Apr 14, 2016 | By Alec

Is there a future for the 3D printed food industry? While some people criticize existing food 3D printers for their limitations or question the technology’s usefulness, Dutch innovators byFlow have just showcased the technology’s potential during a special event at the 3D Food Printing Conference in Venlo, the Netherlands. On April 12th, six lucky visitors of the conference were able to taste a wide variety of 3D printed foods during a five course meal, all created using byFlow 3D printers in the pop-up restaurant of Spanish chef Mateo Blanch.

This was the second edition of the 3D Food Printing Conference, and visitors were able to try culinary delights that included chicken 3D printed in the shape of an octopus (steamed after 3D printing), 3D printed goat’s cheese and even meat that had been dissolved in champagne to make it extrudable.

But the most exclusive delights were saved for the six lucky guests, who were served a five course meal that included carpaccio and guacamole. All, of course, 3D printed in unique shapes and carefully garnished with high quality ingredients. This truly gastronomical experience was made possible by Spanish chef Mateo Blanch, who was previously awarded a Michelin Star for his Restaurant La Boscana. The pop-up restaurant was also realized with the help of 3D Samba, 3DChef, and London’s 3DFP Ventures, who worked with byFlow to create an interactive, edible art experience that combines fine dining with next-gen technology. This 3D printing pop-up restaurant is already scheduled to appear in Dubai, Seoul, Rome, Paris, Las Vegas, Toronto, Berlin, and Singapore as well.

But according to owners of startup byFlow, the restaurant simply showcased the viability of 3D printed food and their impressive Focus 3D printer. The startup is owned by brother and sister Nina and Floris Hoff, their father Frits and friend Jeanine Hendriks. As Nina said in Venlo, the event’s success proves that food 3D printing definitely has a future in exclusive restaurants for its ability to make fun, diverse and tasty dishes. But, as she was quick to add, food 3D printers are far more than a culinary gimmick. “Food 3D printing has significant practical advantages,” she argued. “For instance for people who have difficulty chewing or swallowing their food. They are often served an overcooked mush that has been thrown in a blender. It’s not appetizing, while the process destroys flavor and nutritional value.”

As visitors in Venlo could experience, 3D printed food doesn’t just look great. It also maintains the original flavors and nutritional value of its ingredients. “If necessary, you can even customize a 3D printing job to contain a certain number of calories, and even add additional vitamins and whatever the body needs,” Nina said. This, she adds, would make it a perfect solution for combating malnutrition.

The 3D printer itself was developed and constructed by Floris, and is currently capable of 3D printing a wide variety of food types, including meat and vegetables, thanks to a clever system of interchangeable print heads. “Freeze dried vegetables and fruit retain their nutritional value. By turning that into a powder and binding it with agar-agar, we can make a 3D printable paste,” Nina explains. The same can be done for chicken, for instance, that has been mixed with herbs and turned into a paste. After 3D printing, the unique shapes can still be cooked in a pan, baked in the oven or even steamed.

Unfortunately, the Focus 3D printer isn’t completely finished yet. “We have been working on the technology for a long time, but now the focus is shifting towards taste,” Nina explained. To optimize the flavor and structure of the products, they are currently working with a number of top chefs, including Hans van Wolde. But they are already very optimistic about the near future, arguing that we are at the eve of a food 3D printing revolution that is moving at an incredible pace. “Large food corporations will fall behind if they ignore this technology,” Nina concluded.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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