This is how 3D food printing works

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cheescake 3d.jpg
cheescake 3d.jpg

Food printing technology has been around since 2005, but limited to a small number of raw ingredients and lab work, resulting in unappetizing dishes. Recently, through research, this limitation was broken by printing a dish (the cake in the attached image) made up of seven ingredients (including peanut butter, hazelnut cream and strawberry jam), cooked in situ using a laser.

That achievement stemmed from the work of a team of mechanical engineers at Columbia University, dedicated to addressing the challenges of 3D printing food. In a new article published by npj Science of Food, the authors discuss the benefits and drawbacks of the technology, comparing 3D-printed food to conventional food and the future of cooking.

Details, potential benefits and challenges of 3D printing food

Precision multi-layer food printing could produce more customizable foods, improve food safety, and allow users to more easily control the nutrient content of meals.

Food 3D printing is still a nascent technology and needs an ecosystem of supporting industries, such as food cartridge manufacturers, downloadable recipe files, and an environment to create and share these recipes. Its ability to customize makes it particularly practical for the plant-based meat market, where texture and flavor must be carefully formulated to mimic real meats.

This food technology will continue to produce processed foods. A possible positive side of this implementation is better control and adaptation of nutrition. It may also be useful in making food more appealing to people with swallowing disorders by mimicking the shapes of real food with the puréed textured food that these patients require.

Laser cooking and 3D food printing could allow chefs to localize flavors and textures on a millimeter scale to create new dining experiences. People with dietary restrictions, parents of young children, nursing home dietitians, and athletes alike may find these personalized meal planning techniques very useful and convenient.

3D food printing has the potential to improve food safety, as food can be produced in sterile environments and without the need for human manipulation. It could also reduce food waste, since ingredients could be printed in exactly the amounts needed. Additionally, food personalization could allow for more appropriate nutrition for people with specific dietary needs, such as those with allergies or chronic illnesses.

As novel and potentially useful as this system may be, there are still significant challenges that need to be addressed in order for 3D food printing technology to become an everyday reality in our kitchens. The main one is that the 3D food printing process is not yet fast enough to compete with conventional cooking processes, and also, printing equipment is expensive and not widely available.

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Brian Adam
Professional Blogger, V logger, traveler and explorer of new horizons.