Jul 17, 2017 | By Tess

Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has initiated a number of 3D printing projects in recent years, including launching a metal 3D printing center. Another key area of focus for the research organization is 3D printed food, which it believes will be the future of healthy living.

In fact, a CSIRO food structure team led by Dr. Amy Logan has just launched a three-year study into the personalized fabrication of smart foods—foods that are 3D printed and contain nutritional contents customized to the eater.

The idea is to develop a personal food manufacturing system that could create “tailored diets” based on a person’s genetic information, physiological state, and lifestyle. As Dr. Logan explained, “The vision we have is that in 20 years time, someone would wake up in the morning [and] their physiological markers will have already been measured in a really unintrusive way, potentially through their sweat while they’ve been sleeping using biosensor technology.”

The customized smart food, which would apparently be “actual food” (rather than a mush, for instance), could have a number of benefits. According to the European Food Information Council, food with customized nutrition has the potential to improve not only the individual’s health, but also to reduce such societal problems as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and malnutrition.

During the three-year research study, Logan and her team will focus on how smart foods can be structured so that they retain the “mouthfeel” of eating actual food. “We’re doing the underpinning work at the moment to examine how we can structure these foods,” said Logan. “We’re looking at, as a basis, high-protein-based foods, so there is a nice structure. We’re looking at what the best mechanism would be, not closing any doors.”

3D printing is being explored as one of these mechanisms. Though the technology is not quite there yet, Logan says that additive manufacturing technology is “at the heart of the research” and holds promise for producing the smart foods she believes are the future.

Who will this futuristic-sounding smart food be targeted at? Everyone, apparently. As Logan says, the research will be geared towards catering to everyday people, from the elderly to professional athletes. “We’re seeing trends that everyday, average people are more willing to have their data collected, through Fitbits and other monitoring techniques, and are more interested in what it is they’re eating,” she explained.

Places like schools as well, where nutrition is of utmost importance but often falls short, could benefit hugely from being able to produce healthy food customized to each student. Logan hopes that down the line, food 3D printers will be as commonplace as a coffee machine.

A parallel project by CSIRO will also be investigating how to 3D print food for people with dysphagia, a condition that makes it difficult to swallow.

In a bid to promote her research initiative, Dr. Logan will this week be presenting a seminar at Foodpro, a food manufacturing event being held in Sydney, Australia. The event, which has been running every year for the past fifty years, brings together the best and the newest of the food manufacturing industry, from state-of-the-art processing machines to the newest fads in food technology and flavors.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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