Why You Need an Air Purifier for 3D Printing

If you’re a 3D printing enthusiast or professional, you may have found yourself wondering “Do I need an air purifier for 3D printing?” Although you may not think of the printing as being dangerous, the heating of plastic filaments involved in the FDM printing process produces emissions you definitely don’t want to be breathing in. Here’s what you need to know about the fumes and particles that the printing process can produce and why you need an air purifier for 3D printing.


Fumes and Particles Released by 3D Printing


When plastic filaments are heated up, they naturally release some fumes into the air. These fumes consist of a category of gases known as VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. While some people believe that printing at lower temperatures can reduce the risks associated with fumes, the fact of the matter is that many common FDM filament materials begin emitting VOCs well below the temperatures needed to make them pliable enough for printing.


Of even greater concern  is the fact that FDM printing releases ultrafine particles, or UFPs, which are minute airborne particles. UFPs can be absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs, allowing them to spread throughout your entire body. UFP exposure has been shown to have a high rate of correlation with both lung cancer and heart disease.


Does Filament and Printer Choice Matter?


Needless to say, not all 3D printer filaments are alike. Just as they have different material properties, filaments also produce different levels of emissions. ABS and PLA, for example, produce very different amounts of both VOCs and UFPs. In fact, ABS releases UFPs at a rate about one order of magnitude higher than PLA. However, even PLA filament isn’t without its risks, since it is still classified as having a high UFP emission rate. Nylon, another common filament material, is classified as being about as risky as ABS.


Interestingly, studies have shown that there is also variation within each individual type of filament. A 2015 analysis found that spools of the same material purchased from different suppliers released notably different amounts of both VOCs and UFPs. This variance occurred even when the spools of filament were tested on precisely the same 3D printer at the same temperature. That study also found that it takes between 10 and 30 minutes for UFP levels to return to normal in a room after the printing process ends.


To a certain extent, your choice of printer does impact how many fumes and UFPs you’ll be exposed to. Industrial 3D printers often have vents built into them. Unfortunately, low-cost home 3D printers usually don’t feature vents. As a result, home 3D printing hobbyists are often exposed to higher levels of VOCs and UFPs than professionals who use 3D printers on a regular basis.


How to 3D Print Safely


Needless to say, 3D printing is both a great hobby and an essential component of many manufacturing businesses. The key to solving the problems presented by 3D printer emissions isn’t to stop your printing activities, but simply to make a few changes that will help keep you safer. One simple change you can make is to print in an open space with adequate ventilation. This will keep the fumes and particles released by the printing process from concentrating. Although it isn’t a complete solution on its own, you can also use PLA in place of ABS or nylon whenever possible, since it does produce fewer emissions.


If you really want to make sure you’re safe from harmful airborne contaminants, though, you should consider getting an air purifier for 3D printing. Using the right air purifier can help to capture both the gases and particles that 3D printers produce. It is important, however, to select the right air purifier for the job.


What Makes a Good Air Purifier for 3D Printing?


The key feature of a good 3D printing air purifier is that it includes both carbon and HEPA filtration. This is essential, since neither type of filter is able to remove all of the emissions from 3D printing on its own. Here are some of our top recommended air purifiers for 3D printing hobbyists and professionals who are working with non-vented machines:



If you have questions about selecting an air purifier for 3D printing, feel free to contact US Air Purifiers directly. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and help you select the ideal unit for your personal needs. Whether you’re a seasoned 3D printing expert or you’ve just bought your first printer, we have air purifiers that will let you enjoy 3D printing to its fullest without the risk of compromising your health.