75) and the unfriendly HOA (Home Owners Association), that will never be a dream come true at this location. No separate shop here. I must make the best with the space I have. That gets me a bye for now.
This is all a part of the price in doing the things we enjoy. Not the the “best practice” for sure, but I do the best with what I have.
OK, Lesson Learned
I usually take the short path with many of my “not too serious” 3D FDM prints. By that I mean I don’t always set-up for proper support and using a raft for best build plate adhesion.
I tolerate a dropped edge filament strand on an overhanging edge or a slight bit of edge warping on plate adhesion.
But that is not the way to make truly outstanding FDM prints.
I am presently on the third re-start of a new FDM print I designed.
It has cost me 2X the time and materials from what is required if I had spent the set-up time (rafts and support) and started the first print with them enabled.
But what has really grabbed my attention is how much better the entire print (not yet finished) looks with a proper base established.
I see I have been kidding myself about what is truly acceptable quality.
I have been making excuses to myself that I could do better prints if I really tried. Why did I stop trying? Lazy is a good word.
I long ago gave up the “wasted materials” excuse. All creative material use activities have a process of creating scrap and wasted materials. Sharpening one’s wooden pencil produces a bin full of waste.
Reducing waste is commendable, but total elimination is not realistic in real production in real word arts and crafts.
I have been doing a little BLOG “show and tell” with prints from my new CETUS2 printer. The prints have been “very good” but not perfect. A few micro nit-pickers started enlarging the photos and taking exception to a stray filament strand here or there.
It’s their O/C personality problem, but it did send me the message. I could “do” better if I tried. Why wasn’t I trying?
The critiques were not fair judgement of the printer but rather the choices I made in slicer configuration and speeding up print times.
The lead photo shows the third try print with a proper RAFT, Edge Support, and a Purge Tower. It already looks a far better start than the first two…
It’s Just a Tool
I have to write this little story. Perhaps just the rambling thoughts of an old man. I will try to add a few pearls of wisdom that come from age and experience.
Humans have a huge advantage over all other life forms on this planet. A brain and thought process that lets us perform well outside our biological and mental limitations. It’s the ability to create and use tools.
A few animals other than human have developed primitive (in comparison) tool making/using abilities. Building a nest rather than living in a cave is a basic example.
I digress. Humans would not have survived as the top species without our tools. No doubt about that.
The best part is that we are not dependent on only the tools we can make ourself. As humans we can trade and barter for the “things” we can not make or do as an individual.
Tools became machines. Machines are just complex tools.
Jump to present day.
We try to define ourselves and our worth by the tools we have, use and display. We want the “best” tools on display as an indication of our status among peers.
But a tool is just a tool. The tool can be the best of its kind, but it’s the quality work the user produces using the tool that is most revealing.
There are “collectors of tools” and there are skilled users of tools. They can be one and the same.
A “good tool” should be judged by its suitability to purpose. A skilled user can do excellent work with less than optimum (but good) tools. But often, an unskilled user will blame the “less than best” tools for the lack of ability evident in their work.
A “perfect tool” in unskilled hands does not on its quality alone, insure great results. Again, it is just a tool. Only works as good as it is used.
The best advice I can give is to purchase or acquire the best tools you can afford and do the best work possible within the limitations. With practice and adequate skills developed, the better tools can make the work easier and perhaps faster, but seldom are the prime reason for excellence.
If it is work that creates a profit, It could be the path toward tooling upgrade.
In my many creative hobbies, I see much interest by others in the tools I use. Because the person is usually thinking of trying the hobby themself and considering the tools required. Perfectly natural.
I think I have decent quality tools and machines. The quality of things I make are far more determined by the skills I have developed using my tools than simply the “brand” of tools I use. Judging my tool from the work I produce using it, may not be a fair comparison. I can produce junk as well as beauty.
I recently received a request to do a 3D print of a specific item at a specific layer resolution at a specific speed. Also of a specific material color. This was so the requester could see how “good a job” the printer can do.
They are awaiting the delivery of the same machine I use. I can understand the request. No problem.
But the reality of the request is the machine is just a tool. Results are only as good as the person using it. The hardware of the machine is absolutely capable of outstanding results. I have no doubt.
The request was (unrealized by the requester) to show how well I could use my personal skills using the tool to fully demonstrate the tools highest ability.
Not quite a one time, push the start button and let us see what happens. request. Especially with 3D printers.
I like a challenge. So, being the nice person I am, will certainly consider (for my own information) if I will give this a try. But I certainly don’t need the test item requested.
Reviewed my 3D print slicer S.O.P. set-up variables. This was within Simplify 3D (S3D). I realized I have most of the so called “print improvement” filament ooze control features enabled all the time.
I decided I needed to re-evaluate my personal “standard” configuration. I turned OFF everything in the “Advanced/Ooze Control Behavior” panel.
I also turned off “Coast at End” and “Wipe Nozzle” in the Extruder/Ooze Control panel.
Only variable active was “Retraction” with a value of 6.5 mm and 1500 mm/min speed. The recommendations for my printer. I also use a “hop” nozzle vertical lift distance of 0.5 mm. Avoids surface drag with rapid head moves and helps (I believe) with clean filament retraction.
Test results on several new prints are showing MUCH IMPROVED appearance with all the Ooze “Shucking and Jiving” variables turned off.
It clear to me (now) that the Ooze controls are nice to have when needed with "dificult filament types" but better looking surface on prints are possible with them all turned off. Clearly they are “use when needed” features and do not need to be configured or left in a “standard” value (other than OFF) for all prints.
OFF, surely creates less gcode and far less axis movements. Increasing print speed and reducing wear and tear of rapid and jerky head actions.
My new “Standard Configuration” is Ooze Control OFF unless needed. My prints are already thanking me.
Too Much Plastic?
I never see it discussed in the realm of three dimensional printing with plastic. I have often given the subject some conscious thought. But have never let it hinder my creation of things of plastic. I do have a definite awareness that this may not be the best choice as a building material.
Plastic is, however, very convenient. Does that justify its use? Something to ponder.
There is one form of plastic named polylatic acid (PLA) that is highly touted as being a bio-degradable plastic made from corn. It supposedly will decompose somewhat like a piece of hardwood buried in the soil of the planet earth. However, there are many varieties and blends of PLA used with 3D printing.