The Future of the Food Industry – 3D Printed Food

Although the idea of printing food is one which is highly promising, it is still very much in the development stages. At first, anyone who was keen to sample some 3D printed food will have to be content with a chocolate printed figurine, a piece of pizza or a regular pancake. Recently though, healthy 3D printed meals have been created with a fruit printer as well as the Foodini device.

The Edible Growth Project

An article published over at made mention of the Edible Growth Project that is being headed by a Dutch industrial design student, Chloé Rutzerveld. The project involved her 3D printing a healthy biscuit matric, which contains a variety of plants. Before the printing started, Rutzerveld created the initial matrix on a 3D modeling program. She then printed it out and proceeded to print a combination of spores, yeast and seeds into it.

The actual biscuit was created from a combination of dried fruits, vegetables and a gelatinous paste known as agar agar, which acts as a type of soil for the yeast and seeds. After an initial waiting period of about five days, the plants would have grown sufficiently and the product would be able to be eaten. However, if it is possible to extend the waiting period a little longer, the plants would have more time to grow, which would result in the taste of the food being intensified somewhat.

Combining Printing with Growing

This particular type of 3D food printing is actually a combination of growing real, edible plants and healthy food printing. When using a combination of older and newer methods to produce these meals, Rutzerveld has been able to take food printing to new heights. These days, food printing is sometimes also referred to as on-demand printing, and a group of students from India recently did a great job of demonstrating that with another project that involved creating on-demand airline meals.

Preventing Malnourishment of the Elderly

A few nursing homes in Germany are now serving a 3D printed food product called Smoothfoods to their elderly residents who struggle to chew foods that are hard or more textured. One of the main reasons why this is being done is because pureed foods are usually not overly appetizing, and providing residents with the alternative of 3D printed foods can go a long way to prevent them from becoming malnourished. The Smoothfoods are being made with a combination of mashed peas, carrots and broccoli and these ingredients are combined by means of an edible glue substance. Approximately 1,000 of German nursing homes now serve these meals.

Although 3D food printing may have a few challenges to overcome – with the main one being the speed at which food can be printed – the printing devices being used to create them are improving tremendously each year. With that improvement come the promise of being able to provide foods that are not only nutritionally balanced, but that are as sustainable as possible as well.

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