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Research projects

Nanosafety Project

About this project

Nano Safety Project logotypeAdditive manufacturing industry and nanosafety challenges 
Additive manufacturing (AM), or three-dimensional (3D) printing, is a new technology offering wide opportunities to create complex structures with applications in industry, biomedicine and in everyday life. However, like many new technologies, AM potentially involves uncertainties regarding the health of operators and end-users. AM processes usually employ high temperatures and different nanoparticulate powders (metallic or polymeric) as feedstock and generally release diverse volatile organic compounds and varying amounts of nanoparticles (NPs) during the production or post-production processing phase, machine maintenance and cleaning or when operators remove the personal protective equipment. Therefore, comprehensive assessment of the exposure pathways and health risks of NPs pollution related to AM is urgently required.

The Nanosafety Project will assess safety of NPs used in AM industry by enhancing research synergies among the partners and working packages and by translating research data into useful knowledge for the diversity of stakeholders, from machine operators, R&D scientists, consumers to policymakers.

Figure: Nanosafety Project overview

Research

Nanomaterial exposure 
This part of the study aims to map and track particle exposure in order to identify the locations/workplaces of potential harmful exposure.

Nanomaterial characterization 
This part of the study aims to characterize particles during the AM process as well as the airborne particles collected in the work environment.

Nanomaterial mode of action
This part of the study aims to elucidate the toxicity and biological effects, including endocrine disruption, genotoxicity or the inflammatory potential of characterized AM particles using in vitro model systems.

Nanomaterial health impact
This part of the study aims to monitor the workers in the AM industry with the goal to understand long-term exposure risks.

Industrial collaboration and knowledge transfer
This part of the project aims at communicating with the industry and getting more partners involved in the future studies. 

Vision for the industrial partners 
The focus vision for AMEXCI is to unravel the potential consequences of working with nanomaterials and to secure a safer work environment and improved working guidelines throughout the AM process chain. Top priorities for AMEXCI are understanding during what AM operation the exposure risk is the highest, what type of protective equipment is necessary or is there any concern around 3D-printers when they are working, what kind of equipment is necessary to clean the machines or just show them to the visitors.

The focus vision for Absolent is to obtain the information about specific areas and processes within the AM that could result in release of hazardous particulate materials that should be considered when designing the air management in the AM facilities. Moreover, understanding the size and the concentration of the released particles is very valuable when developing new filters devoted for the AM industry.

Collectively, it is important to obtain these data before the AM technology becomes more widespread in order to avoid health risks for workers and the product end-users.

Vision for the academic partners and the general population 
Combining the expertise of all academic partners will be a critical aspect in developing a unique scientific core and a large collaborative research center around the nanomaterial safety. Within the nanomaterial safety research center, academy, industry and other stakeholders will work together to identify the locations/workplaces of harmful exposure, to understand the health impact of exposure, and to accumulate knowledge on how to create a safer environment in the AM industry and in the AM consumer sector. Another important objective of this project is to create a communicative platform with industrial partners and ensure that the gained knowledge finds the in-house industrial application.

The whole community, including scientific and general public, will have the access to the project’s progress through the regular scientific publications and through the project’s webpage. Direct feedback to industrial partners, media or other interested organizations will be regularly managed through project newsletters or workshops. Close collaboration with AMEXCI, who has a unique role as a joint industrial initiative with a predetermined mission of supporting the AM industry through raising awareness and aiding in implementation and advancement of AM technologies within the Swedish industry.

Research teams