May 30, 2014

Researchers in Germany are doing some incredible things with 3D printing. They are working on a 3D food printer that will be able to create easily digestible food, which not only maintains the shape and taste of the real thing, but can also be fortified with specific nutrients.

In April we reported that Germany company Biozoon Food Innovations is coordinating the EU-funded PERFORMANCE project to create a 3D food printer in order to provide better meals for both the elderly and sufferers of dysphagia - those with this problem have difficulties eating. The food could end up in the lungs instead of the stomach because their larynx doesn't close properly during swallowing. In nursing homes, it is estimated that up to 60 % of people suffer from the dysphagia.

This week, Nadja Sayej of Munchies unveiled more info about this 3D food printer. Rather than 'porridge-like food' currently provided in nursing homes, the 3D food printer makes Smoothfood which is melt-in-your-mouth food created from fresh ingredients.

According to Sandra Forstner, a project manager at Biozoon, this 3D printed food is actually quite delicious. Currently they use cauliflower, peas, chicken, pork, potatoes and pasta to make their foods, with more foodstuffs coming in the future. These ingredients were bound together with a solidifying agent, which Biozoon wants to keep secret, but is safe for consumption product.

The combination is then injected into a modified Foodjet 3D printer as 'ink'. The material is printed in layers on a special plate, which is also developed within the project. The secret additive mix makes sure that the layers merge without visible layer formation, but are strong enough that the food items do not collapse. The food would resemble its original form but has soft and gel-like texture so it would simply melt in the mouth.

"The printer is controlled by software where you can program, more or less, every kind of shape." said Forstner. "The printing material itself will provide the taste since it's normally spiced food pure, combined with the newly developed texturizing system that will be printed onto the plate. This means that with the printer we cannot adjust the taste, only the shape."

The Foodjet printer is created by Dutch company De Grood Innovations, the first company in the world to digitally print tailor-made edible high-viscosity decorations directly onto mass-produced food products. So "instead of making the meals in nursing home kitchens, they're custom made in Nijmegen, ordered through a QR code, and served on plastic plates."

As for the taste, Forstner said, "It tastes like normal food. It is made from fresh ingredients, so the taste doesn't change. One of our goals is not to change the flavor; the texturizing system doesn't change it."

Biozoon has 20 employees, including 7 studied scientists working on this project. The European Union has invested nearly €3 million (roughly $4m/ £2.5m) in the project hoping to improve life of elderly people living in care facilities, and provide tasty, nutritional food to individuals who suffered a stroke or have cancer or had an accident that led to dysphagia.

Posted in 3D Printers


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MuX wrote at 6/21/2015 12:09:10 PM:

Only Slightly more appealing than hospital food!

orest wrote at 5/31/2014 12:26:48 PM:

Ehm, so EU invested 3M of tax payers money in order to create a secret proprietary solidifying agent ?

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