Material Information

You're Printing What? Where? The material stability and safety of 3D printing thermoplastic polymers for fused filament fabrication
Durant, Fletcher
Bharti, Neelam
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
Conference Poster


The rapid growth and adoption of 3D printing technologies has or will soon bring a new generation of printed polymer objects into our collections. With almost half a million printers shipped in 2016 alone, 3D printed objects are likely to stay with us for as long as the polymers last. While 3D printing encompasses a variety of distinct processes, fused filament fabrication (FFF) is the most popular and accessible 3D printing technology, utilizing a heated nozzle head to deposit layers of polymer into a computer generated design. FFF is widely used in museums, arts, and educational settings as a low-cost teaching tool. At the University of Florida (UF), we have printed exhibit mounts, archaeological replicas for classroom use, and prosthetics for a children’s charity. Despite the widespread adoption of FFF technology, little testing has been done to understand the stability of the thermoplastic polymers used in these printers. To better understand the long-term stability of the variety of polymers compatible with the 3D printers at UF, the UF Libraries are undertaking Oddy testing on the commercially available polymers to understand their long-term stability for possible use in collection storage and display. The results of this testing will help conservators make key materials decisions for the health and safety of our collections and our creators. Materials testing will provide insights to potential hazards entering collections as well as potential tools for use in creating custom housings and exhibit mounts.
Collected for University of Florida's Institutional Repository by the UFIR Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Fletcher Durant.
General Note:
Presented at the American Institute for Conservation of Artistic and Historic Works Annual Meeting 2018 in Houston, TX.

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Source Institution:
University of Florida Institutional Repository
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University of Florida
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All rights reserved by the submitter.


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thermoplastic polymers for fused filament fabrication. ODDY TEST This project used the Autry Museum Oddy Testing Protocols as found on the Conservation Wiki: http://www.conservation 1. Place sample into 10mL beaker 2. Hang metal coupons over edge of beaker 3. Place beaker into 45mL Kimax weighing jar 4. Pipe 0.5 mL of deionized water into bottom of jar 5. Apply light coating of Dow Corning high vacuum grease to ground glass fitting and seal lid 6. Place jars in oven set to 60 C 7. Check results after 28 days and compare to control set FUSED FILAMENT FABRICATION Fused filament fabrication (FFF) is the most popular method of 3 D printing. FFF printers extrude thermoplastic filament through a heated nozzle head to create a physical representation of a Stereolithography (.STL) file (created through a variety of design or scanning programs). Printers can use a variety of materials dependent upon the specifications of the printer, with most consumer grade printers capable of handling a extrusion temperatures of 80 C to 300 C. This technology is affordable and offers new avenues in treatments, housings, and exhibition, however little testing has been undertaken to date on the suitability of the polymer filaments for heritage applications. This project sought to identify polymer filaments that may be considered for use with heritage collections by Oddy testing a set of commercially available filaments that are pro sumer model FFF printers. MATERIALS CONCLUSION The testing found that most commercially available filaments are not suitable for use with heritage materials. 12 of the 14 filaments failed the Oddy testing. All 12 showed corrosion, white accretions, or rust colored accretions on the lead coupons indicating organic acids, aldehydes, or acidic gases. 9 of the 14 filaments also had corrosion on the copper coupons indicating chloride, oxide, or sulfur compounds. Only the Taulman Natural 645 Nylon and the Taulman TECH G PETG filaments passed this round of Oddy tests. While many of the tested filaments were selected because their polymer base has passed Oddy testing in other formulations, these commercial filaments may contain additives. The testing had results similar to those found by Flexer Larkin, and Carter 1 on PLA (fail) and Nylon (pass), but the qualitative amount of corrosion documented was less extensive than in those earlier tests. Continued testing and sourcing of filament is recommended for heritage applications. 1 G. Flexer potential uses June 17, 2016. FURTHER RESEARCH While the suitability of FFF polymers for use in collections was the focus of this project, there are other substantial concerns about the safety of FFF printing on human health, as the thermoplastic filament undergoes partial thermo decomposition during printing releasing Ultra Fine Particles (UFP) and Volatile Organic Compounds during printing. The rate of UFP emissions is related to the temperature of extrusion as found by Bharti and Singh. 2 Recent research by Wojtyla Klama and Baran 3 have found that ABS, PLA, and Nylon emit potentially dangerous compounds such as styrene, butanol cyclohexanone ethylbenzene and other VOCs during printing. These substances raise concerns about the suitability of bringing FFF into conservation labs that may not be able to isolate or filter UFP/VOCs sufficiently to minimize risks to staff members When printing, users should have good ventilation or wear appropriate PPE. 2 N. Bharti N. & Singh, S. 2017. Three Dimensional (3D) printers in libraries: Perspective and preliminary safety analysis. Journal of Chemical Education. 94(7): 879 885. DOI: 10.1021/acs.jchemed. 6b00745 3 S. P. Klama & T. Baran (2017) Is 3D printing safe? Analysis of the thermal treatment of thermoplastics: ABS, PLA, PET, and nylon, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, 14:6, D80 D85, DOI: 10.1080/15459624.2017.1285489 ODDY TESTING RESULTS Control ABS BluPrint HIPS nGen N Vent Nylon 230 Nylon 645 Nylon 680 PC PET+ PETG PLA T Lyne TPU Ag Cu Pb Pass Filament Type* Color Other Names MatterHackers Natural PLA Natural MatterHackers Natural ABS Natural Clear PRO Series Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) Clear Taulman Natural 645 Nylon Natural Taulman Nylon 230 Natural Taulman Nylon 680 Natural Taulman TECH G PETG Natural Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol MadeSolid Clear PET+ Clear Polyethylene Terephthalate MatterHackers Polycarbonate (PC) Natural Taulman BluPrint Clear Eastman Tritan Co polyester High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) Dissolvable Black Taulman T Lyne Flexible Natural DuPont Surlyn (PE co polymer) Taulman n vent Clear Transparent Clear Eastman Amphora AM1800 ColorFabb Clear nGen Clear Amphora AM3300 Neelam Bharti and Fletcher Durant, University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries All filament sourced from in Dec. 2017 All filaments were printed on a Fusion F400 3D p p rinting facility in January and February of 2018. Samples were printed at supplier r ecommended temperatures onto heated beds. c hance of contamination by the printing plate. Individual pieces were separated from the rafts a nd trimmed to fit in 10mL beakers.