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In additive manufacturing or AM, 3D printers can create parts for biotech, medical, aerospace, defense, consumer electronics, and other industries using templates. Some of the companies that rely on 3D printing to create devices and components for industries include 3D Systems, Renishaw, and Stratasys.

The additive part of additive manufacturing refers to the way that individual layers are fused together: Powders are deposited in layers, then fused together with inert gases.  Argon is frequently used, as is nitrogen.

Inert gases are safe for use so long as they are contained. Otherwise, these naturally dense gases displace oxygen from the environment. If argon gas were to leak from the 3D printer, it would push oxygen out of the room to the point where employees would experience respiratory problems.

Since argon has no odor or visual cues, employees would not know there was a leak. Best practice is to use oxygen monitors outside machines for leak detection and employee safety.

Another risk is for oxygen to leak into the 3D printer. It’s important to keep oxygen levels below 1,000 ppm using an oxygen analyzer for product purity and to prevent explosions in the manufacturing facility.