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Are PETG Fumes Safe to Breathe? Facts and Safety Info

When it comes to 3D printing, there are a variety of different materials that you can use. One of the most popular is PETG, known for its strength and transparency. But some people may wonder if PETG fumes are safe to breathe.

PETG fumes are safe to breathe. PETG comprises terephthalate, polyethylene, and glycol, which are non-toxic. Because of that, PETG does not emit harmful fumes.

This article will describe what PETG is made of, the properties of PETG that make it ideal for 3D printing, and address some safety precautions related to 3D printing PETG.

Does 3D Printing PETG Emit Harmful Fumes?

PETG does not emit harmful fumes. It is a recyclable thermoplastic that does not emit toxic gases or produce strong smells. This is because it’s made from 100% non-toxic materials.

As I mentioned, PETG is made of terephthalate, polyethylene, and glycol. Here’s a rundown of the properties of these substances that make them safe for use in 3D printing

Terephthalate

Terephthalate is a non-toxic, flame-resistant thermoplastic often used to manufacture plastic bottles. It is also used in producing polyester fibers and is resistant to chemicals.

This makes terephthalate a versatile substance safe for use in 3D printing, as long as the filament manufacturer does not include harmful chemicals and additives.

Polyethylene

Polyethylene is an industrially important polymer and is one of the most widely used polymers in everyday life due to how many products it’s found in. For instance, plastic storage bags and bottles are made from polyethylene.

However, since manufacturers typically do not add any toxic chemicals into these products, they’re considered non-toxic. As such, polyethylene is also safe enough to be used in 3D printing with PETG.

Glycol

Glycol can be found everywhere food items, medications, and cosmetics are produced. It is colorless, odorless, and non-toxic.

Because of this, glycol is safe enough to be used in 3D printing with PETG.

Properties of PETG That Make It Ideal for 3D Printing

In general, PETG is one of the best plastics for 3D printing. This is because PETG has chemical and physical properties that make it ideal for the process.

Some of the properties of PETG that make it ideal for 3D printing include:

  • Chemically inert: PETG is a chemically inert material that does not corrode or react with other materials. This makes it an excellent choice for 3D printing, as it will not contaminate the print bed or the filament itself.
  • Moisture resistant: PETG is also moisture resistant, meaning that it can be stored and used in humid environments without degrading. It also doesn’t warp when exposed to water as some other thermoplastics can.
  • Transparent: PETG is highly transparent, making it great for printing objects that require visibility through the object.
  • Ductile: Because of its ductility (the ability to be stretched into a thin wire without breaking) and hardness (resistance to permanent deformation), PETG is perfect for prototypes and manufacturing products.

Here’s a YouTube video that describes some of the things to know about PETG before using it for 3D printing:

The Hazards of 3D Printing Thermoplastics

Although PETG fumes are safe to breathe, there are several dangers related to 3D printing thermoplastics in general.

Some of the hazards of 3D printing thermoplastics include:

Tiny Solids That May Enter the Lungs

When 3D printing, thermoplastics are heated until they become a liquid. This liquid is then extruded through a nozzle to create the desired object.

However, as this liquid is being extruded, tiny solid particles can escape from the nozzle and enter the printer’s surrounding environment.

These tiny particles can then be breathed in by anyone in the area and may cause health problems down the road.

Burns from Molten Filament

In addition to tiny solid particles, there is also a risk of burns from the molten filament. If the filament comes into contact with your skin, it will quickly heat up and cause severe burns.

This is why it’s crucial to always be careful when handling 3D printing filaments, especially hot ones.

Fire Due to a Malfunctioned Printer

Another danger of 3D printing is fire. If the printer malfunctions and starts overheating, the heat can easily ignite any flammable materials near the printer.

Because of that, it’s critical to keep a fire extinguisher nearby when 3D printing and always to take caution when using the printer.

Safety Precautions When 3D Printing

Even though PETG fumes are safe to breathe, it’s still important to take safety precautions when 3D printing with any thermoplastic.

Some of these safety precautions include:

Wear Protective Gear Like Safety Goggles and Gloves

It’s essential to wear protective gear when working with 3D printing filament. This includes safety glasses or face shields (I recommend these durable, lightweight, and ultra-clear TCP Global Face Shields from Amazon.com), gloves, and a face mask to protect your skin and lungs from burns and particles.

These precautions are essential when working with hot filament, as it can easily cause burns if it comes into contact with your skin.

Never Leave Your Printer Unattended

As with most appliances, it’s important never to leave your 3D printer unattended. This is especially true when the printer is turned on, and the filament is heated.

If you need to leave the room or step away from the printer, always turn it off first. Otherwise, you risk the chance of a fire starting.

Keep a Fire Extinguisher Nearby

Another safety precaution to keep in mind is to keep a fire extinguisher nearby when 3D printing.

This is especially important if the filament starts to overheat or catch fire, which can happen in rare situations.

Keep Your Heated Printing Environments Away from Other Objects

Lastly, keeping your heated printing environment away from other objects is essential.

This is especially true if you’re working in a small room or small space with little airflow. In these types of areas, it can be easy for the filament to overheat and cause fires. So make sure to keep any flammable objects away from your printer.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, PETG fumes are safe to breathe. However, there are some dangers associated with 3D printing thermoplastics in general, such as:

  • Tiny solid particles that may enter the lungs and cause health problems down the road
  • Burns from molten filament due to a malfunctioning printer or carelessness while handling it
  • Fire due to a malfunctioning printer

To avoid these dangers, it’s essential to use protective gear like safety glasses and gloves and take caution when using the printer. Also, ensure you keep safety equipment like first aid and firefighting kits close.