How toxic is PLA and ABS to inhale? I mean,

How toxic is PLA and ABS to inhale? I mean, how safe is it to be printing in your bedroom? I tried ABS and got really sick. I now print with PLA but with a fan over it pointed out of the window.

PLA is completely safe.
I print PLA in the same room that I sleep in and haven’t felt anything from it. PLA is considered foodsafe (however the dye in it might not be), so I wouldn’t worry about it.

If you are smelling PLA or ABS a lot, you might be running too hot and almost burning it…might consider lowering the temp. We have 10 machine in the shop and you can’t even smell anything even when they are all running (from third parties’ opinions).

@Thomas, it may be food safe at room temperature but that’s not the same as fumes from PLA. As an example, doing electroplating can be toxic even though the metals at room temperature are not.

I can tell you that PLA is much better in most senses. Lower temperatures, sticks better (from my experience), and it doesn’t smell. I’m locked up in my room all day and only have a window that won’t open completely and it doesn’t bother me at all.

While I agree with all of you “it doesn’t seem to bother me” isn’t the same thing as safe. Radiation doesn’t seem to bother you while you’re being exposed to it. Only after do you get sick. Are there any long term dangers? Are we giving ourselves cancer?

PLA is a lot safer than ABS in most respects, but it’s also got a lower deformation temp, which makes it not as useful for making objects for warmer climates.

If you intend to print ABS, it’s best to ventilate the room well. Even with PLA, you should have some ventilation (even if it’s a door open and the window open a crack to get airflow). If you’re not using adequate ventilation when you print, IMO you’re being stupid.

I’ve heard a lot of people with Asthma have problems with ABS fumes (not just breathing, but headaches), but not PLA. I know at least 2 people (IRL) that suffer from this.

Also, if you actually burn either, ABS produces many more compounds than PLA, and many of the ones from ABS are considered toxic.

I don’t think we’re giving ourselves cancer. At least, not if we’re being sensible and taking basic precautions.

I probably won’t be convinced until I read a peer reviewed article about it. I don’t mean to be Debbie Downer here but the truth seems to be that we simply don’t know and we’re assuming. In the mean time I’ll just keep blowing a fan over my printer and out of the window.

Or, we could just read the MSDS, where the summary of peer reviewed studies can be found:

You’re most likely smelling styrene with the ABS. Stinky stuff! You may want to consider a lower nozzel temp - you should be able to find TGA curves for the ABS you have (or ask the company for them)- which will tell you at which temps you lose the most weight (at 100 or so you’ll lose water of course, but above that you’ll increasingly lose small chain hydrocarbons and possibly scission some of the backbone and leave small parts of the polymer)- if you’re doing that though, you’re likely on the slope towards degredation, which means you’ll embrittle the plastic/weaken it. see the NFPA 704 hazards.

@Michael_Hohensee Awesome. Thanks. That’s exactly what we should be looking at.

ABS fumes are irritants. I get nasty headaches.

PLA fumes seem to be less irritating. However, I consider (in lack of proper long-term research) it just as dangerous, since it is fumes from biological sources. Much like carbon-fiber is dangerous.

Also, if you have PTFE anywhere in your extruder, consider what you can’t smell just as dangerous. (Also, don’t have birds around it.)

“…Good general
ventilation of the polymer processing area is
recommended. At temperatures exceeding the polymer
melt temperature (typically 170ºC), polymer can release
fumes, which may contain fragments of the polymer,
creating a potential to irritate eyes and mucous
membranes. Good general ventilation should be sufficient
for most conditions. Local exhaust ventilation is recommended
for melt operations…”

This is a good one too