There are more uses for a 3D printer than we can ever count, as the 3D printing process essentially allows us to manufacture anything that we can imagine in the comfort of our own home, whether it’s a small and simple figurine for decorative purposes, or a more complex functional object, such as an SD card holder, that makes our lives easier.
On the other hand, one area that we cannot consider 3D printing to be entirely successful is printing food-safe objects, as there are various issues with it, ranging from bacteria and mold build-up within the 3D printed models to harmful materials, such as metals and dirt in the 3D printer making their way into the final product.
In today’s article, we will be focusing our efforts on SLA 3D printing in particular instead of FDM printing that we regularly talk about, where we will be discussing the food safety of the UV resin used in SLA 3D printing and find out whether it’s possible to 3D print food-safe objects.
So, is the UV resin used for 3D printing food safe in its liquid or cured form?
Unless stated otherwise by the manufacturer, UV resin used in 3D printing is not food safe in either its liquid form or its cured form, and as a result, models you have 3D printed with the SLA process are not suitable for usage in food-related environments in any shape or form.
In the upcoming sections, we will further examine whether liquid and cured 3D printing UV resin is food safe in more detail and take a look at a specific type of 3D printing UV resin, known as plant-based resins, in terms of food safety.
Is Liquid 3D Printing UV Resin Food Safe?
As the chemical properties of 3D printing UV resin change based on the form it takes, let’s start by examining its food safety while it’s in the standard liquid form before the 3D printing and the curing process that solidifies it.
Liquid 3D printing UV resin, unless the manufacturer explicitly states otherwise, is not food-safe and, in fact, highly toxic, meaning that you should refrain from contacting the 3D printing UV resin in its liquid form and inhaling its vapors by taking the necessary safety measures.
For safety measures, we highly recommend wearing clothes that cover your entire skin, a pair of chemical-resistant gloves, a respirator, and protective goggles whenever you are planning on handling UV resin, including printing with it, not to be affected by UV resin’s adverse effects on your well-being.
Finally, it’s vital to refrain from 3D printing with UV resin in a room that you cannot ventilate, as ventilation is essential for the vapors of the UV resin to leave the room as quickly as possible, whether you achieve it by opening a window or using an exhaust.
Is Cured 3D Printing UV Resin Food Safe?
As the cured form of 3D printing UV resin is entirely different than its liquid form, we need to analyze the food safety of the UV resin separately in this situation to have a better idea of whether it’s food safe or not.
Unfortunately, 3D printing UV resin remains a chemical that still is not food safe after the drying and curing process, making the 3D printed parts that you have obtained through the SLA 3D printing process unsuitable for usage in any food-related area.
On the other hand, the curing process does cause the UV resin not to be toxic anymore, meaning that it does not emit any vapors that you shouldn’t inhale or pose a danger in the case of skin contact, meaning you can use it without any problems for non-food-related 3D printing.
While it’s technically possible to apply a coating to SLA 3D printed objects to make them food safe in professional environments, we do not recommend conducting such a process in a household environment due to the risks involved with the errors during application and the long-term degradation of the coating due to factors such as dishwasher use, which will expose the non-food-safe UV resin once more.
Are Plant-Based 3D Printing UV Resins Food Safe?
Plant-based UV resin is a particular type of 3D printing UV resin that is made of biodegradable material, such as soybean oil, which makes it eco-friendly and gives it attributes such as not having a strong odor like standard UV resin does.
Like standard 3D printing UV resins, plant-based 3D printing UV resins are also not food safe whether they are in their cured or liquid state, as they still contain plenty of substances that make them unsuitable for food-related usage.
While plant-based UV resins are indeed more eco-friendly than their standard counterparts due to part of the UV resin containing plant-based components, you should still treat them as you do with regular UV resins and apply the same safety precautions you would.
On the other hand, it’s also worth mentioning that the plant-based UV resins do come with an advantage that makes the 3D printing process better, which is the fact that their odor is a lot more tolerable than standard UV resin.
Being able to 3D print food-safe models is definitely something that is on most 3D printing enthusiasts’ lists, especially considering that there are a lot of creative food-related models that can be printed with a 3D printer for a more enjoyable kitchen experience.
To quickly recap, 3D printing UV resin is not food-safe whether it’s in its liquid or cured form and hence, unsuitable for food-related applications, as there will be unsafe substances on the surface of SLA 3D printed models that may make their way to the food upon contact and become a hazard.
While some UV resins can be plant-based or biocompatible, this does not mean that they are food-safe by any means either, and as a result, we highly recommend avoiding the usage of 3D printed parts for food-related purposes at all times.