Along with being a sustainable, biocompatible and compostable material, the trait that makes PLA so widely used in 3D printing is its high versatility and that is nothing new. On the downside, PLA is generally brittle and not very impact resistant. Italian filament producer KeyTech has set out to improve PLA, making it comparable to ABS in terms of heat and impact resistance and even superior in terms of flexural strength (as per the data sheet below). To top it all of the new PLA LAYER has been certified for food consumption, the first PLA filament to have done so.
KeyTech’s founder Stefano Corinaldesi is very confident about the performances that can be achieved by their PLA LAYER material. So much so that he sent in a video which shows how, after having been exposed to the open air for 60 days, the filament still does not break even when being twisted and pulled. The company has extensive experience working with biodegradable materials and also partners with Stick&Filament to produce the PolyKey PLA HS and PolyKey PLA HS NX sticks of filament highly resistant PLA and minerals blend of filament.
It does not end here because the company figured it might as well go the extra mile and be the first to get its PLA material actually certified as food safe. All PLA, of course, is biocompatible and thus can be theoretically used for food consumption. However many times in the PLA blend there are foreign agents and colorants that alter the material’s properties.
“The PLA LAYER has a 1.75 mm diameter and comes in a natural color. It can be extruded at temperatures between 201° and 220° C,” Stefano told me. “We are the first to have had our PLA certified by professional laboratories Argo Group and, since we produce our own filament, we can also guarantee on the quality of the colors in the future.”
Just because you can use it for food it does not necessarily mean you should. Although you might be able to assure the food compliance of the materials your nozzle is made of, 3D printed PLA is always bound to have microscopic holes that food can get stuck in and build bacteria. Any food product created should be considered as disposable. Still, food safety is an important feature that testifies as to the high quality of KeyTech’s research. If not as a fork, you can always use it as a food-safe hammer.