Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have found that some printed pieces in commercial 3D printers, are toxic to some fish embryos.
These results may raise some questions about the safety of these parts when used in people’s everyday lives, in the classroom and in homes.
No doubt that more and more 3D printers are like “factories” in a box. But the conventional industrial plants, such as production and processing we know, have certain characteristics when it comes to the environment we breathe, hygiene and health of the materials that are used.
As the professor of bioengineering Faculty of Engineering Bourns, William Grover, “the factories are regulated, have their own, controlled environment, and we did not want to have that environment in our homes, but now we are bringing to our homes these plants.”
Researchers have studied two common types of 3D printers: one which melts the plastic to build the part and another that uses light to transform a liquid in a solid part.
They found that both kinds of 3D printers processes were toxic to the zebrafish embryo, indicating that the print process with the liquid base was the most toxic of the two.
Researchers have developed, however, a simple post-press treatment, put the printed parts exposed to ultraviolet light. This treatment reduced the toxicity of the liquid parts of the printer base.
But why this study?
The market for 3D printers is growing a giant form and there are very few studies about the various inputs. Already with regard to values involving this market, Canalys report realize that the popularity of 3D printers is increasing.
The market value of these printers has grown from 288 million to 2.5 billion dollars in 2013 and it is estimated that go reach 16.2 billion dollars in 2018.
Already the price of 3D printers continues to fall. Printers that melt plastic can now be found in the market below $ 200 and those using liquid for 3D printing can now be purchased under $ 3,000. These devices are coming out of the industrial market, market research for small businesses and for the domestic segment and a very quick way, is what has raised important issues in the security chapter.
Do we know whether it is toxic or not the 3D printing process?
The substances used to be melted and converted into 3D parts must be regulated and have control of toxicity, although as the investigators, it is still a complicated process since there are many manufacturers of these printers and components. Still can not identify all that is placed on the market, mainly because it is still a new and without a well-defined market direction. There is however urgent to realize that security is assured.