There are many filaments on the market but not many of them are FDA approved for food safety. Most filament manufacturers on the market do not put an explicit focus on food safety and do not pursue FDA approval simply because it is not necessary.
3D prints in general have a risk when used with food due to their porous nature. Every small gap between layers is a space where food can get trapped and cause bacteria to grow.
Early in my 3D printing career (whatever you want to call it), I printed a hamburger press out of PLA for my father. I forgot to mention to him that PLA is not dishwasher safe and it deformed beyond recognition after one wash.
I didn’t really know anything about food-safe filaments at the time so I just printed it out of the normal run-of-the-mill PLA and it was honestly pretty lucky that it melted so that he didn’t try to use it again.
PLA – Extrudr NX1 & NX2 – FDA Approved
Extrudr’s PLA NX1 and its matte finish counterpart NX2 come in many colors and also comes in 1.75 and 2.85 variants.
PLA is the bread and butter of 3D printing so having a food-safe and FDA-approved filament that can be printed on an Ender 3 is extremely useful.
PLA is not dishwasher safe so you will have to either hand wash whatever you print with hot and soapy water or you will need to discard your print after use.
Filaments.ca – Food-Safe PLA
I could not find any indication that Filaments.ca is FDA approved but it is made with clean manufacturing procedures and is guaranteed to be free of pathogens and contamentants so it should be safe for most food applications.
Like most PLA’s Filaments.ca Food Safe PLA will print on a stock Ender 3 and does not require an all metal Hot End.
I think there is a lot to be said about good clean manufacturing procedures and I would recommend this product as a food safe product but there is nothing better than a real FDA approval.
GreenTec Pro – Extrudr GreenTec Pro – FDA Approved
GreenTec pro is made from renewable raw materials and is similar to a PLA plus. GreenTec pro is a biodegradable material per the DIN EN ISO 14855 standard and has a higher heat resistance than NX1 and NX2.
Depending on your dishwasher’s max temperature GreenTec Pro can potentially run through a dishwashing cycle without melting or warping.
GreenTec Pro will easily print on an Ender 3 without any modifications.
CPE – Fillamentum HG100 – FDA Approved
Fillamentum’s HG100 CPE is a copolyester that is engineered to compete with PETG and has higher temperature resistance as well as hardness and tensile strength. The downside to HG100 is that it can not be printed on a stock Ender 3 and will require an upgraded Hot End.
Fillamentums HG100 is BPA free and has high chemical resistance against acids, alcohols and hydrocarbon.
If you need help installing a Micro-Swiss all metal hot end check out this guide.
Nylon – Taulman Nylon 680 – FDA Approved
Taulman’s Nylon 680 is the only nylon on the marked that is food grade and FDA approved. This is probably the highest heat resistant and impact resistant material on the marked that is food grade and will certainly stand the test of any dishwasher.
In order to print Taulman Nylon 680 on an Ender 3 you will need an all metal hot end as well as Capricorn bowden tubes to achieve the temperatures required on the hot end.
Taulmans Nylon 680 is available in a semi translucent natural color as well as black (super dark blu). The colors are pretty limited but that is just due to the natural nature of the filament to make it FDA approved.
Is PLA Food Safe? Is PLA FDA approved.
In general, standard PLA is not food safe or FDA approved and should not be used for food storage, dishes, or drinkware. PLA is not dishwasher safe and when exposed to standard dishwasher temperatures will melt.
Most PLA on the market is not dishwasher safe due to its low vicat softening temperature which is essentially the temperature that PLA will become soft and plyable. Most dishwashers reach around 140(°F) which is just above the vicat softening temperature of PLA.
Is PETG FDA Approved? Is PETG Food Safe?
PETG is not advertised as food safe or FDA approved but PETG is not bidegradable and will not degrade or produce bacteria. PETG is generally considered a food safe material and in most cases is a suitable material for handling food.
PETG has great heat resistance properties and can generally handle the temperatures of a dishwasher. Due to the ability to sanitize PETG and the nature of PETG to not produce bacteria makes it generally recognized as food safe.
Are There Any Food-Grade Flexible Filaments?
There are many food safe and FDA compliant flexible filaments available. Extrudr TPU98A and TPU58D are both FDA compliant but not FDA approved. TPU is generally not dishwasher safe even if it is FDA compliant.
For additional information on food safe flexible filament check out extrudr’s website for their safely data sheets.
There are many options when printing for food applications. Most PLA’s and ABS should not be used for food but materials like PETG and CPE are generally considered safe for food applications.
This article is meant to be informational and it is always the responsibility of the user to make decisions for themselves regarding the safety of a material and determine whether it is right for their print.