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The Smells of 3D Printing

Everyone is fascinated by the process of 3D printing. Objects seem to appear (albeit slowly) right out of thin air. Beyond the visual experience, most people also note the sounds of 3D printing, which in today's 3D printers are much less evident than earlier models. 
 
But there's another experience: smell. While your 3D printer operates it may produce unusual odors that you'll soon become familiar with. We've experienced many. Here are some your nose may soon encounter: 
 
  • ABS plastic. Our least-favorite odor. It's a strong, plasticy vapor that sticks to your nose and mouth. If it isn't toxic, it certainly seems like it is.
  • PLA plastic. Our second-favorite 3D printing odor. PLA, an organic substance typically made from corn starch, exudes a sweet, honey-like aroma during printing. It's hard to resist this delicious smell. 
  • ZCorp/Projet. This powder-based line of 3D printer uses inkjet technology to repeatedly solidify layers of mystery powder into solid objects. While it's doing so, you'll encounter a sharp, tangy vinegar-like aroma. 
  • Nothing. Our favorite 3D printing smell. Some advanced 3D printers include filters to remove small particulates from the build chamber before exhausting to the local environment. While it may be boring, avoiding smells also means you're probably not breathing in anything bad.
 
Image Credit: Wikimedia

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