Enterprises and manufacturers across various industries like automotive, packaging, aerospace, leveraging and piloting are enjoying the many benefits that 3D printing offers. But did you know that food industry is also likely to benefit highly from 3D printing technology? The value of 3D printing in the year 2013 stood at $3.07 billion, but in 2018, it has grown to over $12.8 billion. The value might be over $21 billion by the end of the year 2020.
3D printing and the food industry
With the growth of 3D printing technology, the food industry has observed many breakthroughs and many companies from different parts of the world are working to benefit from 3D printing food. As you already know, 3D printing is not an idea: it is real and revolutionizing production and innovation through customizability, creativity and sustainability.
The form of printing employs a process well known as additive manufacturing, which involves 3D deposition printers that deposit material layers slowly – one on the top of the other – to make a product. The producer can also use 3D binding printers to bind the layers with adhesive. The 3D printers that producers use to create and manufacture food use powdery materials, lasers, nozzles and other items. They are now opening doors in the world of food production. They are also facilitating customization of food and helping deliver a stronger mix – containing the right nutrients.
3D food printing innovations
The 3D Systems ChefJet uses crystalized fine-grain sugar to make perfect geometric and higher output confectionary, but some companies dispense chocolate into their beautiful patterns using syringes. One company, Foodini, uses edible ingredients that they squeeze from stainless steel capsules to make a wider range of dishes.
A Germany nursing home is also using 3D printers to make food products known as Smoothfoods – a connection of broccoli, carrot and peas. They then congeal the tasty dish with edible glue and serve it to the elderly residents having trouble in chewing. That has been a great advancement and over 1,000 facilities in Germany have already adopted the technology.
CIA Culinary Institute of America collaborated with 3D Systems, the ChefJet inventor, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in the year 2014 in Las Vegas to allow better testing of all their 3D food printers. The CIA is already planning to start using 3D food printers in their fellowship and internship programs. They feel that 3D printing technology can help people come up with many new ideas and save a lot of time in production processes.
There are no limits to the scope and more things are likely to come up in the world of 3D printing. In other words, you might find yourself eating pizzas, pastas, quiche and brownies from 3D food printers in the near future.
The benefits of 3D printing in the food industry
3D printers are now more affordable for average consumers and therefore the food industry will highly gain from the technology. Most food printing manufacturers are lauding the capacity of 3D food printers and that has helped boost nutritional and ingredient customization in addition to the user’s creativity. Some of the many advantages 3D food printing technology offers include:
Time and effort saving
Application of 3D printing in the food industry will save both the energy and time needed to experiment chocolate/sugar cake toppers or cocktail garnishes. No one, including the properly trained pastry chefs, will achieve the perfection 3D food printers provide.
Healthy foods innovation
The application of 3D printing technology is unlikely to happen in kitchens alone. A Dutch food designer, Chloe Rutzerveld, has been using food printers to make cracker-like yeast structures, which include seeds and spores that germinate with time. The designer believes that such snacks along with other natural and easier to transport products will change the food industry.
Just like the traditional manufacturing systems, 3D food printing has the ability to provide to the growing world population. Moreover, 3D food printers are likely to reduce the amount of wastes the food industry witnesses each year. The printers use hydrocolloid cartridges, which form gels if combined with water. This technology allows use of the rarely used ingredients, such as grass, duckweed, algae and insects in making some of the familiar dishes.
Personalized reproductive nutrition
Every 3D printer follows digital instructions and therefore the idea of creating personalized food featuring the right percentage for every nutrient will help create foods purposely for people of particular ages or gender. A food printer can determine the amount of vitamins, fatty acids and carbohydrates the served foods contain easily. That will facilitate production of foods to meet reproduction needs.
How is the future for 3D printing?
Today, the food 3D printers produce are not great tasting or cooking up elaborated meals from scratch. However, they have the capability of producing such meals and are getting better at nutrition and sustainability.
An engineer, Anjan Contractor, is already working to develop a pizza-making printer that will make the whole process of preparing great-tasting pizzas easy. He believes that the printer will make food from powder and oil capsules with a 30 years shelf life. Such machines would minimize the impacts of cooking on the environment and present a renewable type of substances to the growing world’s population.
CMO and Natural Machines cofounder, Lynette Kucsma, believes that the 3D food printing technology can also guarantee better nutrition. For example, printers like Foodihi minimize the chemical additives quantity and reduces overconsumption. Soon, you might wake at the morning and ask your 3D printer to make your breakfast – containing the right amount of protein and fat.
Even though 3D printing is advantageous, it has to overcome several challenges including speed. Some of the designs food printers produce today require the user to cool the ingredients first before applying another layer – that leads to delayed food preparation. Consumers will also need to get used to this new technology and stop associating it with synthetic foods.
3D food printers have promised affordable and sustainable nutrition. And with the food industry working to improve the technology and solve the associated problems, you are likely to witness more. The printers are likely to be the future microwave ovens.