One of the main concerns with any 3D printer is the media. To a large extent, its characteristics govern the quality, appearance and robustness of a printed object, beyond the object's design itself. We've even seen edible media, such as sugar, used in homemade printer projects. However, sugar-based objects generally have poor characteristics, even though they might be good to eat!
So you might ask, "how safe are these non-edible objects?" It's a good question, since the high-quality, robustly made 3D printed objects typically are made using complex and proprietary chemical mixes from the manufacturer. Certainly you can't eat them - but could you put food or medicine in them? Would toxic bits leak from the object into your food or react badly in a chemical way with your medicine? Would the object melt or disaggregate if you tried to sterilize it and its contents?
Apparently so, because Stratasys has just announced the availability of "biocompatible" media, suitable for use with its FDM 400mc prototyping and production system. The new media will permit fabbing of food or pharmaceutical handling parts. According to their press release:
Stratasys expects common prototyping and production applications to include surgical instruments, food processing and packaging systems, and pharmaceutical handling, processing, and packaging applications. ABS-M30i is FDA compatible and meets ISO 10993 standards. The material may be sterilised using either the gamma radiation or ethylene oxide (EtO) method.
Now we can finally start work designing that soup bowl!