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Is polycaprolactone food safe? Answered

Polycaprolactone ( aka "Friendly Plastic" aka "Instamorph" ) is a very interesting material with lots of diy potential.  I wonder, since Wikipedia mentions it is used in surgical implants, does that mean also that it is food safe?

And If it is food safe, is it also aquarium safe?

Thanks for any insights



Best Answer 6 years ago

          It's great for bone scaffolds, long term time-release of medicines/hormones and for other internal medical uses because (in addition to it's strength) it's non-toxic will slowly break down and be harmlessly absorbed by the body.

          That being said, I'm confident that the PCL which you have is not medical-grade and possibly not recommended for food use either (but that's just a guess).  It's likely that the stuff actually used in surgical implants is produced in a significantly different environment and has very different standards than the PCL produced for non-medical purposes.  I can't remember the numbers, but I remember seeing some prices for surgical use polycaprolactone which were somewhere in the realm of thousands of times the cost of retail PCL.  I'm sure the prices represent liability and other costs beyond just increased manufacturing costs, but the product is definitely intended to be more "perfect" and controlled.  My point is that pure PCL is food safe but the standard PCL us hackers use will deviate away from pure (although not necessarily towards dangerous).

          As for being food safe I don't know.  I would have to be a biologist / chemist / researcher / lawyer to give a correct and definitive answer which isn't partially just a guess.  Plus the company, factory, product, and many other variables are all possibly relevant.  Basically the manufacturer is the only source of info on that, and liability and science both play a factor in that answer.  

         As for the aquarium safety, same answer.  Safety aside, one thing to consider is that under the right conditions the plastic will biodegrade.  In most environments this is a very long term process, many factors including plastic thickness can have a significant effect on the amount of time a part will remain functional.  So in short, you may not want to build a big glass tank using the thinnest PCL seams you can make.  Then fill it with hundreds of pounds of water, and yet the years pass without checking to see how the seams are doing.


Answer 6 years ago

awesome answer, thank you!

I was thinking of using it as part of a water filter idea and also wondering about constructing decorative playthings for fish out of it.

Thank you


6 years ago

Yes, the right grades would be food safe. There are potentially some contaminants in the cheaper grades.