HDPE (3D Printing Material) – All You Need to Know

Its strength, low density, and non-toxicity make HDPE ideal for a wide range of 3D printed objects. Below are a few common application areas.

Objects that Float

Because HDPE’s density is low, it can be 3D printed into objects that retain their buoyancy even at large sizes. Add its ability to not absorb water, and you have a great excuse to make your own boat!

If you don’t want to go to the trouble of 3D printing a full-sized canoe, you can still take advantage of how well HDPE floats by using it to 3D print bath or pool toys – anything you want to take into the water without worrying that it will sink.

Complex Objects

Given that HDPE can be dissolved in limonene, you can use it as a filler material for geometrically complex objects. Immerse your entire print into a vat of limonene and save yourself the hassle of breaking off hard-to-reach supports.

Food Containers and Lids

Does anyone actually have a full set of matching Tupperware and lids? Make up for whatever storage solutions magically disappear by 3D printing your own. They’ll be non-toxic and won’t dissolve or absorb water, so they’re great for drink accessories like coasters and koozies too. Just be sure to hand wash them so they’ll stay as neat as when you first print them.

Medical Objects

This is more of an industrial use and best left to experts, but we want to mention it as an example of HDPE’s versatility as a 3D printing material because it’s changing the medical field for the better.

HDPE has proven to be a great material for medical containers for the same reasons it’s a good food container filament – it’s certified as non-toxic by the FDA and resistant to water absorption. But industrial medical supply makers have also been experimenting with making more invasive medical objects from it, such as replacements for lost pieces of bones. Its strength and lightness make it ideal for these kinds of medical needs, and its sustainability as a material drives down cost and opens up its accessibility. 

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