Food-safe Lasercutting

I am interested in lasercutting some custom plateware. What lasercuttable materials would be washable/safe to eat from? Should I coat it in something?

I’m thinking about woods/plastics and intrigued by stainless steel.

Thanks for the help!

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Wood can be, under the right conditions. You’d probably want to cut/burn it, then seal it with something foodsafe and water-safe. (Source: Salad bowls and some utensils are often wooden.)

Now, that said: I’m not 100% sure that lasercuttable wood and tableware wood have an intersection… but I’m pretty close to that.

I would also think that some plastics fit the category as well, but I don’t know which ones.

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If you have a laser that can cut stainless steel, you have a nice expensive laser!

3128 has a Boss 100 Watt 2440, and we cannot cut metal.

We can (and have) engraved ceramic tile - which removes the hard ceramic surface (just to see if we could). But to make that food-safe, we’d have to re-coat the porous ceramic with…something. Never had to, so never tried.

Lots of people engrave hardwoods (such as cutting boards) and AFAIK, don’t worry about food safety.

Plastics… you’d have to research which ones are food-safe. I bet acrylic is fine (plastic wine glasses can be made of acrylic) but again - never looked it.

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Looking at a service like sendcutsend for stainless steel. At this point, if someone smart tells me with confidence that it’s safe to wash and eat from I’m gonna pull the trigger. Thanks for your help!

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Hi Eric! What do you think of stainless steel?

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McMaster has an option to narrow down plastics for “food contact”:

https://www.mcmaster.com/plastic-sheets/performance-properties~food-contact/

From looking at a few of the options, it seems the relevant standard is FDA CFR 177.xxxx, where the last bit is specific to families of plastics.

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shrug If it can be lasercut or laser-engraved, and more importantly it’s food-grade and can stay that way when the laser process is done…

That said, in my limited experience with laser-cut stainless steel, you ain’t gonna catch me eating off of it without some major post-processing. Deburring, mainly, with some serious polishing. Doable, sure. Just be aware that the cleanup will need to be done, either by you or by the cutting service.

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We laser cut stainless for food production machinery guarding. Post process and get the surface finish as smooth as you can to minimize pores and hard to clean spots where there could be microbe growth.

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What post-processing techniques are you using in this application?

The most obvious food safe material that should be laser cuttable is HDPE. It’s what plastic cutting boards for food are usually made of, so there’s no question that it’s food safe. You wouldn’t need to do anything to seal it and it should (as a thermoplastic) cut fairly well. You can also heat form it (at about 295*) and work it with standard woodworking tools for finishing purposes. It also comes in a variety of colors and even woodgrain patterns. Take a look at the U.S. Plastics page on polyethylene sheet to see what you can get.

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I was really hoping that you were gonna be laser cutting jello

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I was hoping marshmellows

Depends on the vendor. 0.5μm surface finish should be achievable on an industrial laser with almost no post processing. I usually just call for a surface finish and let them figure it out. Media blasting is undesirable unless you need it for stress relief. You pretty much have to hand finish to get food surface finish in the concave areas.

Biggest differences between my situation and yours is the size of piece I’m doing and total length of edges/surface area. I expect I have way more area, but I also have to budget to pay someone to spend a week post processing. Additionally, I expect my piece to be used 24/7, cleaned about once a week, and cleaning is via spraying and wiping down. I assume the piece will be left wet and I want to minimize where water can collect. If your piece is going through the dishwasher, I’d be less worried, you just need to take the people who overfill their dishwasher into account.

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I’m going to try to laser-cut pie crust. I assume it will not turn out well, but that’s not going to stop me from trying it…

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Are you going to cut your team logo in the middle of it? :wink:

Unlikely. In the beforetimes I won the World’s Greatest Grape Pie contest via the use of a fantastic recipe, good technique, and a 3D-printed Finger Lakes cookie cutter… This will be an attempt to up my crust-cutting game further, but the theme will likely be food and Finger Lakes rather than robots.

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Please post your results here for us to admire

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Thanks everyone for the help! I’m quite happy with how these turned out.

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Knives are made of 304 stainless.

I think pretty much any grade of stainless is good.

I have aluminum … tea… glasses that I made and use. I’m still alive

Annodizing can help too for aluminum

Edit: looks like I’m too late - Looks good though!

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