3D printers are great for many applications and require zero maintenance or water solubilities like inkjet or laser printers.
The best thing about a 3D printer is that you don’t need expensive materials to produce real products because you need some little models and software, one light-proof box or chamber full of paper scraps, or small sponge blocks.
The 3D printing process is known to produce fumes and other air pollutants that necessitate some sort of clean up and this may well be achieved using ventilation.
Do 3D Printers need Ventilation?
Yes, 3D printers need sufficient ventilation to guarantee optimized, sustainable and safe operations. 3D printers do use a lot of plastic, so it’s best to have some type of ventilation in your space as plastic is hot when it comes out of the printer.
Air quality can be affected by 3D printing as well, but for the most part, fresh air will diffuse any chemical smells that come with the heat.
Some of the common chemicals or materials used during 3d printing, and which may result in dangerous emissions are ABS, PLA, Resin, and Nylon.
Also, the printing processed releases a lot of heat that needs to be dissipated to avoid damage to the particular printing elements. Ventilation can also help a lot in this regard.
How Do you Ventilate 3D Printer Fumes?
3D ventilation is aimed at ensuring that you the operator continue operating in a safe environment.
Therefore, there are many ways to ensure you do not suffer from short or long-term effects of exposure to the fumes released by 3D printers.
You can achieve 3D Printer ventilation by using any or all of the three options below.
1. Print in an open area
The basic way to ensure that the fumes generated by the printing process dissipate fast to have concentration levels that are within the acceptable range is to do the printing in an open space.
Unlike in rooms where airflow is restricted by walls, open spaces ensure that when the fumes are generated they quickly disperse into the atmosphere thus reducing their concentration gradient around the areas of operation, which then means the person operating the printer faces minimal exposure.
2. Use an enclosed Printer
You can use enclosures to trap the fumes and other particulate waste that may be generated during the printing process.
The enclosure may then be removed after the printing is done, and in areas where the trapped fumes would be released with no or minimal effect on the air inhaled by the operator.
In most cases, enclosures are transparent glass or plastic material which ensures that the operator still can monitor the progress of the printing process.
3. Install Air Extractors
Air extractors help remove air from a room when the natural air circulation does not guarantee fast removal of polluted air from the room through the windows, doors, or other ventilation openings.
The air extraction fans can be attached to any standard-sized windows, and are meant to serve two purposes: either drawing out the room’s indoor air or introducing fresh air from the outside.
Furthermore, having a window fan will provide air movement in the room, which is good because the emissions would build up if you do not have air circulation.
4. Use Air Purifiers
If you feel that your room is still not receiving adequate ventilation, an air purifier might be a supplementary item.
To be absolutely clear, air purifiers should not be depended on entirely.
They can only remove a certain amount of air pollutants, and if you are operating a 3D printer in a totally sealed environment, it will be overpowered.
The particulate matter and VOCs should both be removable by the purifier you want to settle with before you purchase it.
HEPA filters and charcoal filters should be your priority features in air purifiers. In addition, ionizing technologies should also be included as key features of the particular air purifier.
3D Printer Enclosure Ventilation
A 3D printer enclosure will require a particular ventilation system depending on the size of the enclosure and the number of enclosed nozzles.
If the printer is enclosed in the up-down horizontal dimension, it would be better to use an axial circulation fan with a directional vent designed for such a layout.
This would increase airflow through some openings at one end of that shaft while exhausting at other openings on the opposite ends.
For example, this type of vent works well when installed vertically down an exhaust opening about one third the height of the machine;
Alternatively, if you were trying to regulate airflow in a horizontal x-z dimension inside your enclosure (like most printers), you might want to consider air baffles or grids.
3D Printer Ventilation Requirements
There are two aspects of 3D printer ventilation that need to be addressed when deciding on the right setting for your machine.
To get started with these calculations, let’s take a look at why it is required in the first place.
In this scenario, we will assume that you have an adjacent office space where a person may work without being affected by fumes generated from your printing process.
The three most common factors influencing 3D printer ventilation requirements are ink material, exterior environment, and design complexity of object being printed – because more complex objects use more filament (and generate more heated air), which also means they produce higher levels of vaporized filament particles.
3D printers are great for creating prototypes and custom items, but they also generate a lot of heat that needs to be dissipated.
If you want your printer to last longer than the average “expected” lifespan, it’s important not only to keep the machine clean from dust or other particles that will clog up the nozzle but also to ensure there is proper ventilation.
Consider installing an exhaust fan near your 3D printer so hot air can escape into the room instead of building up in front of it.