Apr 18, 2016 | By Tess

The future of 3D printing will be tied to many fields, from medicine, to aerospace, to design and fashion, and even to food. As we continue to see, makers and engineers, in collaboration with chefs and food connoisseurs, have been developing a range of 3D printers and related technologies to make 3D printed food a commercially viable and even appealing way of eating. Recently, at this year’s 3D Printing Food Conference, in Venlo, The Netherlands, a number of new innovations in the delectable field of 3D printed food have come to light. For instance, Dutch startup byFlow fed six of its guests a delicious five-course 3D printed meal during the conference, and now a Belgian researcher has announced the prototype for a food 3D printer that uses pectin gel to additively manufacture candy.

The 3D printed confectionary breakthrough was announced at the conference by Valérie Vancauwenberghe, a PhD candidate at KU Leuven’s MebioS division in Belgium who has dedicated her research to finding new methods of 3D printing artificial cellular plant tissues,  which has included the additive manufacturing of gummy candies.

Valérie Vancauwenberghe

Her innovative research has led her to find that pectin, a naturally occurring gelling agent, derived from the primary cell walls of fruits, and traditionally used as a thickener for jams and jellies, could be a suitable material to be used in the 3D printing of candy.

So far in the research, Vancauwenberghe has been using low-methoxylated pectin to create shapes similar to a gummie bears to work out certain properties of the ingredient, such as rupture stress and consistency. According to the research, variable properties are attainable with pectin by using different concentrations of it as well as varying concentrations of sugar syrup. Additionally, air bubbles, which can be stabilized using a surfactant protein, can be used to provide a porous texture for the 3D printed edibles.

As mentioned, a 3D printer prototype capable of additively manufacturing the pectin based sweets is in development. As Vancauwenberghe explains, “we developed a prototype printer to print material at room temperature such as pectin gel. If we wanted to make candy it would be interesting to see how much sugar we could add without changing the printability of the product. We would need to make the material extrudable at room temperature.”

Though we have yet to try one of the 3D printed pectin candies, the research being conducted by Vancauwenberghe could be a big step in the advancement of 3D printed treats, as it could not only eliminate the need for gelatin (a animal-based product) making the 3D printed candies suitable for a wide range of dietary requirements, but could allow for customers to design and determine the texture for their own 3D printed candy.




Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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