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Monday May 11, 2020

CPSC Staff Explain Research Work and other 3D Printing Activity

A May 6 CPSC report on additive/3D printing includes an overview of agency staffers' research activities. It also fleshes out some of the potential hazards described by the staffers at a commission briefing last fall (PSL, 11/4/19) plus outlines voluntary standards and touches on other matters like current printing techniques.


The new report ( explains that research activities have included:

  • Running a project in FY2020 to identify and evaluate hazards "including assessing a variety of materials, printing equipment and printer controls, and product designs; and to assess…printer and end product use."

  • Purchasing 3D printers and testing equipment aimed at assessing stock materials for chemical emissions.

  • Nearly finishing a project with NIST to assess carbonaceous nanoscale compound in printed filaments.

  • Developing preliminary predictive models for estimating chemical emissions and safety thresholds and presenting this information at a toxicology conference.

  • Reaching an interagency agreement with NIST, EPA, and the Defense Department to assess carbon nanotubes.

  • Reaching an interagency agreement with various military agencies plus Duke University on printer materials.

  • Working with EPA and NIOSH on studying the health effects of emitted volatile organic compounds, particulates, engineered nanoparticles, and metals.

As staffers explained last autumn, the approach is to split hazards first into those from printers and the printing process versus those associated with the resulting items.


The printer/process concerns fall into the categories of thermal/fire/combustion, electrical, mechanical, chemical and special risks for inappropriate users, especially children.


The product risks run the gamut of usual CPSC attention, falling into the same categories as in the above paragraphs but involving failure to meet product rules or standards. For example, the report raises the possibility that a printed item intended for children might fail to meet provisions aimed against small parts, sharp edges, etc.