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Are PETG Fumes Toxic? What You Need To Know

Are PETG Fumes Toxic? What You Need To Know | 3D Printing Spot

Updated by

William Stone

/

September 16, 2021

Since they were first made, 3D printers have been growing in popularity. The ability to print a real-life 3D model still seems like an idea from a Sci-Fi film. The rising demand for these printers has also resulted in cutting-edge 3D printing filaments such as PETG. Often regarded as one of the best and safest filaments to work with, PETG has a lot to offer.

PETG is the safest 3D printing filament available today. The fumes produced from pure and uncontaminated PETG are harmless. It’s made of the same contents found in PET, with the addition of glycol.

PETG has been threatening to overtake other filaments in popularity because it is so safe. Read on to learn more about PETG and its characteristics.

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Table of contents:

ARE PETG FUMES TOXIC?

The fumes emitted by heated filaments have raised health concerns. However, there has not been any evidence to prove that PETG fumes are toxic. On the contrary, PETG is safer than other 3D printing filaments, such as ABS.

The fumes are not toxic, but it’s always best to ventilate your printing room properly. There are some carbon emissions from the fumes when printing with PETG, but experts have concluded that they pose no significant health risks.

Unlike ABS that emit unpleasant odors that cause throat and nose irritation, PETG doesn’t smell at all.  

IS PETG FOOD SAFE?

Most beverage bottles are made using PETG. This makes the plastic safe without exposing users to toxic dangers. The fact that it can be sterilized to prevent the leakage of chemicals into food and beverages gives it a competitive advantage over other filaments such as PLA and ABS.

However, there have been some concerns regarding the tiny gaps between the layers that have been known to harbor bacteria.

WHAT IS PETG MADE OF?

PETG contains similar monomers to PET, which is made of terephthalate and polyethylene, with the addition of glycol. All these elements are food safe and would cause no side effects to humans or the environment.

Here is more information about the chemical composition of PETG:

  • Polyethylene – Nearly every plastic material in existence is made of polyethylene. The reason is that it’s durable, has an outstanding lifespan, and is lightweight and flexible enough to have different applications.

Normally, polyethylene is used to make items such as laminates, plastic parts, tubes, and films. It’s highly favored by electrical industries to create cable coating, automotive industries to manufacture rubber and other plastic-related materials, and packaging industries to make plastic bottles and cans.

Generally, the handling of polyethylene is considered safe, and there have been no health-related cases resulting from its use.

  • Terephthalate – Terephthalate is salt from terephthalic acid, which is very safe to handle without any side effects. It is widely used together with polyethylene, and the combination of the two monomers results in the formation of PET.
  • Glycol – Glycol is a chemical compound with a wide variety of applications. However, in PETG, it helps to eliminate the crystallization problems that are normally experienced when PET is overheated.

There have not been any cases pointing to the toxicity of glycol, which makes it safe to be combined with PET to create PETG.

WHAT MAKES PETG IDEAL FOR ITS WORK?

With most 3D printer users scrambling for PETG to use for their printing projects, it’s fair to look at what makes it perfectly fitted for its work.

PETG has several qualities that make it rise above its competitors in the 3D printing market:

  • It has excellent chemical and water resistance. – Most products printed using PETG are not affected by water or chemicals.
  • It is FDA compliant and food-safe. – PETG is food safe and has been FDA approved. This makes it ideal for printing kitchen products.
  • It has high strength and durability. – Any products made of PETG tend to last longer and are capable of withstanding any weight put on them.
  • It is resistant to high temperatures. – Working with high temperatures might not be ideal for the majority of 3D printed models. However, PETG can withstand these temperatures without incurring any damage.

PETG is much stronger and durable compared to other filaments. Its performance has caught the eyes of many 3D modelers, with a promise to improve even more in the future. PETG has threatened to outdo other filaments in terms of durability. It’s also flexible enough to have different applications. The fact that it has no health risks to humans gives it a competitive advantage.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES AND DRAWBACKS OF PETG?

Despite inheriting all the impressive properties of PET and none of its weaknesses, PETG still has some concerns. However, the advantages of this plastic outweigh the disadvantages.

Some of the advantages of PETG include:

  • Food Safety – PETG is FDA approved and is food safe. The fact that PETG models don’t emit any harmful chemicals into food makes it perfect to handle consumables. However, depending on the additives used during manufacturing, it’s best to check whether the product is labeled as food safe.
  • Printing Capabilities – With great Z-axis adhesion and the correct settings, 3D printing with PETG is very straightforward. However, many people tend to have a problem getting the settings right. Since PETG doesn’t shrink that much, many people have begun using it for printing large parts.
  • Physical Properties – PET on its own has impressive physical capabilities, and the fact that PETG has inherited all its strengths and none of its weaknesses makes it an even better option. Compared to other filaments in existence, PETG is strong, flexible, has outstanding impact resistance, and is very lightweight.

Other impressive features include resistance to water (hence being used in beverage companies) and chemicals, which allows it to store any form of chemical substances.

  • Can Withstand UV Rays – ABS and PLA don’t perform well when exposed to strong UV rays over time. However, PETG has proven to solve this problem as it can withstand these rays.

The only disadvantage of PETG is that it poses a challenge of printing bridges between parts. The formation of thin hairs on the surface is another common problem. On matters relating to bridging the gaps, experts have found that lowering the print speed and active cooling can help curb this problem.

HOW TO PROPERLY VENTILATE YOUR PRINTING ROOM

Despite PETG posing no significant health risks, it’s still best to ventilate your printing room.

Here is what you should do to ventilate your 3D printing area:

  • Install Air Purifiers – In a poorly ventilated room, such as a basement, using air purifiers is an ideal option. The air purifiers help to eliminate any toxic fumes and replace them with cleaner and safer air. You can choose between a charcoal air purifier or a HEPA purifier.
  • Create Exhaust Pipes – Making small holes on your wall might seem like a lot of work, but it’s very useful in the long run. Make sure that the pipes stick outside your home to direct all the fumes outside.
  • Invest in an Air Extractor – Like air purifiers, air extractors help to improve the ventilation of the printing room. However, air extractors help to eliminate fumes by sucking the heated air and replacing it with cooler air. You can choose between the reversible airflow extractors that lack a thermostat and the twin reversible airflow extractors that are built with a thermostat.

Final Thought

PETG is a harmless, very popular, and safe 3D printing filament. Even though it’s new to the market compared to other filaments, it has managed to address most of the weaknesses of other filaments. It’s easy to work with, flexible enough to have different applications, and can withstand extreme heat and pressure.

About THE AUTHOR

William Stone

William Stone

William has spent 20 plus years in the custom manufacturing industry as a COO, CEO and Owner of various custom product businesses. His experience has exposed him to all types of manufacturing from die cast, die struck, injection molding, CNC machining, laser etching, engraving and of course 3D printing.

Learn more about William Stone

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Are PETG Fumes Toxic? What You Need To Know

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