Investigating additive manufacturing safety in prek-12: informing a safer learning envrionment
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Additive Manufacturing technologies (e.g. 3D Printing) have been propelled into the PreK-12school environment. As reported by Love and Roy (2016), the rapid adoption of 3D printing has led to concerns over unforeseen health hazards that may emerge over time. The release of gaseous substances from the melting of 3D printing plastic filaments have been documented to contain Volatile Organic Carbon (VOC) and nanoparticles of various sizes (Merlo & Mazzoni,2015).The risk is considered greater with 3D printers that utilize no or only partial enclosures or lack an adequate ventilation or filtration system. Consequently, safety experts in K-12 STEM education (Love and Roy) have advocated against the use of ABS in lieu of safer thermoplastics such as Poly(lactic acid) or PLA. Unfortunately, the strength, flexibility, machinability, and higher temperature resistance of ABS make it often a preferred plastic for engineers, and professional applications. It is clear that safety is a major concern with use of 3D printers in PreK-12 classrooms but there is little understanding about how 3D printers are currently be used and even less consensus about how to create a safer learning environment. These findings suggest the inquiry: In what ways (types, materials, environments) are 3D printers currently being used in PreK-12 Education and how can we inform the creation of a safer learning environment?
Department of Integrative STEM Education
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