I am currently working on parts for a custom prosthesis.

My main concern at the moment is to find biocompatible materials that can be 3D printed from a UP or a Reprap. The piece would need to be in contact with the skin for extended periods of time, probably around 17 hours a day on average.

The main concerns I have are:

  • Skin reactions caused by prolonged contact
  • Skin reactions and bruising caused by friction
  • Degradation of the materials due to prolonged exposure to skin secretions and sweat
  • Risks of toxicity in the compounds generated by the aforementioned material degradation

Which materials can you recommend?

Any extensive data (from testing) would be greatly appreciated.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Is there any reason general-purpose plastics (like ABS, PLA) are not suitable for your application? They are used in everything from keyboards, phones, Lego bricks to drinking cups and cutlery. It seems unlikely that skin contact with these plastics could be an issue. $\endgroup$ Jan 13, 2016 at 9:01
  • $\begingroup$ @TomvanderZanden I am concerned about prolonged use and reaction to skin's secretions, but this was unclear in my quesion, I will elaborate. Thanks for the input! $\endgroup$ Jan 13, 2016 at 10:16
  • $\begingroup$ @AdamDavis I see your point. Would yopu feel more comfortable with an edited question stating that this question is about tests, results and observations, but not certifications and medical advice, and should not be taken as such? $\endgroup$ Jan 13, 2016 at 12:49

2 Answers 2


There are printers designed for medical use, and the manufacturers supply them with varying levels of certification and testing, however I've not seen a filament manufacturer certify their material as bio-compatible separate from the printer. The printing process changes the material slightly in the best case (and significantly with poor temperature control or badly set parameters), so even if bio-compatible filament were found, the resulting product might not achieve the same level of bio-compatibility.

If your intent is to use hobbyist level machine for medical purposes, you might simply want to use an interface, such as a sock or a molded/cast polymer that you know to be bio-compatible between the printed part and the skin.

  • $\begingroup$ I guess it's still a bit early to have certitudes on these questions. Thank you for your input. I will wait to see if there are more answers out there, but ultimately will tinker with the materials myself, and make the results available to the general public. $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2016 at 8:03

If you want to know something about what you are questioning, it is interesting to you to read http://e-nable.org/resources/prosthetics-students-consultation/

That's a link with complementary information how to print 3D as a volunteer.

I know that is not enough information about products, but I believe Nylon is the best recommend because it is what generally printers are using, though.

This website supports information with Dr. Chang by the e-mail [email protected]

but there insnt information about the components used in the prosthetics, but I know that Nylon is the best suited to it nowadays.

If you prefer there is a site with makers loging information about PETG: https://www.matterhackers.com/news/how-to-succeed-when-printing-with-petg-filament

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Hello and welcome to the stack! Please take the tour. Link Only answers are not what the stack strives for. E-nable is a well known program about printing external prothetics, but it is done with non-biocompatible materials, as they don't need to be biocompatible. $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Feb 2, 2019 at 22:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Your note to the mail of Dr. Chang is nice, but you might want to tell why you tell us polyamide (nylon) is best. You only added more links, tell us their contents $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Feb 4, 2019 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer but we are looking for comprehensive answers that provide some explanation and context. Very short answers cannot do this, so please edit your answer to explain why it is right. Additionally, we prefer answers to be self contained where possible. link only answers are frowned upon (as links tend to rot) & will be rendered useless if the linked-to content disappears. If you add more context and detail from the link, it is more likely that people will find your answer useful. $\endgroup$
    – Greenonline
    Feb 6, 2019 at 1:41

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