Graff, P., Ståhlbom, B., Nordenberg, E., Graichen, A., Johansson, P. and Karlsson, H. (2016). “Evaluating Measuring Techniques for Occupational Exposure during Additive Manufacturing of Metals: A Pilot Study.” Journal of Industrial Ecology doi:10.1111/jiec.12498
Abstract: Additive manufacturing that creates three-dimensional objects by adding layer upon layer of material is a new technique that has proven to be an excellent tool for the manufacturing of complex structures for a variety of industrial sectors. Today, knowledge regarding particle emissions and potential exposure-related health hazards for the operators is limited. The current study has focused on particle numbers, masses, sizes, and identities present in the air during additive manufacturing of metals. Measurements were performed during manufacturing with metal powder consisting essentially of chromium, nickel, and cobalt. Instruments used were Nanotracer (10 to 300 nanometers [nm]), Lighthouse (300 nm to 10 micrometers), and traditional filter-based particle mass estimation followed by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Results showed that there is a risk of particle exposure at certain operations and that particle sizes tended to be smaller in recycled metal powder compared to new. In summary, nanosized particles were present in the additive manufacturing environment and the operators were exposed specifically while handling the metal powder. For the workers’ safety, improved powder handling systems and measurement techniques for nanosized particles will possibly have to be developed and then translated into work environment regulations. Until then, relevant protective equipment and regular metal analyses of urine is recommended.