Are 3D printed objects aquarium safe? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-26-2017, 09:03 AM Thread Starter
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Are 3D printed objects aquarium safe?

This may be kind of a futuristic question ahead of its time but are 3D printed objects aquarium safe?

I'm not sure if anyone here has a 3D printer or might know the answer?

Thanks.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-26-2017, 10:10 AM
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What kind of material are you using?

Generally, I would consider PLA and ABS to be safe, but the larger problem would be that printed parts would tend to float due to non-100% infill

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 07:10 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Darkblade48 View Post
What kind of material are you using?

Generally, I would consider PLA and ABS to be safe, but the larger problem would be that printed parts would tend to float due to non-100% infill
I am still in the process of putting the 3D printer together. It came in like a thousand pieces. I have both the PLA and ABS.

My understanding is that the ABS can deteriorate and the PLA is the more durable plastic but harder to print with.

My fish feeder for my the betta throws food all over the lid and the floor. Only like 10% of the food actually goes in the tank.

I purchased a small funnel on ebay and I was thinking of printed a stand for it.

Then moving on to bigger and more complex projects.

Do you have a 3D printer?
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Merriallynchian View Post
My understanding is that the ABS can deteriorate and the PLA is the more durable plastic but harder to print with.
Deterioration of both materials is probably on the order of years, so I would not worry too much about that. PLA is much easier to print, compared to ABS.

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Do you have a 3D printer?
I do; it's a homebuilt variant of the Prusa i3.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 09:46 AM
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I own a 3D printer. PLA is a organic plastic and is food safe, I believe it's made from corn. PETG I have used several times myself, no issues. ABS shouldn't not pose much of a issue, but this is probably the most toxic plastic of the "standards" in 3D printers. Also can be a pain in the butt to print with, warps with the slightest breeze/temperature difference. Derivative from crude oil. Smells nasty when printing, and fumes are somewhat toxic. But I use PETG instead, it's super though more so than ABS, prints more like PLA and doesn't smell. ABS is less brittle (bends before breaking) and can tolerate higher heat though.

PLA will "rot" away, but how long it last in water, I'm not sure. Most likely years. As for the floating part, either use 100% infill or 0% infill, with 0% just leave two small unnoticeable holes in the print and it will fill with water.

PS: ABS can be acetone smoothed to get parts 100% watertight, great for hose connections.

Printer: Heavily modified/upgraded Rigibot.

Here's a little yoda bust printed at 0.14mm layer height (can go as low as 0.05mm, but print time is atrocious), 0% infill in Green PETG

http://imgur.com/a/N7Wea


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Last edited by Malakian; 04-27-2017 at 10:02 AM. Reason: Added info
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 09:56 AM
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PLA has a lower melting point, something to consider if you plan on using your pieces close to your lights (if your lights get hot the PLA will be more likely to deform). Also if you are doing dual extrusion I would not use PVA, because PVA is water soluble. (I assume you already knew that but hey, better safe than sorry)

Some details on PLA vs ABS
glass transition temp: 65C 105C
Slumping Temperature: 75C 115C (this is the important one)
Melting Temp: 160-190C 210-240C (printing temp is usually higher than this so the material is less viscous)


Other things ABS is more flexible than PLA which means it is harder to break but also well.... bends under weight. ABS also sticks to itself better than PLA does (better layer bonding). But PLA is typically easier to print, the colder temps and less flexibility also make it expand/contract less due to heat which reduces warping. Overall, I would recommend ABS if you have experience with it and are comfortable, both will degrade, PLA will probably degrade faster seeing as it is actually biodegradable(made from corn starch), though both absorb water over time and will be damaged by UV light. Also for me heat would be the major thing to consider, but if you aren't using this by your heater (as a clamp for your heater) or by your lights, then it probably won't matter which material you use.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 10:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vohlk View Post
PLA has a lower melting point, something to consider if you plan on using your pieces close to your lights (if your lights get hot the PLA will be more likely to deform). Also if you are doing dual extrusion I would not use PVA, because PVA is water soluble. (I assume you already knew that but hey, better safe than sorry)

