4D printing and food printing are about to collide. MIT’s Tangible Media Group has developed pasta that reacts folds into various shapes when in contact with heat and water. While all pasta does this to some extent, this particular type reacts with a pre-designed and “programmed” design. The pasta is flat but takes wild shapes when boiled.
To achieve this effect, Wen Wang and Lining Yao 3D printed strips of edible cellulose over the top layer of the gelatine. Then, they enlisted the help of a chef to develop it into an edible and pleasing brand of food. The research required the recording of temperatures, malleability and absorbance. The researchers made a database of the properties and created the ideal prototype from the data.
One of the core reasons the team decided to engage in this project was space saving. They crunched the numbers and realised that even the best packaging meant that 67% of the space in packages of certain pastas was pure air. This new flat pasta could provide the packaging industry with more spacial economy in their packaging.
The video below shows the transformations in progress and the various types of pasta.
4D Printing and Food
Wang, Yao and a few other students developed this concept as a way to show the ways in which 4D printing could bring out new food designs from economical shapes. Not only have they shown shapes for pasta, but they also developed color and transparency options. The MIT team have also developed certain types of pasta that are entirely see-through.
Another such example shows how the pasta’s structure can be made in such a way that it breaks off into different sections when ready. This was a type that consisted of spaces that made the pasta break off into individual pieces as it grew. This research opens up a fun new field that can make cooking easier. It’s also quite minimalistic on the part of the consumer as it doesn’t require extra technology or a new process.