Posted on Dec 05, 2014
Prototype Bottles, Forks, Forms, Fixtures and jigs for food production lines, we've produced them all and we are regularly asked to quote on parts to be used with food. Below we've provided a broad overview of the considerations when choosing which 3D Printing process, or even if 3D Printing is right for your project.
Where you need to create a non functional prototype of your design, but not actually use it in contact with food, then simply choose the best match for your design from our 3D Printing processes. For example we work with several packaging and bottling companies producing visuals of design candidates before they are signed off.
Other applications include initial production line set up where 3D Printing gives production line engineers an early full sized version of the design for setup and calibration.
Where the product design is to be tested with food, we have 'Food Safe' materials. The best material choice is currently PC ISO which is ISO10993 and USP Class VI approved*. PC ISO is a FDM material offered under our 'Strong & Durable' service and is usually 3D Printed in .254mm layers.
However due to the layering nature of 3D Printing, the printing process leaves microscopic voids where bacteria and food residue can reside. In a domestic environment this means that it's almost impossible to sterilize 3D Printed designs making them unsuitable for use with food.
In commercial Food Production environments, 3D Printed parts can be sterilised. PC ISO can be sterilized with gamma radiation or ethylene oxide (EtO) sterilization methods.
We'll shortly introduce a new material, ULTEM 1010, which has NSF 51 food-contact certification and can be sterilized via a steam auto clave.
The next option is to use Vac Casting to produce short runs of prototype designs. This removes the issues with layers and gives you access to a much wider range of materials. We offer Vac Casting as a service. Please call or email for pricing.
* It is the responsibility of the finished device designer & manufacturer to ensure the suitability of all parts and materials for the intended application.
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