Perils of 3D Printing (moderately graphic)

In honor of the great month of October and the coming of Halloween, I thought I would share this little 3D Printing injury with you all.  

From my perspective, this is moderately amusing.  I've got decades of experience working in labs and around moving shop equipment.  I know where I'm at risk of a little scrape here and there and where I need to be more careful.  However, it occurs to me that people of all shapes and sizes, so I decided to do a little writeup around some of the dangers associated with consumer 3D printing.  You'll probably note that this extends to just about anything in a workshop environment.  This post will initially be populated by my wound picture and will get filled up with more as readers send me their stories of wounds from other categories.

Moderately graphic image coming up for the weak stomachs out there...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Danger - Sharp Edges

 

So, what happened?  This one is only very loosely a 3D printing injury.  I was in a mad rush to get something shipped and was reaching through spools of filament for samples.  My finger scraped against the edge of the inner bore of a spool that must have had a jagged section.  It was a sharp edge in a location that I wasn't really expecting.  

You'll find that your printer is probably has a few sharp edges.  One of our regular customers posts about concerns he's had with sharp sheet metal edges on his Flash Forge Creator Pro on the Facebook Flash Forge Users group page and what he's done about it.  Those glass plates that many of us use are great (have you ever removed a glass build plate and popped it in the freezer to remove your print?  Awesome), but it's a good idea to remember that they are sharp edges waiting to happen.

Another issue can be removing your print from the build plate.  A lot of the tools that work really well to help pry your print off the plate are sharp.  I really like using a cricut spatula.  The pallet knife, clamdigger knife and a sharp paint scraper are also popular.  They become dangerous because you're often putting a fair amount of force on it to get it underneath the part.  The part tends to just give and pop free, then the blade can come free to give you a nasty cut.  

The picture below is an aftermath of a friend's less than ideal thumb placement when she was trying to remove a stubborn print.  

One more place where you're going to encounter edges is support removal, especially of hard PLA supports.  The tools you will use to remove it and the material itself can be sharp enough to cut you.  Support structures are getting better all the time though.  Programs like Simplify3D and meshmixer provide you with easier to remove supports that might reduce the risk of cutting yourself like this.

Caution:  Hot Surfaces

Warning labels be damned!  I will not follow you!  They are there for a reason though.  The hot end is...

Wait for it....

Hot.  

Here is a mostly healed over blister from being too impatient to walk across the shop to grab tweezers to remove filament at the start of a print.  Nylon sure can hold some heat!

Splinters

I really hope someone sends in a pic because these are just nasty.  Have you ever removed support material or a skirt with your fingernail?  Me too.  It's a really bad idea.  I haven't been unfortunate enough to experience this for myself yet, but I've seen a few instances where people have gotten plastic splinters stuck under their finger nails.  It looks like it hurts a lot.  The pictures are terrible.  If you have one of these that you're willing to share, please message me!  

Just because PLA is used as a medical implant material doesn't mean you should test it out on yourself!

It's Electric

Alright, this is where I actually am (mostly) careful.   You've got a wide range of printers out there.  A very few are built to electrical safety standards, but things can go wrong.  When you are working with electrical devices, you've always got a risk of fire.  Google 3D Printing fire.  You will find some truly awful pictures.  People have lost their homes or worse.  Obviously, this is much more serious than the other things described above.  Please consider this when you're contemplating running a long unattended print.  At the very least, make sure you have fire alarms so that if the worst does happen, you or your loved ones will know when to leave.

 

 

 

 




Matthew Gorton
Matthew Gorton

Author

Matthew Gorton is the founder of printedsolid.com. He is a mechanical / materials engineer by education and has worked as a design, process and quality engineer in the medical, electronics, and aerospace industries. He is enthusiastic about applying all he has learned through these experiences to 3D printing and sharing that with others.



Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.