A blog post published on November 14, 2015 by the 3D printing community platform Pinshape informs about 3D printed objects and food safety. The article addresses five concerns, including advice, regarding the use of 3D printed articles for food contact.
1) Bacteria can build up in the cracks and spaces of printed material. Therefore, articles should be sealed with a food safe sealant which will cover the crevices. It is recommended not to use printed objects for raw meat or eggs.
2) The filaments may contain toxic chemicals. Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS, CAS 9003-56-9) should not be used for food contact as it contains potentially carcinogenic chemicals that can leach into food. Biobased polymer polylactic acid (PLA, CAS 26100-51-6) is generally considered safe for food contact. However, it can contain additives (e.g. color or other features) that may be unsafe for ingestion. There are filaments and additives approved as food safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
3) Desktop printers using ABS and PLA are high emitters of ultra-fine particles (UFPs) according to a study. Inhalation or ingestion of UFPs may lead to adverse health effects. There are no recommendations given in the article regarding this issue.
4) 3D printed articles may deform and warp when washed in hot water and are not dishwasher safe. Articles should be washed with warm water and mild anti-bacterial detergent immediately after use.
5) 3D printer brass extruders may contain lead which could contaminate the printed material. There are however stainless steel extruders available which are considered safe for food contact.
In general, the article concludes that the filament should be chosen carefully and contact time with food should be limited.
Pinshape (November 14, 2015). “10 things you need to know about 3D printing & food safety.”