3D printers are becoming increasingly popular and can be found in schools, universities, workplaces, and even homes. While they are an excellent marvel of modern technology, 3D printer emissions can negatively impact indoor air quality. Thankfully, a 3D printer air purifier provides a viable solution that will allow you to breathe safe air while using your printer.
Are 3D Printers Dangerous For Health?
3D heat plastics to temperatures above 300°C that can make the material unstable, causing it to release fine particles and fumes into the surrounding air. These fine particles and fumes can act as allergens and can even lead to cancer, according to studies.
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Types of 3D Printer Pollutants
The Molten Polymer Deposition technique 3D printers employ to model plastics releases Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and ultrafine particles (UFPs) into the indoor air.
Both of these pollutants are different and require different types of air purification to remove them from indoor air. A simple HEPA air purifier is not enough to tackle harmful fumes and while adding a carbon filter can improve the filtration efficiency, there are other alternatives available too.
To understand which air purifiers would be efficient against 3D printer pollutants, it is important to understand the 3D printer particulates first.
Ultrafine particles (UFPs)
3D printing hobbyists and professionals need to be careful of ultrafine particles that can easily escape a mesh pre-filter or even a low-grade HEPA filter. Ultrafine particles are air quality hazards that can irritate the airways and aggravate asthma symptoms.
UFPs are the most common type of 3D printing pollutants and while well-sealed machine bodies can help bring down particulate matter, solely depending on the 3D printer manufacturer is not recommended. Moreover, the 3D printer enclosure must be made in a particular manner to stop any particles from escaping.
These particles are tiny and can be as small as 0.1 microns in size.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
Volatile organic compounds are more difficult to remove because of their even finer size. 3D printing emissions can have a ton of VOCs because of the melting plastics and because of the working of the 3D printer filaments.
According to studies, VOCs are dangerous for health and can even cause cancer. Some manufacturers use a well-designed and sturdy box to tackle the various VOCs produced during the 3D printing process. But because they are extremely small, they can easily escape even an H13 grade HEPA filter.
Do Air Purifiers Work for 3D Printer Fumes And Particulates?
Yes. Air purifiers can bring down 99.99% of airborne contaminants like VOCs and UFPs, acting as potential hazards. Continued exposure to 3D printer pollution can prove detrimental to health, and the right air purifier technology can make your indoor air safe to breathe in.
What type of air purifier is best for 3D printer pollution?
Photoelectrochemical oxidation (PECO) air purifiers are best against 3D printing pollution. According to various studies, a PECO air purifier can filter out airborne contaminants as small as 0.1 nm and can also destroy organic matter that can escape traditional filters.
Thinking that a PECO air purifier might be superior won’t be wrong, but there’s more to it than just that. Granted, it surpasses the efficiency of traditional air filters, and the effectiveness against VOCs and UFPs makes it ideal for 3D printing. Still, the other air purifiers can be just as good at a much cheaper price point.
Traditional air purifiers with advanced air quality sensors can easily take care of toxic compounds while also taking care of any unpleasant odor. An air purifier with the right mix of pre-filter, true HEPA filters, activated carbon filters, and UV-C light chambers offer excellent all-round protection at a fraction of the cost of a dedicated PECO purifier.
The overall protection offered in this case is very similar to that of PECO ones, and you can save a lot of money in the process.
Efficacy of Different Filter Types Against 3D Printer Pollutants
Pre-filters can’t do much against 3D printer pollutants, but they can extend the life of the HEPA filters by trapping big particles.
HEPA filters can remove up to 99.97% of airborne contaminants, the other according to the EPA, and are particularly effective against most 3D printing pollutants. These can’t remove odors and gases but are efficient against particulate matter.
Activated Carbon Filters
These are efficient against VOCs and odors released in the 3D printing process. In combination with HEPA filters, activated carbon filters can prove efficient.
Negative Ion Generators
These can help make the particulate matter heavy and cause them to drop out of the air resulting in increased dust. The dust can then be removed either manually, or any airborne dust will be taken care of by the pre-and HEPA filters.
The best air purifiers for 3D Printers use a combination of all the different filters and technologies to provide clean, healthy air that is safe to breathe in.
Best Air Purifier for 3D Printer
Here are the top 3 air purifiers that are most suitable and come with HEPA filters for 3D printer fumes and VOCs.
1. IQAir HealthPro Plus
IQAir HealthPro Plus brings an H13 HEPA air purifier that can filter out even the finest particles when working with 3D printers. IQAir’s EvenFlow Diffuser technology ensures a wide and far-reaching airflow that will take care of larger rooms too.
The purifier can deliver up to 300 CFM (cubic feet per minute) and can clean 1,125 square feet of space twice an hour, making it an ideal choice for large rooms.
The purifier uses a 3 stage filtration system with
- A Prefilter
- A HyperHEPA Filter
- An Activated Carbon Filter
The HyperHEPA filter in the IQAir HealthPro Plus is more effective than ordinary HEPA filters for particulate matter. For the gaseous pollutants and odors, the V5-Cell Activated carbon filter provides ample protection.
This filter comprises 5 pounds of adsorbent activated carbon and alumina which can effectively trap odors, VOCs, chemicals, and gases.
2. Levoit Vital 100 Air Purifier
The Levoit Vital 100 Air Purifier also houses an H13 HEPA filter like the IQAir Pro, but the offering from Levoit is very quiet and won’t make noticeable noise even when placed next to the 3D printer.
The cleaner can easily handle dirt specks, dust, and all 3D printer pollutants. LEVOIT Vital 100 is featured on our list because of its washable pre-filter that can be cleaned whenever the printer is being maintained.
The medical-grade H13 HEPA filter handles airborne particles with 99.97% accuracy and can even filter particles down to a size of 0.3 microns. For the VOCs and odors, the air purifier has a honeycomb-activated carbon filter.
However, the Vital 100 only has a CADR of 130 CFM, making it unfit for larger rooms but an ideal choice for small to medium-sized rooms.
3. Alen BreatheSmart 75i
Alen BreatheSmart 75i features in every good air purifier list thanks to its exceptional design and high CADR of 400 CFM. Even with such a high CADR, the cleaner can be whisper-quiet, making it an excellent choice for your 3D printer space.
Alen’s all-in-one filter does not need to be maintained and can last a whole year without replacements. The single filter houses the pre-filter, H13 HEPA filter, and activated carbon filter layers.
Alen’s Heavy Odor Filter has a higher activated carbon content than most of the competition, making it effective against VOCs, chemical fumes, allergens, microbes, and other 3D printer pollutants.
Thanks to the high CADR, the purifier can easily clean 1000 sq. ft. of space effectively 5 times an hour, making it an excellent choice for larger rooms.
As the Breathesmart 75i can cater to the needs of more than one 3D purifier, its high cost can be justified. It is an excellent purifier, but the high cost of replacement filters can be a letdown for some.
Also Read: 7 Best Air Purifier for VOCs (2022)
3D Printer Air Purifier isn’t just good for the people working around 3D printers but also helps remove airborne particulate matter that can negatively affect the life of the 3D printer. 3D printing equipment is expensive and having dust around it that can unnecessarily cause damage is not recommended.
Investing in an air purifier can significantly improve the quality of indoor air while also helping extend the life of the 3D printer.