Occupational exposure to gaseous and particulate contaminants originating from additive manufacturing of liquid, powdered and filament plastic materials and related post-processes
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CitationVäisänen, Antti. Hyttinen, Marko. Ylönen, Sampsa. Alonen, Lauri. (2019). Occupational exposure to gaseous and particulate contaminants originating from additive manufacturing of liquid, powdered and filament plastic materials and related post-processes. Journal of occupational and environmental hygiene, 16 (3) , 258-271. 10.1080/15459624.2018.1557784.
The aim of this study was to measure the concentrations of gaseous and particulate contaminants originated from additive manufacturing operations and post-processes in an occupational setting when plastics were used as feedstock materials. Secondary aims were to evaluate the concentration levels based on proposed exposure limits and target values and to propose means to reduce exposure to contaminants released in additive manufacturing processes. Volatile organic compounds were sampled with Tenax TA adsorption tubes and analyzed with a thermo desorption gas chromatography-mass spectrometry instrument. Carbonyl compounds were sampled with DNPH-Silica cartridges and analyzed with a high-performance liquid chromatography device. Particles were measured with P-Trak instrument and indoor air quality was sampled with IAQ-Calc instrument. Dust mass concentrations were measured simultaneously with a DustTrak DRX instrument and IOM-samplers. Particle concentrations were highest (2070-81 890 #/cm3 mean) during manufacturing with methods where plastics were thermally processed. Total volatile organic compounds concentrations, in contrast, were low (113–317 µg/m3 mean) during manufacturing with such methods, and vat photopolymerization. However, total volatile organic compounds concentrations of material jetting and multi jet fusion methods were higher (1,114–2,496 µg/m3 mean), perhaps because of material and binder spraying, where part of the spray can become aerosolized. Chemical treatment of manufactured objects was found to be a severe volatile organic compounds source as well. Formaldehyde was detected in low concentrations (3–40 µg/m3) in all methods except for material jetting method, in addition to several other carbonyl compounds. Notable dust concentrations (1.4–9.1 mg/m3) were detected only during post-processing of powder bed fusion and multi jet fusion manufactured objects. Indoor air quality parameters were not found to be notably impacted by manufacturing operations. Only low concentrations (below 2 ppm) of CO were detected during several manufacturing processes. All studied additive manufacturing operations emitted potentially harmful contaminants into their environments, which should be considered in occupational additive manufacturing and workplace design. According to the measured contaminant levels it is possible that adverse additive manufacturing related health effects may occur among exposed workers.