Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study shows some 3-D printed objects are toxic

05.11.2015

Researchers find zebrafish embryos die at alarming rates when exposed to certain 3-D printed materials

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have found parts produced by some commercial 3D printers are toxic to certain fish embryos. Their results have raised questions about how to dispose of parts and waste materials from 3D printers.


From left is, 3-D printing liquid, 3-D-printed piece from liquid resin and liquid resin piece treated with ultraviolet light.

Credit: UC Riverside

"These 3D printers are like tiny factories in a box," said William Grover, an assistant professor of bioengineering in the Bourns College of Engineering. "We regulate factories. We would never bring one into our home. Yet, we are starting to bring these 3D printers into our homes like they are toasters."

The researchers studied two common types of 3D printers: one that melts plastic to build a part, and another that uses light to turn a liquid into a solid part. They found that parts from both types of printers were measurably toxic to zebrafish embryos, and parts from the liquid-based printer were the most toxic. They also developed a simple post-printing treatment - exposure to ultraviolet light - that reduced the toxicity of parts from the liquid-based printer.

The research comes as the popularity of 3D printers is soaring. The value of the 3D printing market grew from $288 million in 2012 to $2.5 billion in 2013 and is projected to grow to $16.2 billion by 2018, according to a report by Canalys.

And, as the price of 3D printers continues to drop -printers that use melted plastic are currently available for as little as $200, and the liquid-based printer used in this study can be bought for less than $3,000 - they are moving beyond industry and research labs to homes and small businesses.

The research started about a year ago when Grover bought a 3D printer for his lab. Shirin Mesbah Oskui, a graduate student in Grover's lab, is developing tools for studying zebrafish embryos, and she wanted to use the printer in her research. However, her plans were thwarted when she noticed that zebrafish embryos die after exposure to parts from the 3D printer.

From those observations, Oskui and Grover then decided to test the toxicity of printed objects from the two types of 3D printers. Their results are described in a paper, "Assessing and Reducing the Toxicity of 3D-Printed Parts," which was published online today (Nov. 4) in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters. Joining Oskui and Grover as authors on the paper are Jay Gan and Daniel Schlenk, professors in the Department of Environmental Sciences; Graciel Diamante, a graduate student working with Schlenk; and Chunyang Liao and Wei Shi, both of whom work in Gan's lab.

Oskui used two commercial 3D printers in their study, a Dimension Elite printer made by Stratasys (which uses melted plastic to build parts) and a Form 1+ stereolithography printer made by Formlabs (which uses liquid resin to make parts).

She used each printer to create disc-shaped parts, about an inch in diameter. Then she placed the discs in petri dishes with zebrafish embryos and studied survival rates and hatch rates and monitored for developmental abnormalities.

While the embryos exposed to parts from the plastic-melting printer had slightly decreased average survival rates compared to control embryos, the embryos exposed to parts from the liquid-resin printer had significantly decreased survival rates, with more than half of the embryos dead by day three and all dead by day seven. And of the few zebrafish embryos that hatched after exposure to parts from the liquid-resin printer, 100 percent of the hatchlings had developmental abnormalities.

Oskui also investigated methods for reducing the toxicity of parts from the liquid-resin printer. She found that after exposing the parts to ultraviolet light for one hour, the parts are significantly less toxic to zebrafish embryos. The UC Riverside Office of Technology Commercialization has filed a patent for this work.

The researchers' findings call attention to regulations related to the materials used to create 3D printed parts.

The substances used to create the 3D-printed parts would be regulated by the Toxic Substances Control Act, which is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency. But the precise identity of these substances is often unknown to researchers and printer users because the printer manufacturers don't disclose this information.

In the future, the researchers plan to further study the toxicity of the components of the 3D printer material both individually and when mixed together in a completed part. They also want to find out at what level the material could be harmful to humans.

Other unanswered questions include how to dispose of the waste material - both solid and liquid - created by 3D printers. At this point, the researchers think it is best to take it to a hazardous waste center.

"Many people, including myself, are excited about 3D printing," Grover said. "But, we really need to take a step back and ask how safe are these materials?"

###

This work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation's Instrument Development for Biological Research Program via Grant DBI-1353974.

Media Contact

Sean Nealon
sean.nealon@ucr.edu
951-827-1287

 @UCRiverside

http://www.ucr.edu 

Sean Nealon | EurekAlert!

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer
20.10.2017 | Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona

nachricht Metallic nanoparticles will help to determine the percentage of volatile compounds
20.10.2017 | Lomonosov Moscow State University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>