Nov.21, 2014 | By Alec

Food printing can be considered as the holy grail of 3D printing, and it's hardly surprising that so many companies and start-ups are looking at different possibilities and 'food filaments'. Just imagine that your machine could become the new microwave and find its way to just about every kitchen in the planet.

And while this is still very much an ongoing process, new steps are being made all the time. Several companies have already successfully experimented with printing edible and tasty materials like chocolate, and just last week we reported on the launch of a 3D food printer by the Taiwan-based start-up XYZprinting capable of making cookies and other treats.

But every step requires months and sometimes years of experimenting, failures and lessons learnt. And in that respect, it's very interesting to keep an eye on the 3digitalcooks blog, run by a bunch of foodies who are heavily experimenting with 3D printable foodstuffs like chocolate and potatoes. They have used their self-designed PLYUMP extruder on a variety of food filaments already.

And as you might expect, that isn't always easy or successful. This is perhaps best illustrated by their latest series of experiments, featuring banana filament. That's right. Bananas. Theoretically, it's not as bad as it sounds. Not only is a banana very healthy, it's also a flexible material. It can easily be mashed into a goo that can be extruded, while anyone who has ever made a banana pancake (just a mash up and fry a banana and two eggs) knows it can become quite solid too.

But don't expect it to become a staple feature of future's kitchen top food printers just yet, as '#epicdeliciousfail' was used by the 3digitalcooks guys to describe their results. Their first experiments quickly revealed that bananas lack the 'consistency to hold a 3D shape.'

Since then they've experimented with food thickeners, and had some surprising shaping effects with potato starch. As the pictures illustrate, this sure enabled it to hold a 3D printed shape, but would you like it eat it?

Initially, they tried mixing potato starch directly into the banana purée, adding 18 grams of the stuff to 220 grams of purée. The results didn't look appetizing, but certainly held the necessary shape. A second attempt, involving water and orange juice, resulted in a smoother consistency and surface, while not looking as brown. But let's be honest; this doesn't look appetizing at all.

However, the guys have already vowed to continue their experiments, and that alone is worth applause. Future tests will include ascorbic acid to fight the unappetizing color and other starches to maintain its flavour as much as possible, but we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

In a worst-case scenario, we'll know what isn't suitable to be printed…

In case you're wondering what their experiments look like, check out this video of an attempt to print in yoghurt:



Posted in 3D Printing Applications

 

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Mike Hunt wrote at 11/22/2014 2:15:02 PM:

McNuggets, Boneless Wings, and the legendary yet poorly understood "Green Slime" are all technically 3d printed foods. Well molded,and in the case of the slime a material which would be molded into filament to print said food.



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