Over the years I’ve written a lot about the safety of desktop 3D printing. When Underwriters Laboratory announced plans to enter the market, I covered it. When Dremel launched the IdeaBuilder I wrote that in my experience, it was among the first to be UL and CE approved – not just at the component level, but the entire device.
Later I wrote about Roger and Valerie Morash, who along with their cats died tragically of carbon monoxide poisoning in their apartment in Berkeley. They had a 3D printer and a laser cutter in their home. Some reports suggested that one of those devices were to blame. It’s more likely that a furnace or appliance caused the leak, but to my knowledge no final culprit has been found.
In my article then, I noted that the 3D printing “industry is immature and much of the work that’s gone into creating these devices has been done by startups. Some don’t have prior experience working with consumer electronics. Until recently, very few desktop 3D printers were even UL or CE approved. Off-the-shelf components like power supplies and motors were typically conforming, but the devices themselves were untested.”
I finished by saying that, “it’s possible that safety could become a big issue for the teachers, parents and children who will power the ‘Next Industrial Revolution’.”
There are many potential safety hazards with desktop 3D printers. They are melting plastic, so there’s certainly heat, in addition to potential air quality issues. They’re also electronic devices, which mean they pose many of the same risks as other appliances.
Over the past week, I’ve run into two different examples where desktop 3D printers either were, or could have been, a fire hazard. The first was mentioned in a thread on Reddit. The person actually had a house fire and blamed it on a cheap Chinese 3D printer he’d bought for $200.
Apparently, he let it run while he was away from home. In his post he said, “I’ve had it since…