Some details on PLA vs ABS
glass transition temp: 65C 105C
Slumping Temperature: 75C 115C (this is the important one)
Melting Temp: 160-190C 210-240C (printing temp is usually higher than this so the material is less viscous)


Other things ABS is more flexible than PLA which means it is harder to break but also well.... bends under weight. ABS also sticks to itself better than PLA does (better layer bonding). But PLA is typically easier to print, the colder temps and less flexibility also make it expand/contract less due to heat which reduces warping. Overall, I would recommend ABS if you have experience with it and are comfortable, both will degrade, PLA will probably degrade faster seeing as it is actually biodegradable(made from corn starch), though both absorb water over time and will be damaged by UV light. Also for me heat would be the major thing to consider, but if you aren't using this by your heater (as a clamp for your heater) or by your lights, then it probably won't matter which material you use.
You can actually "temper" PLA. Some videos of it on youtube, and after the tempering it's even more heat resistance than ABS and becomes a lot tougher. Little fun fact, never tried it myself though. Had no use for it yet.

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Originally Posted by Merriallynchian View Post
I am still in the process of putting the 3D printer together. It came in like a thousand pieces. I have both the PLA and ABS.

My understanding is that the ABS can deteriorate and the PLA is the more durable plastic but harder to print with.

My fish feeder for my the betta throws food all over the lid and the floor. Only like 10% of the food actually goes in the tank.

I purchased a small funnel on ebay and I was thinking of printed a stand for it.

Then moving on to bigger and more complex projects.

Do you have a 3D printer?
Other way around, ABS will last forever (if its not in high UV light conditions), harder to print with IF you don't have a enclosure. PLA will "rot" over time as it is biodegradable.


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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 10:39 AM
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You can actually "temper" PLA. Some videos of it on youtube, and after the tempering it's even more heat resistance than ABS and becomes a lot tougher. Little fun fact, never tried it myself though. Had no use for it yet.
Do you have any links, tried ye ole' google and it didn't turn up many results on tempering PLA, there is HPLA but that is not a commonly used material. I know some people warm up their PLA structures to make them airtight or to strengthen it by getting better bonds between layers but I was unaware that this changed its thermal properties.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 10:47 AM
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Do you have any links, tried ye ole' google and it didn't turn up many results on tempering PLA, there is HPLA but that is not a commonly used material. I know some people warm up their PLA structures to make them airtight or to strengthen it by getting better bonds between layers but I was unaware that this changed its thermal properties.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZX8eHC7fws


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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-27-2018, 11:39 PM
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EDIT>> Sorry for necroing this thread.. when I was searching and found it the 4/27 made me think it was today.

Great topic.. I also got a "kit" (Tevo Tarantula) and had fun the couple of days it took to put it together.

I agree on PLA, Corn Starch seems the least worrisome of the materials or PETG (PET is what Pop\Soda bottles are made from). Also I would for sure cure them. 3d printed parts can have everything from micro-bubbles to gaps in the way layers light up. Most of the time nothing you can see, but over time water would seep in and I would think be a bad thing.

I printed a PLA knob for my shower that I designed and it's still in there and it's been a good 7-8 months maybe more with no sign of degrading. I also have PETG louvers on my dryer vent that have been outside most of the winter with rain, snow, heat and fumes from gas dryer and that looks like the day I put them on.

I still have not put anything I have printed into the tank but speaking of things floating. if you print with your infill set certain ways with most slicers you can add weight to things if you are careful. I have a few items about 1/3 full of BBs to give them some weight. I think lead would be better than BBs being they are copper coated, in case you have shrimpers or snails.

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Last edited by Dropline; 04-28-2018 at 01:33 AM. Reason: realized age of thread
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-28-2018, 12:18 AM
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Plastic isn't heavy... but you could print in steel, tin, aluminum, porcelain and sandstone.


All would be okay for aquarium.
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