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3D printing Food: Is it really possible?

Posted by Aaron Chen on

3d popcorn

3D printing food is a way of preparing any meal or snack in an automated additive way. It could enable chefs, bakers, etc. to reinvent culinary ways on different levels from texture, shape and artistic concept.

This innovative way of preparing food can also help chefs, professional confectioners and cake decorators to create nutritious and sustainable meals. In some cases, creating meals from 3D printer is easier than producing them by hand.

To learn more about this new technology, here is a blog post about 3D printing food. Read on below.

How does it work?

The concept of 3D printing food is the same as the traditional 3D printing method. However, instead of melted plastic, food material is used as the printing medium. A 3D printer heats up edible ingredients before printing them on the build plate layer by layer.

Another method of 3D food printing is similar to SLS 3D printing. In this option, it uses ingredients in the form of dry powder that is solidified in the 3D food printer.

Ingredients used for 3D printing food

Here are some of the ingredients that are commonly used for making new kinds of 3D printed meals and snacks.

3D printing with liquid chocolate

Chocolate ingredient is ideal for 3D printing because of its natural physical properties. Furthermore, it is easy to customised snacks made of chocolate because it melts easily and solidifies as soon as it cools down.

However, 3D printers for chocolates are relatively expensive. Some of them are designed for professional confectioners and cake decorators who want to create designs and toppers using chocolate.

3D printing with sugar

Apart from chocolate, sugar is also a compatible ingredient for 3D printing. Sugar is a malleable material and can take various forms and colours. It is also used to create candies and snacks with creative 3D designs and shapes.

To create 3D printed snacks and decorations from sugar, a thin layer of powdered sugar crystals is spreaded on the build platform. Then, food colours, flavours and water are sprayed on the sugar to moisten it and turn it into a solid layer. This method is repeated until an object is built.

3D printing with pureed food

There are also 3D printers that use pureed food or thick liquids as a printing medium. These 3D meals often retain more nutrition than the traditional pureed food. It can also be fortified with additional vitamins and minerals. This allows people with poor appetite to consume more nutrients to support their recovery and well-being.

Examples of foods that are used include purred vegetables, tomato and cheese sauces, fillings made from well-ground meats and even liquid doughs.

What are the benefits of 3D printing food

With 3D printing food, healthy and good meals can be produced quickly. It can also convert alternative ingredients such as proteins from algae, insects or beet leaves into delicious meals.

Like traditional 3D printers, 3D food printers follow specific digital instructions as it prints. Thus, it is also capable of making food containing the appropriate percentage of nutrients required for a particular group of people (e.g. according to gender, lifestyles or medical condition). 

Apart from that, it is used for food customization to cater to individual needs and preferences. For instance, a healthy meal is 3D printed into interesting shapes and sizes for kids for easy consumption. A wide variety of textures, designs and decorations can also be made.

This technology also offers new possibility in industries such as space travel. 3D printing food has been used in space travel to feed a team of astronauts who are in longer missions.

What are the drawbacks of 3D printing food

Most specialised 3D food printers are relatively expensive. Although it is possible to mount any 3D printing food nozzle on a regular 3D printer, results may not be satisfactory. Aside from that, you also have to make sure that every aspect of the 3D food printer is sanitised and food-safe.

Moreover, it may take a lot of time to 3D print a whole meal in a restaurant. Thus, it is still too slow for mass production.

Conclusion

Currently, 3D printing food is still a new and emerging technology. In the future, it may be a key to personalising nutritious foods for those people with medical conditions and deficiencies. With this technology, the possibilities are endless to optimise the health and well-being of the consumers.

For those who are interested in 3D printing, it is beneficial to start an 3D printing project with the help of the right people. You can ask a local 3D printing service company to assist you with your 3D printing requirement. They can also provide other 3D printing-related services such as 3D design and modelling, custom 3D printing, mechanical prototyping and many more.

Topics: 3d printing

   
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