Is Your 3D Printer Poisoning You? Build This Emission Monitor to Find Out

Cameron Coward
23 days ago3D Printing

A 3D printer is one of the most helpful tools you can have in your arsenal, and most makers use theirs often. If you’re like many of us, you probably keep your 3D printer inside your home — maybe even right next to you on the desk. But 3D printers can potentially be hazardous, and we’re not just talking about the risk of a fire. Your 3D printer could also be emitting toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as formaldehyde, while it’s running. To detect those VOC emissions, Gary Peng has designed this monitor that you can build yourself.

The purpose of the 3D Printer Emission Monitor is straightforward: to indicate if VOC concentrations are at hazardous levels. All you have to do is mount it near your 3D printer, and you’ll be alerted if those VOC levels exceed a set threshold. By using a smartphone app, you can keep track of those levels over time, receive notifications if an alert is sounded, and see exactly what the monitor is detecting at any given time. Best of all, this is made using readily-available and affordable components, so there is no reason not to make the device if you’re concerned about toxic emissions coming from your 3D printer.

The primary components needed to make the 3D Printer Emission Monitor are a Particle Photon board, an Adafruit NeoPixel Ring, an Adafruit CCS811 Air Quality Sensor Breakout board, and a piezo buzzer. Other than that, you’ll only need a perfboard, hookup wires, and access to a 3D printer — which you presumably have. Assembly is straightforward, and only requires a bit of easy soldering. After that, you can install the provided code and 3D-print the case. Once the device is built, the LED ring will change color and the piezo buzzer will sound an alarm if VOC levels are too high.

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