I want to FDM 3D-print an object, and be able to effectively clean the surface with standard kitchen cleaning solutions. While the 3D-printed object would not come in direct contact with food, it would come in contact with utensils used with food (e.g. forks, measuring cups, etc.). One of my main concerns is with being able to adequately clean the object when layer lines and general material porosity create areas that dirt/germs may accumulate. I believe my general requirements are:

  • No high temperatures are anticipated
  • Common FDM materials (PLA, ABS, PETG)
  • Coatings or post-processing is fine

How do I make a 3D-printed surface easily cleanable and relatively food-safe?


1 Answer 1


There is a huge difference between "Certified food -safe" and "is actually perfectly safe for you to use at home" . – Carl Witthoft Sep 18 '18 at 14:54

Regarding certified food safe I point to Ender 3 is capable of food safe printing? - you probably can't get the certification with a 3D printer, but, as Carl said, you might manage a pretty safe at home. So let's assume you go for that.

To make a surface easily cleanable, it is best to make sure that the imperfections of the print are filled up and that there are no undercuts that are not easily cleanable. If you need it smoothed, do it mechanically (e.g. sanding)! Heat or chemicals as a smoothing method are to be avoided, as they can damage the print and accumulate the chemicals used in smoothing in the plastic from where they are released over time.

To make the material both smooth and more safe at the same time, a generous coating with a food-safe lacquer or similar coating would be possible. This also might alleviate the problems with possibly having contaminants in the printing material - we don't know always what is in the printed plastic.

  • $\begingroup$ Trish has the right idea. ABS sands more easily than PLA (opinion based on experience) and you can get quite good results with high grit count abrasives. Pro-net up to 3000 grit makes for a very smooth surface and Micromesh (wet sanding only) will create a shiny/glossy surface. $\endgroup$
    – fred_dot_u
    Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 22:18
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, I've read those answers and I'm not aiming for "perfect" food safety, like a SS nozzle. Not using vapor smoothing is good feedback as well. I think I'd go nuts trying to sand something with the shapes, contours, and size that I'm thinking of, but then epoxy costs might break the bank as well. $\endgroup$
    – W5VO
    Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 22:28
  • $\begingroup$ Have you tried spray or dip in polyurethane? It should make a good food-safe coating if it adheres and smooths well. Some claim to be self-leveling which might help with layer smoothing. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 1:09
  • $\begingroup$ Lacquer does fill up grooves to some degree. $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 7:50

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