3D Printer Policy
The objective of this policy is to establish health and safety requirements for using 3D printers in University of Florida facilities. The policy is presented in recognition of the continued expansion of 3D printer use by faculty, staff and students. Studies have indicated that 3D printers are capable of generating potentially harmful concentrations of ultrafine particles (UFP) and chemical vapors during the print process and through processes used following printing to treat the finished product.
By authority delegated from the University President, the Vice-President for Business Affairs is responsible for the safety of all University facilities. Under this authority, policies are developed to provide a safe teaching, research, service, housing and recreational environment.
Governor’s Executive Order Number 00-292; Occupational Safety and Health Act Sec 5 (General Duty Clause)
The 3D Printer Policy establishes the minimum requirements necessary to allow for the safe use of 3D printers located in the University of Florida buildings. The policy covers all 3D printers including but not limited to those affiliated with the sciences, medicine, fine arts, performing arts, engineering, libraries and arts and craft studios.
Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S)
EH&S will be responsible for the review and approval of all 3D printer purchases.
Purchasing review will consider the type of printer, the type of print media to be used and the proposed location of the printer set-up before approval is granted.
EH&S may request the modification of proposed printer location or the addition of improved exhaust ventilation before purchasing approval is granted.
EH&S has final authority over all safety issues and may immediately halt any operations or procedures it considers unsafe at any time at its discretion.
Principal Investigators (PI) and Managers with 3D printer oversight
The PI and 3D printer managers are responsible for enforcing the provisions of this policy including compliance with the training requirements.
Print supervisors are responsible for providing required personal protective equipment (PPE) and enforcing its correct use.
Users of 3D printers (Faculty, staff, students)
Individuals shall receive training in the correct and safe operation of the 3D printer including Hazard Communication (HAZCOM) training relevant to the media and other chemical products used in the printing process.
Required personal protective equipment shall be used.
No eating or drinking is allowed in areas where 3D printers are present.
The two most commonly used types of 3D printer media are Polylactic Acid (PLA) and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS). When heated during the print process, both media types produce large concentrations of ultrafine particles (UFP). Exposures to UFP or nanoparticles, particularly at high concentrations, have been associated with adverse health effects. Elevated concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and other potentially harmful chemical compounds can also be produced during the printing process.
Generally speaking, ABS represents a greater health and safety risk than PLA media.
The following sections will serve to address the health and safety issues associated with 3D printers.
3D printers using PLA media exclusively may be set-up in any workspace having at least 4 air changes per hour.
The number of PLA printers in one location should be limited by the size of the space. One printer per standard office and no more than two printers for a standard classroom or workroom is allowable. Requests for the placement of multiple PLA printers in any space must be reviewed by EH&S before proceeding.
3D printers using ABS media, including printers designed and set-up to use both PLA and ABS may only be used in work areas having a dedicated exhaust system or one pass air and at least six air changes per hour.
It is recommended that printers using ABS media be fully enclosed and equipped with local exhaust ventilation or used within a fume hood whenever possible.
3D printers using other types of media, including but not limited to thermoplastics, photopolymers, nylon, high impact polystyrene, high density polyethylene, metal filament, biological media or other uncommon medias shall be reviewed by EH&S on a case by case basis with specific precautions required based on the hazards unique to the printing process.
Locations where 3D printers using combustible media such as powdered metals or carbon nanotubes must be reviewed and in compliance with fire safety and other health and safety requirements before the printer begins operation.
All printers must be installed according to the manufacturer’s requirements and according to NFPA 72 National Electric Code (current code requirements can be found at http://www.ehs.ufl.edu/programs/buildcode/codes/ .
Safety Data Sheets (SDS) must be provided for all print media and for any other chemical product used in the printing process. SDS must be readily accessible for review in the event of an emergency.
Safety interlock switches must be enabled and working properly during printer operation.
Operators must be protected from hot surfaces associated with the printers.
If UV light is used in the curing process, personal protective equipment and/or shielding must be utilized to protect personnel.
All users working directly with a 3D printer and associated media are required to have hazard communication (HAZCOM) training covering any hazardous materials used in the process.
Completion of the training must be documented in writing with the records maintained by the manager of the printing operation.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Requirements
Follow all PPE recommendations found in the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for the specific printer media used.
Eye protection is required during any activity where airborne projectiles may be present (i.e. cutting off rough edges of a printed item).
For print processes using an alkaline bath to dissolve support material, an emergency eyewash will be required in the immediate vicinity of the work.
A spill kit capable of neutralizing the caustic components of the alkaline bath shall also be provided.
Policy #: UFEHS-3DPrint-05/25/16; Reviewed/Revised 06/27/19
Issued: May 25, 2016