It might surprise you to learn that most additive manufacturing and 3D printing technologies are not safe. They emit Styrene, Lactide and a number of other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Furthermore, the materials used in most 3D printers and, especially in the post-processing steps required by 3D printers, are quite hazardous.
If you work in a lab specially equipped with suitable ventilation and disposal systems for these VOCs and materials, you might not be concerned about safety.
However, there is a more strategic view that an increasing number of global enterprises are taking to scale additive manufacturing pervasively across the value chain to new users and applications outside of the additive manufacturing lab environment. They are investigating how to use additive manufacturing to redefine their processes and to offer entirely new products and services. These initiatives require scaling additive manufacturing beyond the lab to the production floor, office environments and even into space, necessitating completely safe processes and materials.
And, to bring the additive manufacturing to new users of the technology, such as machine shops, doctors’ offices and other office and retail locations, VOCs and harmful materials throughout the process, from file to functional part, are simply out of the question.
There are also are many organizations with traditional 3D printing applications where VOCs and harmful materials are not an option. For example, the need for safety in educational environments is clear, despite the fact that printers used in classrooms today are unsafe. Similarly, medical facilities require safety.
One of our customers, a global aerospace & defense technology company nearly purchased a 3D printer that has the word “water” in the name of its post-processing system because they thought it was safe. Once they learned that the “water” referenced in the name is actually concentrated sodium hydroxide, classified as a corrosive, the customer purchased Rize instead. They said harmful emissions and/or materials is a non-starter at their facility.
But the need for safe additive manufacturing extends beyond companies with safety and sustainability directives.
Consider the US Navy. They told us they simply cannot risk the health of sailors in submarines and on ships with 3D printers that emit VOCs and use harmful materials that must be stored and disposed of in a special manner, so they purchased Rize.
Similarly, the US Army operates 3D printers in expeditionary pods that are sent far out into the field. Like the Navy, they can’t afford to have soldiers and contractors operating printers in these pods harmed with VOCs, nor do they have the facilities to store and dispose of toxic materials on a remote field base or in many of the countries where the pods are sent.
Rize’s Augmented Polymer Deposition (APD) technology is completely safe. Our printer emits no VOCs and the process uses only safe, biocompatible and recyclable materials that do not require special storage or disposal facilities. Since our process requires virtually zero post-processing of parts following printing, there are no harmful solvents or dangerous tools required by other 3D printing technologies – the user simply releases the supports in seconds or minutes from the part with bare hands in any type of location. The remaining surface is smooth and no further sanding or finishing is required.