Monday, November 7, 2016

3D Printing Safety: 3D Printing 101 Video

For those who don't know the meme I used for the thumbnail pic, click here.

Putting the reviews on hold for a bit to start a new series of videos, an educational 3D printing 101 series that will eventually cover the questions you should ask before buying a 3D printer, questions about what kind of 3D printer to buy, and how to design for 3D printing.

Of course, I didn't bump this discussion to the start of the 101 series, and the start of the 101 series to now, without a reason. While this was a video I had planned, I was waiting until I finished the reviews. But a tragic story by about a 17 year old who died in a fire with a 3D printer in the room prompted me to change my plan. Now, there's a lot about this story that doesn't add up, and a little digging shows just how exaggerated 3D printing's contribution really was. The 3D Printing Nerd and Barnaclues destroyed this report already and the skeptic in me wanted to join them in their railing of this miss-reported story, but at the same time I had to admit that I might have been somewhat responsible. I made a video about using hairspray to stick prints to a print bed I never once uttered a word of warning about reasonable precautions. I'm not beating myself up about it, but at the same time I'm going to take safety more seriously from now on because I should have all along.

My father saw a presentation by one Bob Zalosh about the fire risks of 3D printing and urged me to take a look at presentation. Thanks to both of these men for getting me this information, which gave this discussion a much needed backbone.

I want to emphasize again, this discussion isn't for the purpose of scaring you away from 3D printing. Like I said at the beginning, if I were making videos about using any power tool and didn't say a word about safety and caution I'd be negligent. Why should 3D printing be any different? In fact the "wild west" nature of 3D printing these days means safety should be discussed even more because most of these printers are built cheaply, with no QC, and we hardly have any real grasp on everything that could go wrong.

But the point of this discussion isn't "Don't 3D print if you can't be safe." Just be more aware of what safe is. Because worse than being unsafe is being surprised when something bad happens because you didn't know you were being unsafe.

If you know, even just in the back of your mind, that you're running a risk maybe you'll check your print a little more often, or check the wiring before you start,  or move the flash paper to another room, or maybe you'll make a bigger change to be safer. But for now I think everyone can:
  1. Keep flammables away from your 3D printer
  2. Use only in a well ventilated area
  3. Have a fire detection system and a fire extinguisher near by
  4. Use caution around your printer's moving parts
  5. Do not run your 3D printer unattended
Remember, safety first, and go be awesome. I know you can.

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