In an effort to curb the emissions from 3D printing, Zortrax has unveiled air filtration covers for its M200 and M200+ 3D printers. Packing both HEPA and carbon filters, the device is said to tackle both the UFPs and from materials like ABS.
While the direct effects of 3D printing and the hazards it presents are subject to much research currently, the long-term health effects of operating desktop 3D printers is still a little foggy, given the tech’s nascense in the home.
However, there’s no denying that FDM printing does result in the release of ultra fine particles (UFPs) into the air.
Regardless of whether home 3D printing releases enough to be harmful, any is still worse than none. We’ve seen desktop 3D printers outfitted with air filters to combat this, but their adoption is not nearly as commonplace as one would hope.
Zortrax, the Polish manufacturer of a couple of 3D printers designed to print materials like ABS better than most, is going some way to remedy this, and has just unveiled a HEPA filter addon for its M200 and M200+ 3D printers.
The company’s new solution to air quality control is a two-filter system, sealing the print chamber in tandem with its printer’s sidewalls and channeling the chamber airflow through both a carbon fan and HEPA filter.
In addition to eliminating the odor emitted by materials such as ABS (which they excel at and is primarily pitched for) and removing UFPs, the company claims the system will improve print quality by reducing the likelihood of warping. From our standpoint that makes sense – materials like ABS are rather temperature sensitive when printing, and sealing the chamber will keep the temperature around the print consistent.
HEPA HEPA Hurray
In a detailed post explaining the science behind UPFs and their capture, Zortrax’s Hardware Development Manager, Robert Klaczński, explains:
“Recent studies have shown that a working 3D printer emits varying quantities of ultra fine particles (UFP). Precisely, peak emissions for 3D printing with ABS-based materials consist of particles in the 14 nm to 49 nm size range.”
A filter meets HEPA designation when it can effectively filter minimum percentage of UFPs measuring 300 microns — however, the composition and arrangement of the filtering inside a HEPA filter means that particle of a variety of sizes are effectively captured, including those smaller than the 100 micron range.
How it captures these smaller particles (that are commonly found to be released by 3D printers), relies on the Brownian-esque motion they follow — basically, these particular particles are so small that they are subject to constant buffeting by the particles they pass by as they fly through the air. Instead of traveling in smooth straight lines as larger particles might, they erratically zig-zag.
This predictably unpredictable motion mean that almost all of the smaller than 100-micron particles come into contact with the filter’s fibers and are captured.
The HEPA takes care of the UFPs, but that alone won’t eliminate the stench of ABS and its smelly compatriots. It’s nice to see Zortrax take this air filtration another step further with the inclusion of a carbon filter, which does capture the odorous nasties released when printing.
We suspect this system has derived from Zortrax’s work on its Inventure 3D printing system, so there’s some degree of pedigree behind it.
This new add-on is currently only compatible with the company’s M200 and recently announced M200+ 3D printers. No word on yet on when it will ship, or if a supersized version will be made available for the company’s larger M300 printer.