The Characterization of Particles in Makerspaces | AIChE

The Characterization of Particles in Makerspaces

MakerSpaces are increasing popular community spaces. These spaces, designed to allow crafting, machining, and other similar “making” activities, have been appearing at libraries, in schools, ranging from elementary to university level, and in community spaces, among others.

Individual devices common in MakerSpaces have been characterized by others. For example 3-D printers are a known source of small particles . We are characterizing the spaces as a whole to get information regarding likely human exposure and potential ventilation strategies to mitigate that risk.

Particle size distributions and particle concentrations are essential parameters when evaluating health impacts because they provide an idea of what kind of particles are suspended in the air and how many there are after a certain procedure was run. A Condensation Particle Counter (CPC) 3007 and Optical Particle Sizer (OPS) were used to test total particle concentration and particle size distribution (>300 nm), respectively. Both devices were set up in the MakerE at Bucknell University, which is equipped with 2 large M2 Makergear 3D printers, preheated circuit mounting bed with reflow nozzle, soldering station with fume hoods, Printed Circuit Mill, and more. There were 3 testing locations arranged in the work area (where the 3-D printers are located), at the edge of the work area, and in the lounging area outside of the work area. Results showed that while peaks in concentration at the closer sites could be higher, the farthest location showed the particles lingering in the air for longer and accumulating more when machines were run back to back in one trial.

The next step is to capture the exact size of the particles present and increase the scale of site variation. The particles will be characterized more specifically by placing the Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer (SMPS) in the work area of the MakerE. The SMPS and OPS can run for multiple days in a row which will help analyze how the particles in the room change from day to day and throughout each day. The ventilation will be varied switching off the main circulation system in the room, turning on and off the fume hoods, and opening and closing the chambers that contain the Printers. Once the MakerE is characterized we will focus on another Maker Space which is less focused on electronics and more focused on craft-type equipment.