3D printing of food is turning from pipe dream into commercial reality, as nutrition supplements firm Nourish3d is about to prove.
While the idea of 3D printed food might still seem in the realms of a sci-fi novel, the technology s very much present and already being deployed by, in particular, baking industry professionals for cake or pastry decoration.
At present, the technology is limited and relatively expensive, with the lowest cost of a 3D printer being around $1,000 (£784). Using extrusion, current 3D printers can only handle paste or puree ingredients, such as chocolate, cream or batter. However, the technology is beginning to gain traction, with users understanding how it can help to meet changing demands from consumers.
3D printing could prove a transformative technology for the food industry, from meal customisation to aiding with dietary requirements. Deborah Williams explores the current state of the technology and what it could mean for the market.
In an era where food tastes are gearing towards customisation, 3D food printing, the process of preparing a meal or food item by means of an automated additive method, has been touted as a technology that may be able to participate in providing solutions.
And, at a time when consumers’ dietary requirements are increasing (and varied), 3D food printing, its proponents suggest, also carries benefits for those, say, with food allergies by allowing meals to be specifically designed not only to the recipient’s flavour, style and taste preferences but also to their health conditions.
The 3D food printing market is projected to reach $525.6 million by 2023 according to Research and Markets. Now that is far from the billion-dollar opportunities for the larger food technology sector that I wrote about yesterday: Global Food Tech Industry Expected To Reach $250 Billion By 2022. However, it is still a healthy market segment given the relatively recent introduction of people and companies modifying 3D printers to print with food materials.
I am on a bit of a food tech path this month, but I had to write about 3D food printing given all of my work in the industry. As most readers here know, I frequently have 3D printers come through my workshop on loan for testing and evaluation work and I report on that here when possible. While I have not tested any food grade 3D printers yet, I have the newest Ultimaker S5ready to unbox and am in talks to take a deep dive on the latest cool FabPro 1000 SLA 3D printer from 3D Systems. However, I do not think they would be happy if I tried any modifications with spinach or chocolate or any food, for that matter.
The advent of 3D printing has had some surprising applications, particularly in the food industry.
The adoption of 3D printing in the manufacturing sector is growing, but as with any production technology, the key to proliferation lies in finding the right niche.
Maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services offer a promising entry point for job shops and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to use additive manufacturing for more than just prototyping. The Chocolate Factory, based in Rotterdam, recently learned this firsthand.
Printing precision and accuracy, process productivity and the production of colourful, multi-flavour, multi-structure products remain the biggest challenges to wider industry adoption of 3D food printing.
Findings from a review of this emerging technology point towards a lack of focus on how to achieve accurate an precise printing in order to construct delicate and complex edible structures.
Although 3D printing has uses in areas such as military and spave food, ederly food, confectionary and chewing gum, the research team believe more is to come once these challenges are overcome.
Whizzing across a blue-lit platform with a whirr and a squeak, liquid plastic pours from its chrome tip. The 3D printer seems a far cry from the muddy fields surrounding Yangon.
But in an industrial park south of the city 3D printing technology is now being used to design bespoke parts that are changing the lives of struggling farmers, who often rely on making their own tools or adapting imports in place of agriculture machinery.
But poor equipment is only one challenge amid natural disasters and razor-thin profit-margins for Myanmar’s farmers. Agriculture accounts for nearly half of Myanmar’s economic output, but it is among the smallest export markets in Asia.
But change is afoot at social enterprise Proximity Designs, where 3D printers are being used to design specially adapted farming tools, in consultation with the farmers who will use them.
Printing out your meal may not sound appealing, but 3D technology could revolutionize food manufacturing. There could come a day in the near future when it’s a tablet to table kind of lunch.
It’s Friday night and you want a pizza, but instead of calling the local pizzeria for delivery, you just print out your dinner. Think that sounds a bit too farfetched? Think again.
Foodini from Natural Machines is a 3D printing kitchen appliance that makes pizza, pasta, breads and cookies. It assembles layers of fresh ingredients to take a complex process, like making ravioli, and simplifies the steps, as well as easing the kitchen clean up which is a big value-add.
Initially targeting professional chefs, Natural Machines’ co-founder Lynette Kucsma envisions a time in the near future when a 3D food printer will be a common kitchen appliance. Foodini, which is currently available in limited production with general availability in 2016, will cost about $1,500, according to the Natural Machines website. And, as competitors hit the market and prices start to plummet, a 3D printer could be a convenient way for consumers to make healthy meals on-the-go rather than turning to highly-processed foods packaged for the microwave.