3d printers not only make new designs with plastic, concrete, metal, and wood possible. There are also whole new doors open for food products. For example, food that is healthier and more delicious or tailored to individual needs. Wageningen University & Research (WUR) works on such innovative food applications.
Where an ordinary printer is just a single layer of ink, a 3d printer builds up layering, using a computer design, without the use of molds or intermediate steps.
Food Safe 3D Printing Technology
The invention of the technique has been around thirty years ago. But only in recent years does the number of applications start to take a flight. Last year a first bicycle bridge of concrete came out of the printer and in 2019 in Meerhoven 3d-printed houses. But there are also top chefs who make artworks of pasta – thanks to researchers who developed this printing process.
New Structures and Flavours
By making the 3d printer layer for layer the product, completely new foods are made with new shapes, compositions, textures, structures, and flavors. WUR and TNO have already demonstrated the potential of this in various international research projects.
One of the advantages of 3d printing is that you can have very precise quantities of ingredients in particular places. For example, particles of salt or sugar can be dispersed differently than during a regular baking process, so that the product with less salt or sugar has to taste just as salty or sweet. Reformulation is often mentioned.
Also for people with swallowing problems (dysphagia) because of a cerebral hemorrhage, the 3d-printing of food can be an outcome. For example, researchers developed a way to print all kinds of dishes, such as boiled potatoes, roots and chicken, in the form you expect, but with a texture that is precisely tailored to what these patients can swallow. Instead of a thin puree, there is ‘ normal ‘ food on your plate, which will benefit the rebelieving.
At the same time, it is also possible to enrich these printed meals with extra nutrients, such as proteins, vitamins or minerals, again precisely tailored to what the person who eats the meal needs. This technique has been developed so far that it can be scaled up for use by a caterer, hospital kitchen or perhaps an innovative food truck.
‘ When looking at the future, the focus is on personalized nutrition ‘, says researcher Martijn Noort of Wageningen Food & BioBased Research. ‘ We know by research more and more about the influence of personal factors on what you need for nutrients, for example by your intestinal flora, genetic influences, your behavior or physical activities.
By allowing you to vary and accurately measure ingredients with the printing of foodstuffs, 3d printing offers the possibility to create unique, personalized food products, which are tailored to a person’s dietary needs and Taste Preferences. ‘ This can also be for top athletes. Who knows, in a few years ‘ periods, do they print their balanced energy bar during exercise or quick recovery, which also tastes better than the current bars?