Smart 3D Printer Emission Monitor

Monitor the emission of toxic chemicals from 3D Printing

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The Problem

3D printing has become increasingly popular and accessible. As they become more desktop-friendly and affordable, they are now making their way into residential homes and classrooms.

But is 3D printing really safe in a home environment? 3D printing is a relatively new technology, and its danger is often overlooked. The research on the toxicity of 3D printing is few and far between, but one thing is certain: harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted during 3D Printing.

One of the most toxic VOCs released during 3D printing is formaldehyde - a known human carcinogen. It's released during the melting of ABS plastic, which just happens to be one of the most popular 3D printing materials.

This monitor serves two purposes: to alarm the user when the workspace environment becomes toxic and collect VOC emission data.

To collect emission data, the sensor of choice is CCS811, a hot-plate MOX sensor capable of detecting a wide range of VOCs, including formaldehyde. The detected concentration is transmitted via Wi-Fi to a smartphone app, which displays and plots the data.

To inform the user of the toxicity, I used this guideline to create 3 risk levels based on the concentration of VOCs: low, moderate, and high. When the risk level becomes moderate, the light indicator will change from green to yellow. This is also accompanied by a notification to your phone, which tells you to open a window and ventilate. When the risk level becomes high, the indicator will turn red. This time, in addition to the phone notification, the onboard buzzer will start buzzing to alarm the user to leave the area.


  • 1 × Particle Photon
  • 1 × NeoPixel Ring - 12 x 5050 RGB LED
  • 1 × Perfboard
  • 1 × Adafruit CCS811 Air Quality Sensor Breakout
  • 1 × Piezo Buzzer

View all 8 components

View project log

  • 1
    Main Components
  • 2
    Prepare the Components

    Cut out three male headers and solder them onto the GND, PWR, and IN pin.

    Trim the perf board to roughly 80mm x 35mm. I find it easier and cleaner to do this with a diagonal cutter instead of a saw.

    Trim three female header pins to match the male header of the Particle Photon and CCS811.

  • 3

    Place the components as shown. Note that the piezo buzzer should be underneath the CCS811.

    Wire and solder according to the schematic.

View all 6 instructions

Enjoy this project?



Daniel wrote 06/28/2020 at 20:36 point

I have a difficulties to put that program in Arduino IDE. Could you advise me please?

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Gary Peng wrote 06/29/2020 at 08:21 point

The program runs in Particle IDE, it's not compatible with Arduino.

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Michal Malus wrote 04/19/2020 at 01:18 point

Did you consider adding a PMS5003 sensor to get the PM2.5/10 values as well?

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Gary Peng wrote 06/29/2020 at 08:23 point

I did, but most PM2.5/10 sensors are quite bulky and expensive :(

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andrewporter2006 wrote 10/14/2019 at 21:37 point

I'm probably the only one but i can't really understand the diagram that you provided is there a video or some sort of other diagram you have i can look at for wiring of the wires.

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bentech4you wrote 10/01/2019 at 15:50 point

anyone tried this on nodemcu or wemos?

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Greg H wrote 09/09/2019 at 17:58 point

Great project. Any thoughts on doing a "budget remix" with some cheaper components? I was thinking Wemos D1 (ESP8266), generic Pixel Ring... Could probably get the costs down to $25 or less and might not even need to change the form factor. 

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Hazel Mitchell wrote 09/07/2019 at 10:38 point

This is pretty neat! I help with the 3D printing service at my university so I might see if we can get one of these monitors set up in our printing hub.

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robomaniac wrote 09/04/2019 at 17:45 point

really nice work. The housing looks great and the blynk demo is sharp. I click the link to understand how you did the app and saw it was blynk. I will definitivaly give it a try, I have lots of particle photon laying around. Thanks and great work!

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Deneteus wrote 09/04/2019 at 08:53 point

Dude, ABS itself is dangerous because there are 20+  chemicals your are exposed to including Styrene when it breaks down which is why most people use PETG instead. Unless this sensor can measure all of these in different particle sizes then it's not really doing anything. Most of the testing that got published that the media ran with was done in super small enclosures that aren't even close to the size of a room in a home. HEPA filters don't even do anything for that matter because of the particle size and some homes have more VOCs than some filament could ever output.

'TVOC and IVOC emissions from 3D printing vary largely among filament materials,
while top emitting IVOCs were always associated with filament material monomers. The filament additives potentially contributed to the variance of IVOCs inconsistently detected 11 among filaments. Specifically, styrene was released from ABS, caprolactam from nylon, lactide and methyl methacrylate from PLA. Printer operating conditions like nozzle temperature, filament type, filament and printer brand, and filament color all affected VOC emissions. The exposure modeling results showed the personal and room exposure concentrations of known or suspected to be carcinogens or irritants may exceed levels known to cause health effects especially to sensitive communities.' 

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the_3d6 wrote 09/12/2019 at 05:21 point

Since ABS is well studied, it's enough to measure formaldehyde alone and use known data to estimate concentration of other substances (proportion in the air will be relatively stable - not precise of course, but this project is not about precision). Basically all that needs to be done - it's to get through these data and change alarm levels according to risk from all these compounds (relative to formaldehyde concentration).

Of course that won't do if you work with formaldehyde in the same room for other purposes, but if you only 3D print - it's good enough :)

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Richard Hogben wrote 09/03/2019 at 18:21 point

Really like this one, the light and Blynk app together look great

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