Which Materials should I use to 3D print PPE or Medical Components?

Article by Rod Mackay updated March 31, 2020

If you want to use your 3D printer to help in the fight against COVID-19 with the production of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), medical devices, or components for medical equipment, like a ventilator, then you need to pick the right type of material.

FDM Materials

Ideally you want to use FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) materials used on professional 3D printers, such as ULTEM® 1010 resin with a Stratasys 3D printer. FDM parts are strong, reliable, and can be sterilized with an approved process such as steam autoclave. A list of the recommended FDM materials is shown below.

WARNING: Medical devices are typically sterilized at 121°C which will distort or melt most common 3D printing materials, such as PLA, used with consumer/hobby 3D printers.

Listed in the tables below are FDM materials that used in production and can be sterilized, along with the tested sterilization process. We recommend PPSF/PPSU, ULTEM 9085 and ULTEM 1010.

What about PolyJet Material?

With regards to Polyjet for manufacturing, a few recommendations from our technical team:

  • Any parts being printed for ventilators, in a production capacity, should not be produced with Polyjet; best deployment of the technology in this circumstance is for rapid product development, iteration, and testing prior to production. Med-safe Polyjet parts do not retain biocompatibility over long term use.
  • Any parts coming in contact with skin or mucous membranes, or components contacting air/fluids that will contact these tissues, must be printed with MED610, and processed post-print following the protocol outlined in the “Printing Biocompatible Parts on PolyJet™ 3D Printers with MED610TM” documentation by Stratasys.
  • Non-medical Polyjet material are applicable for applications where the parts will not be in contact with human skin or mucous membranes, or in direct contact with air and fluids contacting these tissues:
    • Prototypes: PPE such as face shields, masks, not to be worn for human testing
    • Brackets, housings, anything not coming into direct contact with patients
    • Limited life or disposable medical device components: we recommend Digital ABS for these components as it will provide the best performance from a material characteristic standpoint. Please keep in mind that some individuals have a sensitivity to Polyjet resin, and therefore ensuring parts are thoroughly cleaned is important.
FDM MaterialABS-M30ABS-M30iABS-ESD7
BIOCOMPATIBILITYNot Tested (1)YesNot Tested (1)
ISO 10993-3: Genotoxicity
ISO 10993-4: Hemocompatibility
ISO 10993-5: Cytotoxicity 4Checked
ISO 10993-6: Implantation Effects
ISO 10993-10: Irritation & Sensitization 4Checked
ISO 10993-11: Systemic Toxicity 4Checked
USP Class VI: Systemic Injection Test
USP Class VI: Intracutaneous Test
USP Class VI: Implantation Test
STERLIZABILITYYesYesYes
EtOCheckedCheckedChecked
Hydrogen Peroxide Gas PlasmaCheckedCheckedChecked
Gamma RadiationCheckedCheckedChecked
Autoclave (steam)
Flash Autoclave

 

FDM MaterialPCPC-ABSPC-ISOPPSF/PPSUULTEM
9085
ULTEM
1010
BIOCOMPATIBILITYNot Tested (1)Not Tested (1)YesNot Tested (1)Not Tested (1)Yes
ISO 10993-3: Genotoxicity
ISO 10993-4: HemocompatibilityChecked(2)
ISO 10993-5: Cytotoxicity 4CheckedChecked(2)
ISO 10993-6: Implantation EffectsChecked(2)
ISO 10993-10: Irritation & Sensitization 4CheckedChecked(2)
ISO 10993-11: Systemic Toxicity 4CheckedChecked
USP Class VI: Systemic Injection TestChecked
USP Class VI: Intracutaneous TestChecked
USP Class VI: Implantation TestChecked
STERLIZABILITYYesYesYesYesYesYes
EtOCheckedCheckedCheckedCheckedCheckedChecked
Hydrogen Peroxide Gas PlasmaCheckedCheckedCheckedCheckedChecked
Gamma RadiationCheckedCheckedCheckedCheckedCheckedChecked
Autoclave (steam)CheckedCheckedChecked
Flash AutoclaveCheckedChecked
Notes:
  1. Material has not been tested for biocompatibility. Refer to ISO 10993 for appropriate test requirements for the intended application.
  2. Biocompatibility tests conducted by raw material manufacturer.

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Rod Mackay

Rod has been using 3D CAD software for over 25 years and has trained thousands of designers to use their CAD systems more effectively. Rod is the Javelin Webmaster and is based in Ottawa, ON., Canada.