For some years, additive manufacturing (AM) has been the subject of a considerable hype in the media under the buzzwords of 3D printers or rapid prototyping and manufacturing.
Additive manufacturing methods include any method in which a substance is built up in layers in order to produce a part. Based upon data models, these parts are produced by means of chemical and/or physical processes from liquids, powders, or material in strip or wire form.
Owing to the dramatic drop in prices, more and more installations are appearing on the market and are also being used in educational establishments such as universities and their institutes, in industrial R&D departments, and in small and medium-sized enterprises such as engineering offices and dental laboratories.
To date (2018), only few valid German studies have delivered conclusions regarding possible hazards to the health of workers during the use of additive manufacturing methods. The IFA intends to rectify this deficit by means of a “3D printer” project.
In addition, the unit responsible for the Measurement system for exposure assessment of the German Social Accident Insurance Institutions (MGU) has set up a measurement campaign in the area of exposure associated with additive manufacturing methods. Particular attention will be paid to the materials employed, such as metals, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and polylactic acid (PLA). Of particular interest are for example powder(bed)-based methods, stereolithography and fused layer modelling (FLM). For this purpose, the inhalative exposure to hazardous substances was measured in production areas and at office-type workplaces.
First results show that the inhalative exposure to powdery materials lie below the occupational exposure limit value, providing that dust-reducing measures took place. Measurements with 3D-desktop printers in a test chamber are intended for 2018.
Following completion of the test measurements, Recommendations for Hazard Identification of the Accident Insurers (EGUs) and other publications on the subject are planned.
Dr. Renate Beisser, IFA Renate.Beisser@dguv.de