Nanotechnology Research Center
NIOSH, through its Nanotechnology Research Center (NTRC), leads the federal government in research focused on providing guidance on the occupational safety and health implications and applications of advanced manufacturing, including nanomaterial manufacturing.
NTRC workplace research efforts
NIOSH has a team of researchers dedicated to conducting (complete, comprehensive, holistic) workplace assessments of processes, materials, and control technologies associated with advanced material and manufacturing processes, such as nanomanufacturing and the rapidly developing technologies of additive manufacturing and 3D printing. One element of this research effort offers to research laboratories, producers and manufacturers working with advanced manufacturing processes and materials an opportunity to participate in a voluntary, cost-free, on-site assessment. NIOSH is also conducting several investigator-led targeted research projects on specific categories of additive manufacturing and is seeking partners to participate in on-site assessments to expand efforts in those areas.
NTRC laboratory research efforts
NIOSH has a robust laboratory research program that investigates the toxicity, sampling, dustiness and explosivity behavior, and emissions characteristics of nanomaterials. NIOSH also investigates the key aspects of 3D printer emissions, including: toxicity of volatile and particulate components; full characterizations of emissions from different printers; evaluating exposure sampling methods; and investigating the dustiness and explosivity behavior of feed materials. NIOSH investigators have measured emissions from desktop 3D printers in a specifically designed test chamber that simulates real-world conditions. One publication reported that printing with filament that contained carbon nanotubes released particles into air, some of which contained carbon nanotubes. Another publication reported that printing with liquid resins released particles into air that contained metals.