Back in July, a study came out arguing that 3D printers could be dangerous, especially if many are used to print ABS simultaneously in an unventilated area. Whether you’re running multiple machines out of a hackerspace or simply don’t like breathing in noxious fumes, Malcolm Langille has come up with one possible solution by throwing together a makeshift exhaust system.
Malcolm took his Type A Series 1 and placed it inside of a filing cabinet, to trap the fumes. He then 3D printed adapter rings in order to attach a fan from an old space heater to his enclosure. Next, he connected dryer vent tubing from the fan to a central vacuum to direct the gas outside. Malcolm also fixed a dimmer switch the device, giving him control over the speed of the fan pumping the fumes outdoors. Altogether, he had himself a pretty quick and dirty solution for pushing the smell of melting ABS out of his house. You can see a video of the contraption below:
Hackaday’s James Hobson, who originally covered the topic, suggests that the fan operating the ventilation system might alter the temperature around the build plate, affecting print quality. As a response, one commenter posted his heat recovery ventilator, as shown in the video below:
Others have argued for a filtering system that doesn’t just pump the air outside, with the possibility of polluting the environment, but cleans it as well. chubs1646 (presumably the 1,646th person to want the username “chubs”) uses a HEPA filter, for instance.
The project raises an interesting question about desktop machines: will future 3D printers require manufacturer-supplied ventilation or filtration systems? Or will Makers just have to take precautions? One commenter on Hackaday believes that the danger of ABS fumes are negligible in comparison to the pollution caused by making and shipping filtration systems, saying, “If for the environments sake, would the ABS fumes really do more damage to the environment than the amount of energy required to manufacture and ship a respirator cartridge?” What’s clear is that more studies need to be performed to determine the actual danger of ABS fumes to both users and the environment and how those possible dangers compare to their potential solutions.