Supporting the growth of additive manufacturing through standardisation

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The boom in additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing, must be accompanied by rules, which standardisation offers on various points.

The safety of operators has always been a priority in standardisation. This resulted in the publication in 2020 of the experimental French standard XP E 67-006 “Additive manufacturing – Safety, hygiene and environment – Requirements for metallic materials”. The aim was to develop a standard based on existing good practices to enable any company to equip itself with additive manufacturing equipment and to use it safely, taking into account the specificity of the process and the material. The methodology is based on a characterisation of physical hazardous phenomena (e.g. fire and explosion), hazardous phenomena for the health of the operator or potentially exposed third parties and for the environment. Depending on the risk assessment, the standard proposes means of prevention and protection throughout the value chain from the receipt of the raw material to the output of the part.

This French standard is now the subject of international standardisation work between ISO and ASTM (American standards organisation for testing and materials): ISO/ASTM 52931. Publication of the standard is scheduled for 2023.

In addition, the French UNM 920 commission has initiated discussions on the additive manufacturing of plastic materials. These standards deal with safety in use and do not deal with the machine itself. This is the subject of a specific standard under development: it is important to implement a high level of protection throughout the entire life cycle of the machines, from their manufacture and installation through to their disposal and use. To this end, an international group led by France is working on ISO/ASTM 52938-1 dealing with the safety of LB-PBF machines. These future standards are intended to be harmonised and presumed to be in conformity with the Machinery Directive. This is a challenge as it will be a first experience with ASTM as a partner organisation.

Finally, a working group led by Canada is driving new safety topics. Korea is leading a working group to develop a safety standard dealing with smoke emissions from 3D printers using plastic wire extrusion.

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