The Toxicity of TPU in 3D Printing: Separating Fact from Fiction

What is TPU?

Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is a type of plastic that has become increasingly popular in the 3D printing community due to its flexibility and durability. It is often used to create phone cases, toys, and even footwear. TPU is a versatile material that can be printed on most 3D printers. However, there has been some concern about the potential toxicity of TPU in 3D printing.

The Safety of TPU in 3D Printing

There is a misconception that TPU is toxic or dangerous to use in 3D printing. However, this is not entirely true. TPU is generally safe to use, but it is important to take certain precautions when working with it. TPU is not known to contain any harmful chemicals, and it is safe to handle with bare hands. TPU is also considered safe when used for food contact.

The Potential Hazards of TPU

Key takeaway: While TPU is generally safe to use in 3D printing, it is important to take certain precautions to avoid potential hazards such as fumes and skin irritation. Proper ventilation, protective gear, and storage are necessary to maintain the safety of the material. Additionally, considering alternatives such as PLA may be a good option for those concerned about TPU’s potential toxicity.


The main concern surrounding TPU is the potential for harmful fumes to be released during the printing process. While TPU does not contain any toxic chemicals, it can release fumes when heated to high temperatures. These fumes can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat, and can also cause headaches and dizziness. It is important to use TPU in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling these fumes.

Skin Irritation

Another potential hazard of TPU is skin irritation. While TPU is generally safe to handle, prolonged exposure to the material can cause skin irritation. It is important to wear gloves when handling TPU to avoid any skin irritation.

How to Safely Use TPU in 3D Printing

Proper Ventilation

To avoid inhaling any potentially harmful fumes, it is important to use TPU in a well-ventilated area. This can be achieved by using a 3D printer with an enclosed printing area and a built-in ventilation system. If your printer does not have a ventilation system, make sure to open a window or use a fan to circulate the air in the room.

Protective Gear

When handling TPU, it is important to wear protective gear such as gloves and safety glasses. This will help protect your skin and eyes from any potential hazards.

Proper Storage

To avoid any potential hazards, it is important to store TPU in a cool, dry place. TPU can absorb moisture, which can affect its properties and cause it to degrade. Store TPU in an airtight container to prevent any moisture from getting in.

The fumes that are released during the printing process can be harmful if inhaled. TPU can release fumes when it is heated to high temperatures, which can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat, as well as headaches and dizziness.


TPU can degrade over time if it is not stored properly. Moisture can cause TPU to break down, which can affect its properties and make it less effective. It is important to store TPU in a cool, dry place to avoid any degradation.

Consider Alternatives

If you are concerned about the potential hazards of TPU, there are alternatives that you can consider. For example, PLA is a popular 3D printing material that is known for its safety and ease of use. While it may not have the same flexibility as TPU, it is a safe and effective material for creating a wide variety of objects.

FAQs for the topic: Is TPU toxic for 3D printing?

What is TPU?

TPU stands for thermoplastic polyurethane, which is a versatile plastic that can be used in various applications. It is widely used for 3D printing due to its flexibility, durability, and resistance to oils and chemicals. It is commonly used to print phone cases, toys, and other similar items.

Is TPU toxic for 3D printing?

No, TPU is not considered toxic for 3D printing. It is one of the safest materials for 3D printing because it does not contain any harmful chemicals, and it is BPA-free. TPU is a highly regulated material and is frequently used in food packaging, medical devices, and other applications that require safety standards.

Are there any risks associated with TPU for 3D printing?

While TPU is considered one of the safest materials for 3D printing, there are still some risks to consider. Because it is a flexible material, it can be harder to work with than other, more rigid materials. Also, when TPU is melted during the 3D printing process, it can release potentially harmful fumes. To minimize any risks, it is important to work in a well-ventilated area and to practice safe 3D printing practices.

How can I ensure that I’m using TPU safely for 3D printing?

To use TPU safely for 3D printing, it is important to pay attention to the temperature settings and the printing speed. TPU requires lower temperatures and slower speeds than other materials, so make sure to adjust your printer’s settings accordingly. Additionally, be sure to use a printer that is specifically designed for TPU, as some printers may not be compatible with this type of material.

What are some popular TPU brands for 3D printing?

There are many popular brands of TPU for 3D printing, including SainSmart, NinjaTek, and Filaflex. It is important to choose a reputable brand that has been tested and approved for 3D printing to ensure the safety and quality of your prints.