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I'm planning on 3d printing an aeroponics enclosure out of ABS. Obviously there will be a high amount of water circulation involved.

Is ABS a safe plastic to use? Will chemicals leach into the soil? Have any studies been done here? I'm planning on growing and eating vegetables, so I don't want to be ingesting horrible chemicals.

Thanks!

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    can you post a diagram of what the whole system looks like? – kevinsky Aug 9 '15 at 10:52
  • Is there a reason against using PLA to print the system? To make sure, I searched for information regarding the food safety of both plastics since food safe ones shouldn't leach anything dangerous into the soil. A quick search turned up no definite answer on ABS, but with PLA you should be on the safe side. Decomposition would result in lactic acid which isn't toxic. (The safest bet would be filament specifically labeled as food safe, though that might be overkill.) – anderas Aug 10 '15 at 8:41
  • This might get better results over in Sustainability. – That Idiot Aug 12 '15 at 14:44
  • There is a reason to use ABS. I have an extruder which allows me to make my own ABS filament, whereas the extruder doesn't work for PLA. This provides me with a 10x cost savings, which is the difference between the project working and not working. – cat pants Aug 27 '15 at 20:04
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ABS is a very stable plastic. It is used in all kinds of things from medical devices (which is how I know of its properties) to car seats and more. Unless you plan to have your containers sitting on top of a flame, you have very little to worry about.

ABS can be completely recycled as well. It is grouped in #7.

Have there been studies done? Yes, but not specifically the way you would like them. However, if you go through the various papers and reports you will find that, unless you want to plant a coastal redwood tree and worry about it absorbing some of the materials 600 years from now, you are in good shape.

I hope this addresses your question.

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    I wasn't thinking about keeping my plants over a burner, but since my parts are all 3d printed, that means that the plastic has been heated up to around 240 C and then cooled. I'm sure injection molded pots have their plastic heated as well, but to that high of a temp? I wish there was some way I could test this myself. I'll probably just roll with it but it would be nice to be able to collect data. Thanks! – cat pants Aug 28 '15 at 0:00
  • ABS in regular injection molding is also first melted and re-flown. The melt temperature for the polymer, which in this case is 240 C has to be achieved first. Later, the material is molded at a lower temperature. But as you can see, both times, the melt temperatures HAVE to be reached. And nothing stops you from experimenting rigorously and thoroughly, but again, I bet you wont have problems. Here is a material I work with very closely. Look at the properties: ineos.com/Show-document/… – Srihari Yamanoor Sep 9 '15 at 1:28

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