3D printers are hardly dangerous. Sure, they can make things that could kill you, but the actual 3D printer itself isn't dangerous, right?
Well, that's what all of us thought until a recent study published in Atmospheric Environment called into the question the safety of 3D printers. In short, the researchers found that 3D printers emit ultrafine particles, or UFP, through its heated plastic extruder.
3D printers are industrial machines, but the desktop variants don't have "any exhaust ventilation or filtration accessories." The researchers caution that these desktop 3D printers, when in small enclosed environments, emit UFP without anywhere to go. So it only makes sense then that these particles will settle into your lungs.
Unfortunately, we don't know if the plastic used in 3D printing is hazardous to your health yet or not. It could be like asbestos and settle in your lungs for years before causing lung cancer. The researchers will continue to study the chemical compound of these plastics to determine if they pose any significant health risk.
For now, the researchers say that 3D printers should be kept in large rooms with plenty of ventilation to prevent your lungs from picking up most of the particles. Even if you're not concerned, moving your 3D printer to a larger room is a safe bet anyway. 3D printers can sometimes emit an unpleasant hot plastic smell, and you won't get it nearly as bad in a well ventilated room.
If you want to learn more about the study or the researcher's methodology, you can read the whole thing at Science Direct.[h/t: 3ders]