Repairs You Can Print: Take a deep breath thanks to a 3D printed fume extractor

If you are a maker, chances are that you will be exposed to unhealthy fumes at some point during your ventures. Whether they involve soldering, treating wood, laser cutting, or 3D printing, it is in your best interest to do so in a well ventilated environment. What seems like sound advice in theory though is unfortunately not always a given in practice — in many cases, the workspace simply lacks the possibility, especially for hobbyists tinkering in their homes. In other cases, the air circulation is adequate, but the extraction itself could be more efficient by drawing out the fumes right where they occur. The latter was the case for [Zander] when he decided to build his own flexible hose fume extractor that he intends to use for anything from soldering to chemistry experiments.

Built around not much more than an AC fan, flex duct, and activated carbon, [Zander] designed and 3D printed all other required parts that turns it into an extractor. Equipped with a pre-filter to hold back all bigger particles before they hit the fan, the air flow is guided either through the active carbon filter, or attached to another flex duct for further venting. You can see more details of his build and how it works in the video after the break.

Workspace safety is often still overlooked by hobbyists, but improved air circulation doesn’t even need to be that complex for starters. There’s also more to read about fumes and other hazardous particles in a maker environment, and how to handle them.

12 thoughts on “Repairs You Can Print: Take a deep breath thanks to a 3D printed fume extractor

  1. Seems running the fan ‘in’ the fume path might not be the best thing long-term. I wonder if it would be possible to 3D-print the baffle configuration of a ‘bladeless fan’ and use the feed-through for fume extraction? That way, you get a good extraction volume but the fan or motor would not be affected by the fumes themselves.

    1. An induced-draft “bladeless” arrangement might work if the inducer is very near the exit, but they fail badly if they have to push through much pipe: the backpressure due to the air you inject will usually cause air to just go backward, back into the shop, kinda negating the whole thing.

      The bladeless fan approach is also intrinsically much less efficient than, say, a squirrel cage. You spend a lot of motor power compressing air, to convert (some of) that pressure into a high velocity stream, then transfer the momentum of that high-velocity stream to a larger volume of low-velocity air. As you may recall from high school physics, most of the motor power = air pressure = kinetic energy is lost in that momentum transfer process.)

      1. The local HVAC company let me have the squirrel cage, with its motor, from an old house furnace (not mine) a number of years ago.
        I keep thinking of different things to do with it, just never implement them…(sigh!)

    2. I think it depends on the type of fan you have. An AC fan, as used in this case, doesn’t have a commutator. Which means it has no open metal parts, the windings are isolated, if not encased in resin, anyways. Magnets could be covered with glue/resin aswell. If the fan itself is made of plastic (polyethylene to be exact), the whole thing will be resistant to most chemicals as is.

    3. I don’t see why his fan would be damaged by some fumes.

      His carbon filter looks a lot more dubious.
      Half of the carbon is not used because the air exits sideways.
      3 little cylinders offer a lot more resistance than a single one with the diameter of the pipe.
      Paul ( The other one).

  2. I made something like that by attaching an 80mm fan to the end of a piece of flex duct using duct tape, with the intent of replacing the duct tape with a 3D printed part once I get a 3D printer. Didn’t bother with any kind of filter since it just exhausts out the window.

  3. Extractor fans should be at the point of egress so that there isn’t a positive system inside the building. Having the fan inside means that if you have a puncture in the positive pressure side you’ll be venting fumes back into your system.

  4. i was just wondering, for a lot of people are 3D printer fumes noticeable? I just have heard about this from time to time but my printer doesnt seem to have any noticeable fumes with PLA, ABS, or PETG so far. I use an E3D hotend which seems pretty common so I don’t get why it seem to be an issue for some and not others.

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