3D printers for consumers have undergone an impressive evolution in recent years, and most contemporary models print much faster than their primitive versions. Still, some designs take half a day or an entire night to print. So, can you sleep with a 3D printer running?
You can sleep with a 3D printer running but not in the same room. 3D printers are usually very safe and won’t cause electrical issues or fires in most cases. However, the fumes from 3D printing with filaments like ABS are unsafe to inhale, so you must not sleep near your printer.
In the following sections, I’ll discuss whether it’s safe or wise to leave your 3D printer running overnight while you are sleeping. I’ll also give you some safety tips and discuss the toxicity of some of the most popular filaments and resin so you can understand when and where you should sleep while running a 3D print.
Is It Safe To Sleep With a 3D Printer Running?
Ideally, you should be awake and vigilant whenever a 3D printer is doing its magic. However, no one can spend hours, days, or nights watching an arduously long print come to fruition.
The best practices for 3D printing include continuous supervision, regardless of the printer and material, but the best practices aren’t always the most practical.
It is safe to sleep with a 3D printer running if you have thoroughly tested and calibrated your printer and have already printed the first few layers of the object. Cheap 3D printers aren’t always safe to use, but most printers from trustworthy brands are fine to leave running overnight.
If you have a decent 3D printer from a brand like Prusa, Creality, Elegoo, Makerbot, Formlabs, etc., it is perfectly safe to leave it running for prolonged periods as long as you’re still printing.
Apart from safety, you must ensure the printing process will pan out expectedly if you intend to sleep with a 3D printer. You don’t want a failed print or a session running out of filament in the spool or resin in the vat.
In addition, leaving the printer on with no ongoing print can be bad for your printer and result in overheating. While overheating isn’t particularly dangerous for you, it could damage your printer.
So, try to time things out and set an alarm for when the print should finish. That way, you can turn the printer off, even if you have slept through the whole thing.
Can You Sleep in the Same Room As Your 3D Printer?
While printing overnight is fine, you can’t sleep in the same room as your 3D printer due to some risks to your health.
All desktop 3D printers manufactured for consumers use materials that emit fumes when they undergo a physical transformation. While not all of these fumes are toxic, a few are.
Most Fumes From a 3D Printer Using Thermoplastic Filaments Are Toxic
The risks of sleeping in the same room with a 3D printer running depend on the material and printing technology. Since every filament and resin consists of different formulas of chemicals, the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and UFPs (ultrafine particles) released during a print will vary.
3D printing temperatures influence the emission rate of these semi-volatile and volatile organic compounds and ultrafine particles, including particulate matter. So, your print temperature also matters when considering your safety.
Consider the fumes from the two most popular 3D printing filaments: PLA and ABS.
PLA (polylactic acid) emits lactide during 3D printing. Lactide is a volatile organic compound, but it isn’t toxic.
However, PLA filaments may emit fumes of methyl methacrylate. Methyl methacrylate is a mild skin irritant, but inhaling its fumes is unsafe.
Inhaling methyl methacrylate might irritate the nose and throat, adversely affect the lungs, and cause shortness of breath.
ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) emits formaldehyde and styrene fumes. Both are toxic.
But wait – there’s more! ABS filaments also emit:
- Bisphenol A
- Diethyl phthalate
- Di-n-butyl phthalate
- Methyl palmitate
- N-octyl ether
- Triphenylphosphine oxide
- Tris (2 chloroethyl) phosphate.
None of these organic compounds are healthy or safe for you.
Like PLA, ABS, and PETG, nylon emits fumes of volatile organic compounds and ultrafine particles.
Nylon emits caprolactam, which can irritate the respiratory system.
Chronic or long-term exposure to caprolactam can irritate your:
PETG emits the following fumes:
- Diethyl phthalate
- Diisobutyl phthalate
- Methyl palmitate
- Triphenylphosphine oxide
Therefore, it is safe to infer that sleeping with a 3D printer running with these filaments is not healthy or pleasant.
The Hazards of Sleeping With a Resin 3D Printer Running
Sleeping with a resin 3D printer running is an entirely different discussion. Here are the facts you need to consider:
- All liquid resin varieties used in 3D printers are toxic. Thus, such setups shouldn’t be in a room you may use for sleeping.
- Liquid resin shouldn’t come in contact with your bare skin.
- You shouldn’t have any ingestible material around or near liquid resin.
- Fumes from the liquid resin used for 3D printing vary depending on the brand and formula, making it difficult to understand how safe each resin might be.
- Liquid resin doesn’t emit as many fumes as epoxy. Still, some grades or varieties may give off acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, methyl isobutyl ketone, etc.
The pungent smell of liquid resin isn’t necessarily the fumes of any UFPs or VOCs. However, the liquid resin isn’t safe to handle without gloves, masks, and protective glasses.
Besides, resin 3D printer setups have IPA fumes from curing the models and residual hazardous materials.
Hence, a resin 3D printer running when you sleep in the same room is not safe.
How To Mitigate the Risks of Sleeping in the Same Room as a 3D Printer
Many resin 3D printers have enclosures. Also, liquid resin doesn’t involve heat in the 3D printing process, so the risks of toxic or unsafe fumes are at least lower than they could be.
Still, using resin in a room where you may sleep is very dangerous for the reasons I have shared above.
On the other hand, FDM or FFF 3D printers using filaments typically don’t have enclosures.
Even if your model has an enclosure, there’s likely to be at least one vent to regulate the cooling and heating effects, so you will still have some fumes in the indoor air, which will be hazardous.
Here are a few remedies to mitigate the risks of sleeping in the same room as a 3D filament printer:
- You can use air filters, such as carbon, HEPA, etc.
- You can put an air purifier in the same room.
- Use an air quality monitor to protect yourself from VOCs and UFPs.
- Open windows and use fans to ventilate the area.
Additionally, you may consider the following practices to reduce the number of fumes when you 3D print with filaments:
- Select a lower hotend or nozzle temperature for toxic filaments like PETG, ABS, and nylon.
- Use a thermoplastic filament with a lower emission rate, such as PLA.
- Get an enclosure or hood, an extraction fan, and a particulate filter for the printer.
- Position the printer appropriately or use measures to vent the fumes outside.
You have to sleep with a 3D printer running whenever a model takes an entire day, night, and, in some cases, longer. But don’t sleep in the same room as your 3D printer.
Also, ensure sufficient ventilation in the room if you intend to run a 3D printer continuously for hours, days, or nights.