3D Printing Odor: Risks and Prevention Measures

3D Printing Odor: Risks and Prevention Measures

3D printing has revolutionized the manufacturing industry by allowing the creation of complex designs that were previously impossible to achieve using traditional methods. From prototyping to creating finished products, 3D printing has opened up a world of possibilities. However, with the rise of 3D printing comes a new concern: the emission of odor during the printing process. If you have ever used a 3D printer, you may have noticed a characteristic smell that accompanies the printing process. This odor can range from mildly unpleasant to outright noxious, and it has raised concerns about potential health risks from prolonged exposure. In this article, we will explore the question, does 3D printing smell? We will examine the sources of odor in 3D printing, the health risks associated with inhaling the emissions, and steps that can be taken to reduce the odor emission during printing.

Sources of odor in 3D printing

The odor emitted during 3D printing can be attributed to several factors. The most significant sources of odor in 3D printing are the materials used. For example:

  • ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is a commonly used plastic in 3D printing that emits a strong, pungent smell when melted.
  • PLA (Polylactic Acid) is another commonly used material that produces a sweet smell similar to caramel or syrup when heated.
  • Nylon, PETG and other materials commonly used in 3D printing also emit odor, although to a lesser degree than ABS or PLA.

In addition to the type of material, the temperature and speed settings during printing can also affect the emission of odor. Higher temperatures and faster printing speeds can cause the materials to vaporize more quickly, resulting in stronger odors. Not all 3D printers emit the same level of odor, as some are better equipped than others to contain and filter fumes. Some examples of websites where 3D printing enthusiasts can find information about printers that produce less odor include 3D Insider and All3DP.

What is the source of human odor?

Human odor is mainly produced by apocrine sweat glands that become active during puberty. These glands are located in hairy regions such as the scalp, genitals, and armpits. The sweat they secrete is oily and contains various proteins, lipids, and steroids.

Health risks associated with 3D printing odor

While the smell of 3D printing may be unpleasant, it can also be harmful to your health. Inhaling the fumes and emissions from 3D printing materials can potentially cause the following health risks:

  • Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat
  • Allergic reactions such as coughing and wheezing
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Long-term exposure to certain materials may cause cancer or other chronic health issues.

According to a study conducted by the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2017, researchers found that 3D printers using ABS and PLA released high levels of ultrafine particles and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are potentially hazardous to health. The study concluded that proper ventilation and air filtration are necessary to reduce the risk of exposure to these particles and VOCs.

Table: Comparison of odor emission from different 3D printing materials

| Material | Odor Emission |
| — | — |
| ABS | High |
| PLA | Medium |
| Nylon | Low |
| PETG | Low |

It’s important to note that not all 3D printers and materials are created equal in terms of emissions. Some materials produce less odor than others and some printers are equipped with better filters than others. To stay on top of the latest developments in 3D printing and to learn which materials and printers produce the least amount of odor, websites such as 3D Insider and All3DP provide valuable information for 3D printing enthusiasts.

Do 3D printers have an odor?

Yes, 3D printers have an odor due to the heating and melting of plastic filament, which creates gas and microscopic particles dispersed in the printing environment. Some filaments emit stronger odors than others. To reduce the odor, it’s recommended to use a well-ventilated space or an air filtration system. Some companies, like Airwolf 3D, sell air filtration systems specific to 3D printing.

Steps to reduce odor emission during 3D printing

Fortunately, there are several measures that you can take to reduce the emission of odor during 3D printing:

  • Use a 3D printer with a built-in air filtration system or add an external air purifier to your workspace
  • Print in a well-ventilated area, such as near an open window or in a room with a fan
  • Reduce the temperature and speed settings during printing to minimize the emission of fumes
  • Choose low-emission materials:
    • Nylon and PETG produce less odor compared to ABS and PLA
    • Filaments made of natural materials, such as wood or bamboo, produce almost no fumes or odor.

In addition to these measures, some companies offer products specifically designed to reduce the odor of 3D printing. For example, a company called 3D-Fuel has developed a filament called Entwined that contains coffee beans which help to reduce the aroma of printing. Other companies sell activated carbon filters specifically for 3D printers as well.

Implementing these measures can significantly reduce the emission of odor during 3D printing. However, it’s important to be aware that reducing odor emissions doesn’t necessarily mean eliminating health risks completely. Proper safety measures, such as wearing a mask or using a fume hood, are still advised when handling 3D printing materials.

Websites such as 3DInsider and All3DP provide tips and recommendations on how to reduce the emission of odor during 3D printing as well as reviews of various printers and materials.

What reduces odors?

Coffee grounds, tea, vinegar, oats, and baking soda are some of the best odor eliminators that can reduce the unpleasant smells in a room. Leaving a bowl of any of these odor absorbers out in a room can significantly reduce the odor. There are also various products available in the market that can help eliminate odors.


In conclusion, 3D printing does emit odor, and some of the materials used in 3D printing can produce harmful fumes. It’s important to be aware of these health hazards and to take measures to minimize the emission of odor during printing. Implementing proper safety measures and being mindful of the temperature, speed, and materials used can help reduce the emission of odor and ultimately improve the overall safety of 3D printing.

Fortunately, there are various resources available for those interested in reducing the emission of odor during 3D printing. Websites such as 3DInsider and All3DP offer valuable guidance and product reviews. Additionally, companies like 3D-Fuel provide innovative solutions and products designed to control odor emissions.

3D printing is a fascinating technology that has revolutionized many industries. With proper safety measures and a mindful approach, individuals can enjoy all of the benefits of 3D printing while staying safe from the potential health hazards associated with odor emissions.