3
$\begingroup$

I would like to print fancy plastic cutlery sets or plastic glasses.

Is it safe to do it? Or bad for your health, if so, why?

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ There is one brand that I know of that is undergoing FDA approval in the US. Other than that, I believe there are none. $\endgroup$ – Chase Cromwell Jan 14 '16 at 4:51
6
$\begingroup$

As others have pointed out, PLA isn't specifically not food safe, but materials that have been printed previously can contaminate the PLA.

Additionally, anything 3D printed is extremely porous. Once a part is used for food, moisture and bacteria will accumulate in the pores, and can never be completely cleaned out, contaminating any food that contacts it. It can't be sterilized either, because the temperatures needed for sterilization would deform or melt the plastic.

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I've also heard that while PLA and ABS might be fine, the pigment inside them used to give them some color might be dangerous, because you never know, what it is. $\endgroup$ – hroncok Jan 14 '16 at 9:57
  • $\begingroup$ One alternative I've heard of to combat this problem is dipping the entire part in a food-safe polyurethane varnish, thick enough to block all food contact with the actual material. I have no idea if this is safe, but I've heard of it. $\endgroup$ – user10974 Jun 7 '18 at 19:36
3
$\begingroup$

Regardless of whether the actual filament you are printing is marked as Food Safe by the provider, remember that actually printing the filament might contaminate it.

If you previously have printed a toxic filament on your printer, you cannot be sure no remains of that filament are deposited onto the model. Equally, I believe very few printers only consist of parts that are all marked as Food Safe - the parts that touch the filament that is.

Another aspect of food safety is your ability to properly clean 3D printed objects. Due to the highly structured surface of 3D printed objects, I would not be certain that they are truly clean after washing, particularly since many plastics cannot be cleaned in a dishwasher.

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Related to this, the dyes in PLA are not always as non-toxic as the PLA itself, and it may be difficult or impossible to obtain a full list of ingredients for any given bundle of filament. $\endgroup$ – Jeff Jan 13 '16 at 20:52
2
$\begingroup$

Having performed a quick search through all the resources at the FDA Food Contact Substance resource, I cannot find PLA in any list except an occasional notification that a specific manufacturer has obtained approval for use in specific circumstances, with the notice that such notifications are only valid for that manufacturer and cannot be used to validate another use of a substance.

There are companies that have received approval for their specific formulation and use of PLA as a food contact substance. You may wish to discuss this further with your material supplier to find out if they have approved PLA product available.

Without specific product approval, though, PLA is not on the lists of generally recognized as safe, nor approved for food contact use.

Regulations in other countries may differ, so you may want to search the EU directives, for instance, to find out their opinion on PLA as an FCS.

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.