OASE INTERNS AT NORTHWEST GREEN CHEMISTRY

Britany Swann (top)

Major: MS in Chemical Engineering

University: Oregon State University

 

 

 

Ashley Baker (bottom)

Major: MS in Multimedia Journalism

University: University of Oregon

 

AT A GLANCE

Industry: Green chemistry and engineering

Project Type: 3D printing hazard assessment

Year: 2018

Location: Portland, OR

 

 

PROJECT SUMMARY

Ashley Baker and Britany Swann interned with NW Green Chemistry to survey 3D printer users across Oregon to better understand its potential human health and environmental impacts, and recommended safety and sustainability best practices for 3D printer use.

Questions about this project? Contact Lisa Cox

BACKGROUND

   

Additive manufacturing (AM) is a process that creates a physical object from a digital design through depositing material in layers, and offers reduced energy and material consumption compared to traditional manufacturing. Three-dimensional (3D) printing is a subset of AM, and although its use is rapidly growing in Oregon, the human health and environmental impacts from potentially hazardous compounds emitted during this process are largely unregulated. Studies have shown that 3D printing activities produce airborne nano-sized particles that can pose risks to heart and lung health. 

To better understand the landscape of AM practices in Oregon, interns Swann and Baker worked with NW Green Chemistry to:

  1. Survey users to assess the current state of 3D printing across Oregon. 
  2. Develop a reference list of useful research to inform the survey and best practices recommendations (available upon request to Lisa Cox).
  3. Recommend best practices to serve as a roadmap to fill current information gaps and improve safety standards.

Summary of Survey Findings

  • 51 industry, community, and educational 3D printer users in Oregon responded to the survey (68% response rate).
  • Collectively, respondents threw out about 1,700 pounds of plastic each year due to 3D printing activities, most of which went to landfills.
  • The most common 3D printing technologies used were: Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) and Stereolithography (SLA). In FDM, objects are built by forcing out threadlike plastic from a heated nozzle. SLA uses two synthetic materials that, when exposed to a particular wavelength of light, combine to form a solid, 3D object. 
  • Ventilation was a concern for about 80% of 3D printer users that responded to this survey. In many cases, 3D printers were in spaces lacking ventilation systems that could appropriately filter for airborne chemical hazards associated with 3D printing.
  • Descriptions of standard operating procedures used in many community and academic organizations did not properly address the risk of chemical exposure.
  • 27 of the 51 respondents gave information regarding PPE, of which most (74%) have access to some type of personal protective equipment.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Prevent chemical exposure. Create safety standards (e.g., for personal protective equipment, printer temperature settings, ventilation and air filtration systems). Build off existing systems to standardize and communicate hazard classifications of materials. Perform rigorous emissions testing on materials and equipment.
  • Fill information gaps. Create visuals that convey risk exposure prevention, waste disposal, and safety standards. 
  • Collaborate. Form partnerships between regulatory agencies, materials manufacturers, academic research centers, research hospitals, and NGO's to study the health effects from AM materials and develop solutions to reduce toxins. 
  • Innovate. Use green chemistry principles when developing new AM tools. 

These recommendations have the potential to:

    

prevent chemical exposure

  

reduce waste

   

fill information gaps

   

increase collaboration
 

   

inspire innovation