Does a HEPA filter work for 3D printers?

Here at Conaro, we manufacture all our products on 3D printers and as such we ourselves need to be sure that our products work for our own health and safety.

We recently undertook a couple of simple tests to challenge the performance of our HEPA filter modules while 3D printing with PLA and ABS filaments. The tests below are simple, but demonstrate the performance of a HEPA filter when recirculating the air inside of a common Lack enclosure with a Prusa i3 printer.

OdourCube 3D Printer Odour Controls System

For the tests, we had one of our systems recirculating the air of the enclosure through our 75mm HEPA filter module while the printer was running.

For measurements, we used one of our prototype air quality sensors within the enclosure. The air quality sensor is based on a PMS3003 (which measures PM1.0, PM2.5 and PM10 particulate concentrations in the air).

3D Printer air quality sampling

Two tests have been conducted in this exercise. One to measure the increasing concentration of particulate within the enclosure while printing with the filter off, and the other, a smoke challenge test where smoke is added into the enclosure while the printer was running.

ABS Concentration Test

Filament: ABS
Nozzle Temperature: 250°C
Recirculation Fan Voltage: 5V

3D Printer Particulate Emissions HEPA Filter Off and On

 As can be seen in the results above, with the recirculation filter off, the fine particulate concentrations gradually built up within the enclosure as the printer continued to produce these contaminants while printing. After 20 minutes of the printer operating without filtration, the recirculation fan was turned on at 5V and it can be seen that within 10 minutes the particulate concentrations within the enclosure had dropped to levels similar to what is in ambient air.

PLA Smoke Challenge Test

Filament: PLA
Nozzle Temperature: 200°C
Recirculation Fan Voltage: 5V

3D Printer Particulate Emissions Test PLA Smoke Challenge

The above test was to challenge the filtration system to see the extent at which it could remove smoke which was introduced into the enclosure while the printer itself generated particulate emissions while printing. As can be seen in the results, the recirculation system was capable of removing the large dose of smoke in less than 30 minutes while the printer continued to generate particulate emissions within the enclosure.

Conclusion

The above tests indicate that the 75mm Filtration Module recirculating the air of an enclosure using a 75mm Fan Module operating at 5V,  is capable of removing particulate emissions generated by a 3D printer. These tests were conducted with the fan operating at 5V and faster response will be achieved with the fan running at higher voltages (up to 12V).

If you have any questions regarding the performance of these products, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us!