Materials and Safety

How to safely investigate new materials within the context of the Fab Lab.

Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)

What is a MSDS?

A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is a document that provides health and safety information about products, substances or chemicals that are classified as hazardous substances or dangerous goods.

An MSDS should provide information on the following:

  • The Manufacturer or importing supplier.

  • The product's name, ingredients and properties.

  • How the product can affect people's health.

  • Precautions for using or storing it safely.

When do I have to supply a MSDS?

If you are supplying your own material to be processed at the Fab Lab, our technicians may ask you to provide a MSDS if the material is out of the ordinary. They will need to check that it is safe to either laser cut or CNC mill before accepting your material.

Where can I find a MSDS?

Manufacturers and importers of dangerous goods and hazardous substances must prepare an MSDS for each of their products. You should be able to find the MSDS for your material on the manufacturer's website or contact your supplier.

Do you have an example MSDS so I know what to look for?

Example Scenario

Natural, Found & Recycled material.

You're making a furniture piece for ExLab. The desired material for your project is a piece of salvaged hardwood. You want to use the CNC Router to mill it.

Before you spend time and money obtaining timber, collect as much information as possible about the condition and origin of the piece you're interested in. Compose an email including, but not limited to:

  • Species of timber.

  • Known issues - does it contain metal parts from its previous use? has it been treated with any chemicals that you are aware of?

  • It's previous use, if known (e.g, train track sleeper).

  • It's dimensions.

  • Your intended use/process for machining, in this case CNC router.

  • A photograph.

The exact nature of the information in your email should be specific to the material. Fab Lab staff may reply to your initial inquiry requesting more information.

Should the initial request be approved, conditions may be applied. For this example, conditions might be:

  • Visual inspection required before final okay.

  • Specific PPE or other controls may need to be adhered to.

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