Dutch research institution TNO is working on a 3D food printer that can make puréed food look like ‘real’ food again by printing it. 3D printed food.
TNO-researcher Kjeld van Bommel expects that in five years food will be printed and served in nursing homes. “We are going to print 3d-broccoli florets out of puréed broccoli”. What happens now is that people with chewing and swallowing problems get a sort of milkshake with puréed food as a meal, three times a day.
“All the fun of eating disappears for these people, and because of this some people get underfed in nursing homes. Puréed chicken in the shape of a drumstick could change this. People then get food on their plate again that they have eat using cutlery. This way they feel less disadvantaged and will improve their eating habits. That again leads to a better quality of life. This printer also needs to be able to adjust the meals to the specific needs of patients, some patients need more calcium in their food for instance.” Said Van Bommel.
The European Union supports this project of TNO with funding until the end of 2014. After that, a prototype must be able to print a meal every minute. Van Bommel expects that a few years later production models will be able to print even faster and will be widely adopted in the health care industry.
Besides that, Van Bommel says that TNO is working together with a few major international food-companies (that need to remain anonymous) to develop 3d printing technologies for nutrients.
So what else can food printing be used for?
- This technology can contribute to converting alternative ingredients such as proteins from algae, beet tops, or even insects into tasty products that are not only good for your health but also for the environment. A food printer also opens the way for fully customizable nutrition (Personalized Food) as it can make products that exactly fit the needs and preferences of individuals.
- In addition, the printer can make sure that your personal dish is made at exactly the right time te ensure that a fresh and healthy dish waiting for you when you get home.
- And finally, the printing of food provides enormous freedom in design. This applies not only to the 3D shape but also for the composition (the ingredients and their mutual relationship), the structure and texture, not to mention the taste. This makes it possible to develop products that can not be made otherwise.
Take a look at this great video by TNO:
Very interesting as well is this TEDx Brainport by Kjalt van Bommel
Chocolate 3D printer
During the Foodhack event in Eindhoven yesterday evening, Van Bommel showed a chocolade 3D printer TNO developed. This printer basically uses the conventional 3D printing FDM technology (layer by layer) but because there is no such thing as a chocolate spool, this printer uses a technique similar to that of a cream spray but automated. The chocolate is heated to make it liquid and after printing immediately cooled down using nitrogen.
Van Bommel doesn’t expect this machine to take over the role of baking companies but he expects a printer like this to be in the kitchen of hobbyists.