Finding the perfect toy for your pet can often feel challenging, even in today’s oversaturated market. For this reason, many 3D printer owners have jumped at the opportunity of designing a customized alternative using their knowledge regarding their pets’ textural and visual preferences. But, while there’s no doubt that a 3D printed toy would make any pet wiggle their tail in excitement, is this practice safe?
3D printed dog or cat toys are usually safe to use, provided they’re made using a non-toxic printing material. For example, PLA would be an excellent choice. Additionally, pet owners would need to keep an eye on their pets during playtime to ensure they don’t swallow any components.
In the following sections, I’ll dive more into the topic of safely 3D printing pet toys. So, keep reading to find out how to take the necessary precautions to make your design pet-friendly. Then, at the end of this article, I’ll take you through a step-by-step guide on how to 3D print the perfect toy for your dog or cat.
How To Make Sure 3D Printed Pet Toys Are Safe To Use
The most important factor to consider when choosing any pet toy is its safety. Any item that your dog or cat interacts with for extended periods needs to be toxin-free, as this is the only way to optimize your companion’s life quality and longevity.
Luckily, 3D printing your pet’s favorite toy doesn’t have to compromise their health. As long as you take some necessary precautionary measures, you’ll be able to provide your dog (or cat) with the ultimate toy.
Use Non-Toxic Filament
First and foremost, you’ll want to ensure you’re always using a non-toxic filament for your design.
The good news is that pet-friendly 3D printer materials are widely accessible and pretty inexpensive compared to other alternatives. So as long as you make an effort to look for the right option, there shouldn’t be a reason why you can’t obtain it.
However, you might want to keep your companion out of the room where the 3D printer operates. Even if you use the least toxic material, the equipment still releases potentially harmful fumes that could compromise your pet’s health.
So, even if the area is well-ventilated, it’s always good to err on the side of safety and keep your dogs and cats in other rooms while the printer is on.
Monitor Your Pets While They Play
As with any other toy, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your pet during playtime in case they break or swallow a component. As you can imagine, although some types of 3D printing material are safe to play with, they can cause significant damage when ingested.
When plastic particles get caught in your dog’s digestive tract, they could lead to a plethora of health problems, including problems with blood flow and tissue damage.
However, as mentioned, this could be the case with many store-bought alternatives as well; therefore, as long as you pay close attention to your pet, this shouldn’t deter you from 3D printing a toy for them.
Use PLA or TPU for 3D Printed Pet Toys
The material you use makes all the difference between a safe and an unsafe toy, which is why you should always be careful during the filament selection process.
- PLA is widely known as the least toxic 3D printing filament. This is because the material itself is biodegradable, making it an excellent, toxin-free alternative to use when working with high temperatures.
- TPU is a less ideal but still acceptable alternative. The material is non-toxic, but it’s still a good idea not to let your pet chew a TPU-based toy for extended periods. Additionally, even though the material can be safe, its fumes can be highly toxic. Therefore, if this is your filament of choice, make sure to keep your pets out of the printing room throughout the printing process.
Are PLA Fumes Toxic to Pets?
By now, you know that PLA is a biodegradable material that in itself doesn’t pose any health concerns for your pet. However, even the safest, most natural materials can release some highly toxic fumes when treated with extreme heat.
Therefore, if you plan on keeping your pet with you while printing their new favorite toy, you’ll first need to make sure that the vapors found in the surrounding air aren’t a safety hazard.
PLA fumes aren’t toxic to pets due to the fact that the filament is made out of natural components. Therefore, it doesn’t pose any safety hazards to you or your pets when burned as long as the area is well-ventilated.
However, even though the fumes themselves aren’t toxic, I still wouldn’t recommend keeping your companion in the room with you while the 3D printer is operating. The equipment can get extremely hot while it’s printing, and a sudden move or jump could severely injure your dog or cat.
Additionally, your pet isn’t the only one at risk in a situation like this. A wrong move could also damage your (probably costly) 3D printer, compromising its quality and longevity.
However, if you have no choice but to keep your dog or cat with you, it’s essential to exclusively use PLA filament as your material of choice and keep your pet in some type of enclosure.
Additionally, it’s crucial to keep the area well-ventilated constantly; otherwise, the fumes could turn dangerous much quicker than you’d think.
How To 3D Print a Pet Toy
Now that you know 3D printing a pet toy is safe and doable, you might wonder what’s the best way to design one for your own dog or cat.
I’d start by choosing your favorite, high-quality PLA filament. By doing so, you’ll ensure the rest of the process will go as smoothly as possible.
Here’s what you’ll want to do next:
- Slice your design.
- Save your design on your SD card.
- Install your choice of PLA filament.
- Start your print.
For designs, you can check sites like thingiverse.com.
3D printed dog and cat toys are safe to use if you choose the right printing materials. PLA is usually the best-suited filament for this purpose due to its non-toxic properties.
However, even if some 3D printed designs are safe for pets to play with, it’s usually best to keep any dogs or cats outside the printing room while the equipment is on, as otherwise, you’d have to deal with a wide range of possible hazards.