3D printers are often used in manufacturing and they are also becoming a more common sight in households because they make a great hobby. However, safety is of utmost importance, especially when it comes to pets.
In general, 3D printing is safe for pets, whether it’s dogs, cats, parrots, hamsters, or fish, as long as you take a number of precautions. The largest danger is the printer itself because pets don’t know to avoid the hot nozzle or print bed, and sometimes toxic fumes are emitted by the melted filament.
That being said, we’re going to discuss how we can keep our pets safe and learn which 3D printed items are safe for them.
3D Printer Safety
Printers get hot and pets are curious. That’s a dangerous combination that can lead to damage and a trip to the vet. Furthermore, the printer has moving components that can be particularly dangerous to small animals.
To keep your pets away from the printer, you should purchase or build an enclosure for it so nothing can interact with it. You can also place it on a high shelf or table as long as you have pets that can’t reach it. Other than that, you need to consider the fumes. Some filaments are toxic when melted, so make sure your printer operates in a well-ventilated space. Preferably, you shouldn’t allow any pets to enter the room where you’re printing.
They may be man’s best friend, but they’re curious animals that are immediately attracted by any noise. The 3D printer can harm them, so keep it out of their reach.
In addition, you should use food-safe materials only to print your models, especially if you’re making chew toys for your dog. Some dogs will try to lick, bite, and even eat some of your prints, so they should either be locked away or made out of a material that can be safely ingested.
Cat’s or notorious animals and if you have a 3D printer at home, it has to be enclosed. There’s no way around it if you’re a cat owner. And if you print bowls or other food containers for your beloved cat, make sure to regularly clean them, especially if the material you used isn’t 100% food safe.
However, if you don’t own a 3D printer but you’re purchasing 3D printed items for your cat, make sure they’re labeled as safe for pets. And if you’re particularly worried about your cat, ask the printing service if the item is safe specifically for cats.
Using a 3D printer to create all sorts of items for your aquarium is indeed tempting. After all, there are so many useful and decorative things you can make and you’ll be saving a lot of money. Besides, 3D printed items don’t usually decompose (depends on the material) and they’re quite resilient in an aquarium-type environment.
However, keep in mind that some materials can be toxic, especially when left in the water for long periods of time. The safest ones are ABS, PET-G, PLA, and nylon. You need to avoid anything made out of filament that dissolves when submerged in water, such as HIPS. You should also stick to non-colored filament because the coloration can leak over time into the aquarium, which might be bad for your pets.
When it comes to birds, the only serious safety concern is the heat produced by the printer. That’s why you should at least keep the printer in a separate room or in a special enclosure. As for 3D printed products, they are generally safe for birds.
3D Printed Toys
Printed accessories and toys are usually safe as long as the material used to make them isn’t toxic. Fortunately, most modern printers use non-toxic filaments and also have a filtering system to eliminate any contaminants from the air that might settle in the plastic.
PLA is probably the most commonly used material used to make food-safe items for pets. This type of material is made out of natural, organic compounds that are usually extracted from corn or potatoes. Therefore, any chew toys, bowls, balls, and aquarium accessories made out of PLA are safe and won’t harm your pets.
PLA and TPU for dogs
Both of these materials are highly recommended for making 3D printed toys for dogs, particularly chew toys. As mentioned PLA is safe, however, it’s not quite that durable. However, TPU is both safe and durable, and it can last for months before your dog needs a new one.
TPU is particularly safe because it doesn’t break into pieces. While PLA shouldn’t put your pet in danger, the material is more brittle and less resilient, especially when it comes to large dogs with serious biting force. Furthermore, bowls made out of PLA need to be thoroughly washed because bacteria can grow over time, especially if it’s not coated with resin.
3D printing isn’t just for industrial applications. You can use 3D printers yourself to create toys and accessories for your pets, or you can purchase ready-made 3D printed items. Just make sure they’re either labeled as food- or pet-safe. And if you make them on your own, use non-toxic materials only, like PLA. By taking all the precautions, your pets can enjoy the wonders of 3D printing and you’re going to spend a lot less money to keep them happy.