Safety of Drilling 3-Dimensional–Printed Temporal Bones

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Abstract

Importance

Three-dimensional (3-D) printing of temporal bones is becoming more prevalent. However, there has been no measure of the safety of drilling these models to date. It is unknown whether the heat and sheer from the drill may create harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Objective

To determine the level of exposure to airborne contaminants when conducting high-speed drilling on 3-D–printed models and to explore whether there is a need for exposure control measures.

Design, Setting, and Participants

In this occupational safety assessment carried out in a temporal bone laboratory, 3 individual 3-D–printed temporal bones were made using 3 different materials commonly cited in the literature: polylactic acid (PLA), photoreactive acrylic resin (PAR), and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). Each model was drilled for 40 minutes while the surgeon wore a sampling badge. Sampling was conducted for airborne concentrations of VOCs and total particulate (TP). Monitoring for VOCs was conducted using Assay Technology 521-25 organic vapor badge worn at the surgeon’s neckline. Monitoring for TP was conducted using a polyvinyl chloride filter housed inside a cassette and coupled with an SKC AirChek 52 personal air-sampling pump. Samples were collected and analyzed in accordance with NIOSH Method 500.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Presence of VOCs and TP count exposures at Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) actionable levels.

Results

Results of the VOC sample were less than detection limits except for isopropyl alcohol at 0.24 ppm for PAR. The TP samples were less than the detection limit of 1.4 mg/m3. The results are below all applicable OSHA Action Levels and Permissible Exposure Limits for all contaminants sampled for.

Conclusions and Relevance

Drilling 3-D–printed models made from PLA, ABS, and PAR was safe by OSHA standards. Continued monitoring and safety testing are needed as 3-D–printed technologies are introduced to our specialty.

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