3D Printing Hurts!

By on April 18th, 2014 in learning, oc


Everyone knows that personal 3D printing can be a ton of fun, but did you know it can also be hazardous to your personal appendages? We certainly do.

So far this week we’ve managed to incur a rather deep cut and a burn, suggesting it might be time to remind folks of some of the most common mechanical hazards found in personal 3D printers. 

The burn (recent example shown here) occurs when a sleepy 3D printing operator somehow places their finger (or other appendage) on the tip of a hot extruder. Burning is almost instant, as the extruder is likely more than +200C. The good news is that extruder surfaces are small, and in fact the tip is very small, so you won’t incur extensive burns. But it still hurts. 

If you do happen to burn yourself, we recommend immediately immersing the abused appendage in cool water until the pain diminishes. Don’t pick open the blister, as you’ll expose your body to the risk of infection. Things may feel weird for a couple of days, but you’ll definitely recover. 

Another possible injury is cuts, shown at the top. This type of injury typically occurs when prying a stuck print off a build platform with a sharp-edged metal lifter. Sharp enough to pull it off the platform and more than sharp enough to go right through your hand. 

Recommendation: plan your prying carefully. Always assume the print will suddenly dislodge and go flying across the room – work out in advance where the sharp instrument will travel and make certain no important body parts are in its potential path. If you ignore that advice and recklessly jab metal into your person, we recommend disinfectants and bandages. 

The final injury we’re describing has actually not happened to us. At least so far this week, anyway. It’s pinching. Your 3D printer is a mechanical device with moving parts. Many machines are “open air”, intended for supreme visual observation during printing. But “observation” does not mean “stick your hands inside”, in spite of what you might think. There is a huge temptation to fiddle with stray plastic or lifty builds during live printing. We say: Resist Those Urges and keep your hands in your pockets. If the print is going awry, just cancel it and start again. Your fingers will thank you.