Since its inception, 3D printing has revolutionized modern manufacturing with its numerous advantages, namely the ability to produce intricate 3D objects with high precision at exceptional speeds and lower overhead costs. Manufacturers across the world utilize this novel technology for the mass production of consumer goods as well as specialized applications in additive manufacturing.
But with so many moving parts, safety is a major concern that needs to be addressed to avoid human injury and loss of property. In this blog, we’re sharing our top 8 tips for 3D printing and metal powder safety that every manufacturer should be aware of. Let’s dive in.
1. Use Reliable Printer and Materials
The most essential safety tip goes without saying. While working with 3D printers, your first and foremost consideration should be investing in high-quality printers and printing materials from reputed brands. Research thoroughly and look up unbiased reviews on public forums to ensure the materials you’re choosing have gone through rigorous testing to prevent hazards and feature the best-in-class safety measures.
2. Read Manufacturer Guidelines Carefully
Every reliable 3D printer manufacturer will supply you with instructions on how to safely set up, operate, and troubleshoot the machine. Read it thoroughly and become aware of the potential 3D printing safety hazards you may have to face and deal with.
3. Read Safety Data Sheet for Materials
Before you use any material, review its safety data sheet so you’re familiar with the dangers of using it. 3D printing involves heating up materials at extremely high temperatures, sometimes exceeding even 400°C (752°F). Many of these materials are flammable and can produce toxic fumes that can lead to headaches, dizziness, and blurred vision in the short term and serious ailments such as respiratory illnesses in the long term.
4. Wear Protective Gear
Any manufacturer serious about 3D printing and metal powder safety will never neglect protective gear. Chemical- and tear-resistant gloves and goggles are the basics, but extra precautions should be taken when working with materials that produce high levels of toxic fumes. Do not use latex gloves because they will not fully protect you from certain chemicals and will melt in the heat.
5. Avoid Touching the Printer When in Use
3D printers have many moving components that can pinch you by accident and leave you with cuts if you’re not careful. Components such as the laser bed and extruder also reach high temperatures while the printer is in use. That’s why you should avoid touching the printer while it’s working and keep in mind all mechanical 3D printing safety hazards. If you have to perform repairs or troubleshoot, do it only when the printer has completely cooled down.
6. Ensure Proper Ventilation
Toxic fumes from heated materials aren’t all you need to worry about. Inhalable nanoparticle emissions, solvent vapors, aerosols, and inert gasses such as nitrogen or argon are some other dangers you need to be aware of and take precautions against. 3D printers should never be used in a closed room. Always ensure proper ventilation to prevent inhaling harmful chemical substances and properly clean surfaces that may have come in contact with potential toxins.
7. Take Precautions Against Electrocution & Fire Hazards
Another 3D printing metal powder safety risk is electrocution and fire. Some materials are highly combustible and you have to take extra care while handling them. If your 3D printer is not enclosed properly, has faults or unguarded electrical components, then it poses a risk of fires and electrocution as well. Whenever possible, use enclosed printers to reduce the risk, keep fire hydrants stocked, be strict about scheduled maintenance, and stay alert at all times.
8. Handle Condensate With Caution
During 3D printing with metal powder in an inert gas environment, the leftover material is left behind as a hazardous concentrate on the laser bed, which is tricky to process and dispose of safely. It’s a major 3D printing safety concern among manufacturers. But fortunately, that’s not the only way to handle condensate.
A more efficient way to deal with leftover concentrate is to recycle it with condensate resin. By recycling, you can recover the valuable metal powder and get more uses out of it, all the while getting rid of the toxic chemicals. KBM’s condensate recycling program makes it easier to manage large quantities of condensate material and switch to a circular model of production that’s better for your business and the environment.
Order High-Quality, Certified 3D Printing Powder
KBM understands how important high-quality materials are for 3D printing metal powder safety. That’s why we only offer authentic products from trusted manufacturers with our direct-to-sales e-commerce supply model.
Our lead times are faster than the traditional method of ordering directly from the manufacturer. With shipping times as fast as 1-2 days, you can be sure your desired materials are just days away from the moment you place your order. Browse our range of metal powder products now and take advantage of our global distribution network to scale your advanced manufacturing business.