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Are 3D Printers Allowed in Dorms?

Whether you are an engineering student or a student from any other discipline, you’ve probably heard of “3D printing.” As 3D printers are getting more portable and smaller in size (thanks to the advance of technology), you might want to have one by your side and ready to use whenever you need it. This leads us to the ultimate question: Are 3D printers allowed in dorms?

3D printers are usually one of the prohibited items in college dorms due to the safety hazards they may pose to you and your dorm mates. However, you may apply for approval from the person in charge of your college housing; such approvals are granted on a case-by-case basis.

Read on as I elaborate on several other relevant topics, such as why 3D printers are prohibited in dorms and whether colleges have 3D printers at their campuses.

Can You Have a 3D Printer in Your Dorm?

The short answer to whether you can place a 3D printer in your dorm room is: It depends. I know this response is such a bummer – but the reality is, it really depends on the housing policies of each college dorm.

According to Michigan Housing, the University of Michigan restricts students from bringing a 3D printer to their dorms. Likewise, the University of Texas implores you to leave your 3D printer at home.

That being said, it appears that this rule is not absolute (at least in some colleges). For instance, California State University allows 3D printers in dorms provided you have obtained approval from the University Housing Services. 

university with many students

Among the details you must provide for the application are the model, manufacturer, and filament type of your 3D printer.

In short, you should consult the person in charge of your college housing first. Chances are, your college has a policy in place to review on a case-by-case basis whether you are permitted to keep a 3D printer in your dorm.

Nonetheless, don’t be too quick to give up if your college adopts a policy of prohibiting 3D printers in dorm rooms! 

You might want to ask around and verify if they allow you to place your 3D printer at the residence hall, the common spaces in your dormitory building, or the academic lab.

Reasons Why 3D Printers Are Prohibited From College Dorms

Apart from whether you are allowed to keep a 3D printer in your dorm, you must also have in mind other concerns that are equally, if not more, relevant and legitimate. 

Ask yourself: Even if your college does not restrict you from having a 3D printer in your room, should you?

Here are some of the common reasons why 3D printers are among the banned items from college dorms: 

  1. The Hazardous Particles Emitted During the Printing Process

Research has shown that consumer 3D printers have an adverse impact on indoor air quality, which is bad for your respiratory health.

In order to understand how a 3D printer affects your health, it is crucial to examine how exactly the 3D printing process works. 

Most consumer 3D printers operate by heating up plastic filaments, extruding the molten plastic through a nozzle, and laying it down in successive layers to form an object.

Throughout the printing process, harmful fumes and ultrafine particles (UFPs) are being emitted into the air. You are simply unable to notice them with a human eye. 

Still, your respiratory system will take a hit, especially when operating your 3D printer in an enclosed space without sufficient ventilation.

As such, it is perhaps not the best idea to keep and to run a 3D printer in a college dorm – for the health and safety of yourself and your roommates. 

  1. The Noise

On average, a 3D printer runs for around five to seven hours. Depending on the size of print and speed of printing, it is not unfathomable that you might need to keep the printer running for hours or even days on end.

If you don’t know, the typical decibel range of 3D printers is around 40db to 50db, roughly as loud as a human conversation. However, some models of 3D printers can be significantly louder than their counterparts.

If you care about the feelings and well-being of your roommates, you know that they want to have a good rest after a long day of classes. Hence, I’m pretty sure that they wouldn’t find it pleasant to sleep with the constant noise produced by your 3D printer.

  1. Limited Space in Dorm Rooms

At the college level, you are likely to share a room with some other dorm mates. Given the limited spaces, you might not be able to place your 3D printer inside the room.

The reason behind this is: Although the 3D printer can be small in size, you must also allocate some additional space for the wash and cure systems, a post-processing station, and a place to store your supplies.

Do Colleges Have 3D Printers?

Most universities and colleges will have at least one 3D printer available for the use of their students. This is especially the case if you have enrolled in an engineering college or a college of design.

Take the University of Nevada; their DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library is the first academic library in the US that offers 3D printing service. 

Besides, the College of Design Technology Services of the University of Oregon also boasts a 3D printer in their PDX Fabrication Lab.

Conclusion

In essence, 3D printers are usually not allowed in dorms as they’re proven to harm one’s health when operated in a confined space.

However, whether you’re allowed to keep a 3D printer in your dorm room would ultimately hinge upon the policies adopted by your college. 

Some colleges may permit you to do so provided you have complied with the safety regulations and submitted the correct details pertaining to your 3D printer.

You may also want to consult your university or college officials to see if there is a common 3D printer on the campus for students’ use.