I read a news story recently on safety and health testing done with 3d printers. Apparently there may be concern about gases being released. I still have dreams of getting a 3D printer as the prices continue to drop, but in my small space, any kind of dangerous gases would be out of the question.
Wondering if there are any general thoughts or experiences on this and if there are "better" printers or specific "setups" of work spaces that could minimize any danger.
This type of thing can sneak up on artists and hobbyists who get lost in the creative process, cool technology and results, they don't think about the possible dangers until it's too late. For example many years ago there were certain colors of paint used by artists that were made illegal because of the dangerous materials used to make them. These dangerous paints were used in fine art with brushes but the danger was mainly in airbrushing and breathing the atomized particles. For years there were artists who airbrushed with these and suffered serious health problems later in life. One of my art school teachers was very adamant about this. I also can remember airbrushing for illustration and graphic design and even with air filtration and a respirator I still would sneeze in the colors of the rainbow.
My worry is, the 3D printer business exploded almost overnight and there hasn't really been a ton of research into the health issues having a machine like that running continuously, heating and melting plastics for days on end.
I would say, a good rule of thumb for any of the modern maker tools (Cnc, laser cutters, 3d printers, etc) that interact with plastics and other caustic materials is to use them in a well-ventilated space, where you are not exposed to the byproducts on a regular basis. It's good if it is also isolated from the rest of your workspace. And for sprays and other materials that put aerosols in the air, use a respirator.
The Danish government did a review in 2017, do a web search for "Risk Assesment of 3d printed products" (this forum doesnt like links), and basically said nobody really knows. Its not just the gases its the nano-particles that could get into the body (theoretically).
However, I would note that some types of 3d printing, like FDM (fused deposition) has been around since the early 1990s per Wikipedia. The "explosion" of industry recently was more due to the patents expiring, which allowed the hobbyist community to jump in with a bunch of custom designed low end machines, which evolved into the current home-user focused machines.
So if anyone really knows, it is probably those workers who pioneered the tech back in the 90s, i'd wager.
Im guessing they will find out what miners, machinists, welders, etc, have discovered - splitting things into tiny pieces means some of it gets inside you and thats usually bad.