Recently Natural Machines made the news with more detailed specifications about their long-expected healthy food printer, which will be released later on this year. The news was remarkable, as food printing today mainly refers to producing less healthy products, such as chocolates, sweets and space pizzas. Now, only two weeks later, another party is trying the healthier side of food printing. And not just some party, because it’s the European Union, working on a food printer to prepare personalized meals for the elderly.
This project regards to an older target group, as in 2025 one in five citizens in the EU will be 65-years-old and over. The general problem with this group is that a lot of them will undergo difficulties swallowing their food. This condition is called dysphagia and studies show that today 15 to 25 percent of all people over 50 years suffer from such a condition. The problem however is that the same group has a higher risk of getting sick in some way, which often requires specialized diets. If someone can’t swallow properly, then that surely is a problem.
Last year’s December, we asked ourselves the question whether our future food will be 3D printed. Well, at the start of 2014 we were able to make some predictions about food printing trends for 2014. One of the companies mentioned in the article was Barcelona-based film Natural Machines, a company which distinguishes itself from the masses by the aim to produce a printer to prepare healthy food. Right now, they’ve created a prototype of their machine ‘Foodini’. Using this device, you can use your personal products to prepare your own cookies, breads, pizzas and decorations.
It works as follows: a food printers needs capsules to print out the actual food, and for all contemporary printers these capsules are pre-filled. The Foodini however does not use pre-filled capsules, but open capsules that users can fill with products of their choice. This shows the strength as well as the weakness of this new device, because all products need to be blended in order to become printing material. This means the printer will not be able to do all kitchen work for you, as you still have to blend the food yourself. And did you ever put a chicken in a blender?
For the first time in history, doctors have replaced a patient’s skull by a 3D printed version. A 22-year-old woman from The Netherlands suffered from a rare disease, which made her skull grow. She knew something had to be done to make her survive, so she choose for a risky operation, which lasted as many as 23 hours. The operation at UMC Utrecht however turned out to become a great success, making it the first time in history a patient’s skull was replaced by a 3D printed counterpart.
The woman suffered from a disease, which made her skull grow, causing many headaches and a reduction in her visibility. Without this operation, her skull would have continued to grow, leading to a loss of brain functions, which would eventually have killed her. A tragic disease, but who would have thought a printer would safe her life?
Young Taiwanese researchers recently came up with something highly interesting: a bicycle that can turn garbage into art. They ‘invaded’ the streets of Taipei on a mini-factory bike, called the Mobile Fab. This bicycle uses plastic bags or PET bottles to create 3D printed pieces of art. The time required to print out such objects? Only half an hour. The goal? bringing 3D printing and recycling closer to the people.
The great thing about this project is that the factory-ish bike uses PET bottles and other plastic garbage to create new filament. One of the current problems with 3D printing is still that the filament, which is required for the production process, is still a highly expensive material to buy. Recently, a lot of different companies have been searching for solutions for these problems, leading to inter alia, the invention of the Noztek Pro Filament Extruder. This is a box which converts wholesale bulk pellets into “premium quality” plastic.
Today, we can purchase 3D printed products online at Amazon, and tomorrow websites such as Amazon or Ebay might only be selling files to be printed out on our own 3D printer at home. A lot of benefits are there, such as the advantage of reduced costs due to the absence of physical postal delivery. However, what we still don’t know is whether 3D printing plastics in our living room could become healthier in the future – because research shows today it certainly isn’t anywhere near it.
Did you know that using a desktop 3D printer is similar to smoking a cigarette? Last year’s July, researchers at Illinois Institute of Technology and the National Institute of Applied Sciences in Lyon, France did a research on the subject and discovered some serious health risks with 3D printing at home. 3D printers release emissions, which contain ultrafine particles (UFPs). Such particles can have a negative effect on a person’s health, as it can settle in the lungs or even the bloodstream. Exposure to UFP’s could cause lung disease or high stress. As you can imagine, especially asthma patients are very vulnerable in this case.
You can’t just print out anything. That sounds a little odd, because 3D printers have the aim to turn the sky into the limit. However, doing so must be safe and not all materials can guarantee a sufficient kind of safety, namely ABS plastics contain some health risks. Let us explain you something about the possible risks of ABS and give you some alternatives.
If you would use ABS plastic to print out something, it will contain BPA: the industrial chemical bisphenol A. Some studies have shown a correlation between the chemical and cancer or heart problems and it can be extra bad for children, damaging their behavior and brains. If you would use this kind of plastics to print out cutlery, you will use the 3D printed cutlery to eat your food, whereby the spoon or fork will be in your mouth for some time. This means your mouth will be in contact with with this chemical substance bisphenol A.
One of today’s biggest environmental problems is the high amount of plastic waste. Although Western countries are gradually taking action with successful recycle programs, Third World countries still have a very high amount of polluting litter lying on the streets. On the other hand there’s 3D printing, where plastic is needed for filament to make certain products. Filament prices for 3D printing are extremely high, with average costs of about 30 dollars for a spool of plastics. Why wouldn’t we combine these elements and turn it into something better, is what a team from the Michigan Technology University (MTU) must have thought.
And so a research group led by Joshua Pearce, a professor of materials science, did a study on plastic waste. And as it turns out, using plastic waste for plastic 3D printer filament is a lot cheaper than recycling it. This is due to the fact that using it for filament costs a lot less energy. If you take into account that one of the biggest disadvantages of 3D printing today is that it’s polluting because it uses so much plastic, than the results from this study are even more amazing.
The European Space Agency (ESA) and London-bases architectural firm Foster + Partners are working on a way to 3D print a lunar base. For this project they will be using local soil – regolith - instead of plastics, in order to reduce the amount of brought materials and lower the overall costs.
The idea is to create a weight-bearing dome with cellular structured walls to provide for shelter against micrometeoroids and space radiation. The base needs to be sufficient to take in up to four astronauts. Since the team is testing the project down on earth, it simulates soil using a mixture of silicon, aluminum, calcium, iron and magnesium oxide. In addition, they use a vacuum chamber in order to simulate the moon’s surface. After each print, salt is added to harden up the wall and as it seems, the team has already printed out several wall sections.
It is expected that in the future houses will be built with the help of a 3D printer. Southern Californian company Contour Crafting has already been working on a way to build concrete buildings with a 3D printer, but the company has now found a fellow thinker in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. DUS Architects is working on building a 3D printed canal house, which will be opened to the public by March 1.
The project is called 3D Print Canal House and the home will be 3D printed room by room, using a 20-foot-tall 3D printer, called KamerPrinter (translation: room printer). DUS Architects has started using the construction expo at Januari 10, and they have already created items such as a giant bench. By March 1, visitors can also make a visit to the 3D printing construction site during weekdays. The money the company earns from tickets will be used for the project, which somehow turns it into a crowd funding project where Amsterdam citizens altogether pay for a new building in their city.
Food printing is the most recent hype in the world of 3D printing. This production method 3D prints food layer-by-layer, and several companies are working on techniques to print out proper meals. 3dprinting.com is keeping an eye on the world’s developments and we bring you the ones worth following in 2014.
Last year’s December, we asked ourselves the question whether our future food would become 3D printed. Obviously, it’s hard to give a proper answer to this question, as the technique is still in its developing phase. However, the first signs of food printing are already entering the market. Companies such as Choc Edge and Pic Chocolates are offering services to 3D print people’s self-designed chocolate figurines. In the long term, Natural Machines is a more relevant company to mean something for the overall food sector. The company works on a 3D printer to produce anything that’s made of dough, paste or stiff liquid, such as all pastas and breads.