Design of 3D printing equipment for food production


As with medical applications, 3D printing materials that come into contact with food or food production must meet strict standards. Food-safe 3D printing filaments include PLA, PP, co-polyester, PET, PET-G, HIPS, and nylon-6, as well as some brands of ABS, ASA and PEI.

The Motion Plastics company, igus, has added a laser sintering material for 3D printers to this list. iglide i6-BLUE powder complies with FDA and EU 10/2011 regulations. It is also easy to detect thanks to its blue coloring. The new material increases the safety of machines and plants in the food industry. iglide i6-BLUE has been designed to match the resistance and sliding properties of the iglide i6. The material has also been designed to be suitable for printing worm gears, cog gears, and snap-on connections in 3D.

Great design flexibility

Food and beverage producers have long used 3D printers as an alternative to conventional technologies, such as turning and milling. More and more, design engineers are asking for blue printing materials. The blue color is easy to see and thus increases food safety. If a 3D printed component breaks, the blue fragments of the product are easy to see and can be quickly identified with detectors.

The problem is that there are still very few blue print materials on the market that are robust and food grade compliant for the selective laser sintering manufacturing process. “To meet the high demand, we have now developed iglide i6-BLUE, a blue-colored printing powder compatible with all common laser sinter printers,” said Tom Krause, Additive Manufacturing Business Unit Manager. of igus. “The high performance blue plastic is easy to detect and is also food compliant. Unlike conventionally manufactured laser sintered components, iglide i6-BLUE complies with US Food and Drug Administration and EU 10/2011 regulations.”

Image courtesy of igusPM4922-1.jpg

Abrasion resistant

The material composition of iglide i6-BLUE is also designed to be strong and abrasion resistant with improved sliding properties. This makes the material suitable for 3D printing worm gears and cog gears for machinery in the food industry. The material is resistant to temperatures between -40°C and +80°C. “Tests in our in-house lab have also shown that iglide i6-BLUE 3D printed gears have a much longer life than milled polyoxymethylene (POM) gears and are at least nine times more abrasion resistant. than PA12 (SLS),” Krause said.

Due to the high elongation at break, the laser sinter printing material is also suitable for the additive manufacturing of snap connections. In addition, iglide i6-BLUE increases machine hygiene for the food industry. Microscopic solid lubricants are embedded in the laser sinter material and released automatically during motion, enabling low friction dry running. This eliminates the need for lubricants, which attract dust and dirt and can become a contamination hazard.

One week 3D printing service

Machine manufacturers who do not have their own 3D printers can use the igus 3D printing service without a minimum order quantity. They can submit a 3D model of their component. The laser sinter printer then produces it in layers from the new iglide i6-BLUE printing material – this works much faster than traditional manufacturing technologies, such as turning or milling. “For special components, prototypes and runs of up to 10,000 parts, we can reduce delivery time from several weeks to seven days,” Krause said.


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