Safety consulting and certification firm UL has published an Outline of Investigation for Additive Manufacturing Facility Safety Management. The UL 3400 document will be used to certify operations handling both polymer and metal powdered feedstock – an action often requested by the developing 3D printing industry.
A history of risk assessment
Incorporated in 1901, UL is a leader in risk assessment for engineering and construction industries operating in 104 countries across the globe. Making the most of its expertise, the firm has since launched a number of industrial training programs to help optimise safe and efficient operation in manufacturing environments.
Since 2016, the firm has collaborated on a program for metal 3D printing training with EOS, and the University of Louisville in Kentucky is home to UL’s Additive Manufacturing Competency Center (UL AMCC).
Released mid 2017, UL’s report on the safety of desktop 3D printers was a well received publication, serving to eradicate concerns about emissions from fused filament fabrication.
Powdered material saftey
In industrial environments, dealing with high temperatures and reactive metals, a great deal of care needs to be taken when handling and post processing 3D printed components to ensure the health of personnel. As a particulate substance, powdered materials have the potential to cause harm when ingested in large quantities, and need to be stored in specific conditions to protect the work space.
Norman Lowe, UL AM Global Program Manager, explains, “As an Outline of Investigation, UL 3400 helps enable the industry to move faster and be nimble in addressing the need for facility safety guidance.”
Any facility using machines like EOS’ P 500, the 3D Systems range, Concept Laser’s M2 Cusing machine and more from companies like Arcam, Renishaw and SLM Solutions, may find the UL 3400 document useful when considering best practice.
Compliance with the outline results in the award of a UL Additive Manufacturing Facility Certificate.
An adaptable standard
Equipment, training and the facility as a whole are also taken into consideration when applying for UL certification. “The better an AM facility staff understands the inherent risks and hazards – and how to mitigate them to an acceptable level,” adds Lowe, “the less likely an incident could happen.”
He continues, “UL 3400 and the certification have been developed with the global market in mind. It’s also structured in a modular manner so it can be easily adapted for regional code and safety requirements.”
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Featured image shows removing 3D printed parts from the excess powdercake in a polymer sintering system. Photo by Photo by Arthur Los, Milo-Profi studio. Copyright by Flanders Investment & Trade via imaterialise