3D Printed Foods

What I love about tech, is the fact that it revamps industries once viewed as “traditional” and offers creative ways to deliver a similar satisfaction, if not more. 3D Printed Foods, is one of the emerging space, which offers a way of preparing food in an automated additive manner via 3D custom-built printers using particular or certain food ingredients.

Food created on Focus 3D Printer, Image byFlow

Over the years, it has gone from just an idea to modern day reality, as the world population has grown, forcing a growing food demand while also taking into consideration their individual lifestyle choices. This reality has allowed for an advancement in technology, that has enabled the printers to use different ingredients to manufacture the required food with respect to the programmed algorithm. This result is being made successful through the Additive Manufacturing technology, which has advanced enough, to provide benefits as that of traditional systems, but with customization of cuisines and ingredients as per nutritional requirement.

3D Printing method depending on materials

How do they work?

One has to design a virtual 3D model, the slicing software will then translate the model into individual layers, then the machine will finally generate codes that will enable for the printing to take place.

The codes uploaded respectively into the printer allows for the food model and recipe to be stored in the computer in advance. The ingredients and materials are placed in the storage container, one then chooses a preferred model and press the start button, the nozzle on the printer head moves and print the materials in layers to form a desired structure.

The 3D Food Production Process

The technique used?

The 3D Food Printing Technology can be achieved using dfferent techniques. These include;

Selective Laser Sintering

This addtive manufacturing technology involves the use of laser to make an object into a solid mass. In the case of 3D printing foods, this method uses computer to control the location and direction of laser irradiation.

Illustration showing Laser Sintering
  • The laser beam irradiates the powder, of which afterwards sinters to form aggregates. The process repeats itself to add powder on top of sintered layers until the final product is achieved

Fused Deposition Modelling

Illustration of a Fused Deposition Modelling

This technique use temperature to heat a material into a semi-melted structure, which quickly hardens after being extruded on a flat supporting table. The process is repeated to achieve the final product

Powder Bed Binder Jetting

This technology allows for glue ejected by the printer nozzle, to bind together thin layer of powder, that was once spread first on a platform. The process is repeated to add a layer on the bonded layer and glue is ejected again to bind them together. The un-bonded powder at each side is then recovered for reutilization.

3D Food Market Segmentation

The 3D Printed Foods market can be segmented as follows;

  • By Product Type including Meat, dough, dairy products, poultry, Chocolates, Sea Food
  • By End-User either Government, Residential and Commercial. Commercial ventures include restaurants, Bakery and Confectionaries
  • Geographically, the market can be analyzed from Middle East, Asia Pacific, Africa, Europe, North & South America

The Commercial end use, shows a high potential, as restaurants and food chains enjoy a huge demand from customers who enjoy custom made dishes which are exclusive to only a few. As for personal uses, one can easily make dishes which were once deemed difficult, in the comfort of his or her own home, just by using a 3D Food Printer.

The market is bound to witness impactful growth in developed regions such as North America and Europe due to the fact that most people have strict schedules hence they prefer to prepare food fast and easy. Other regions will follow suit, as more people are inclined towards this way of life as time evolves.

In times like the ones we live in now, facing the pandemic, 3D Printed Foods come in handy, as one can easily access the food they need, without having the need to go to the grocery, a restaurant or a food joint. Some astronauts have used these machines while they are in space, as it is economically sound and preferable to print food, especially on extended missions other than having stock of foods pre-packaged for a long time.

A Slideshow of 3D Food Printers