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Medical & Food-Safe 3D Printing

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Medical & Food-Safe 3D Printing

We’re incredibly impressed with our Stratasys Fortus 900mc upgrade.
You may have read in our recent blog post how it’s improved our offering for the Automotive Industry, but did you know it also enables us to offer medical-grade and food-safe prints?

We can now offer prints mediums of PC-ISO and ABS-M30i – both these materials meet ISO sterilisation standards making them ideal for medical-grade and food-safe prints.

What does the upgrade mean for us? In the past, we’ve printed food-related items such as freezing tray prototypes in very specific shapes. The upgrade means we can now print the end-use tray or container, plate, cup, utensil or indeed any item that would come in repeated direct contact with food.

What does food-safe actually mean? Well, it’s not just that the print medium (a filament in the case of our Fortus 900mc FDM printer) has been certified and won’t pass on harmful chemicals, the upgrade also means we can be sure that the extruder nozzle through which the filament passes does not contain lead or any other contaminant. In the case of the actual 3D prints themselves, food-safe would also mean printing in such a way as to eradicate the small spaces or cracks where bacteria could multiply.

Food-safe 3D printing with biocompatible PC-ISO

Much of the same criteria apply to medical-grade prints. What 3D printing offers here though is the benefit of manufacturing patient-specific device,s such as prosthetics, that fit perfectly to a person’s anatomy. Hong Kong Polytechnic University is even using 3D printing to improve eye orbital implant surgery. You can read more about this on the Stratasys blog, here. The ability to print items with complex internal structures is also of benefit to medical applications. Although not a medical-grade print run, one of our first projects was, in fact, of some tiny tissue samples. These provided surgeons with a precise visual guide as to the size of sample needed to pass on for testing. Interestingly, just this week, it was announced in Med-Tech Innovation News that orthosis specialist, Crispin Orthotics, has invested in an HP 4200 Multi Jet Fusion printer for the manufacture of orthotic devices. We also have this printer in our Lab – we’ll be keeping an eye on developments!

3D printing helps visualize a patient’s missing orbital floor (left) versus original shape before impact (right).

Ensuring the right material is used for whatever object is being printed is, of course, the best place to start. Here’s what we offer in more detail:

PC-ISO (polycarbonate-ISO), an industrial thermoplastic. In its raw state, it’s biocompatible (ISO 10993 USP Class VI) and can be gamma or EtO sterilised. It’s a strong, heat resistant engineering plastic, commonly used in food and drug packaging and medical device manufacturing because of its strength and medical compatibility. When combined with our Fortus 900 printer, PC-ISO creates parts with breakaway support material that can be used for conceptual modelling and functional prototyping as well as end-use parts.

High-strength ABS-M30i is also well suited for the medical, pharmaceutical and food packaging industries. Parts manufactured with ABS-M30i material are biocompatible (also to ISO 10993 USP Class VI) and, like the PC-ISO, can be gamma or EtO sterilised. The FDM soluble support material makes for an efficient and hands-free process that results in biocompatible real parts with excellent mechanical properties. Parts are well suited for conceptual modelling, functional prototyping, manufacturing tools and end-use-parts.

Got a project we can help with? Please get in touch.