What Everybody Ought to Know About Food-Safe 3D Printing

Following our post about household 3D prints, many of you sent us questions regarding food-safe 3D printing and different materials. We have compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions and answered them below.

#1 ABS contains toxic elements like butadiene and styrene, can they leach into food or drinks? 

ABS is generally considered unsuitable for printing kitchen appliances such as food containers, cups and cutlery. However, you should know that ABS has high melting temperatures and is very stable to decomposition under normal use, so it won’t leach toxic chemicals into food or drinks. Food safety also depends on what your object is used for. To be on the safe side, we recommend printing with ABS only items that don’t come in contact with food and drinks for very long and you don’t expose them to heating.

#2 Can acetone finish eliminate the risk of bacteria buildups in my designs? 

Acetone finish eliminates the small voids between the layers of your print. That by no means makes your 3d print food-safe. Acetone is highly volatile and toxic solvent and a moderate intake can cause a nose, throat and lung irritation. Exposure to high levels of acetone can be very harmful to your health and we strongly advise you not to use acetone on prints that come in touch with food or drinks.

#3 Can I clean my 3d prints in the dishwasher?  

Most filaments, especially PLA are sensitive to heat, so hot water can deform your prints or even worse, break them into little pieces that can damage your dishwasher. It is better to wash your prints by hand and use an anti-bacterial detergent.

#4 Should I get a stainless steel nozzle? 

Brass hot ends may contain lead which can contaminate your prints. Thus, if you are regularly printing kitchen utensils, it is definitely worth getting a stainless steel nozzle.

#5 Is PLA a food-safe material? 

PLA is generally considered food-safe because it is derived from corn, tapioca or sugar cane. Its decomposition is product are naturally occurring chemicals based on lactic acid. Lactic acid is a common food ingredient and often used as a slow-dissolving material for medical implants. However, PLA’s melting temperature is much lower than ABS (55-65C), so you should keep it mind that your prints will start melting at normal coffee temperatures.

In summary, yes, it is safe to print items that don’t come into contact with food or drinks for very long and aren’t used very often such as egg separators and cookie cutters. But we really recommend that you stick to non-3D printed food containers, coffee mugs and plates. We know how fun it is to add some sparkle to everyday objects but some things are safer and better done the conventional way