Apr 25, 2018 | By David

Researchers in South Korea are developing a revolutionary new approach to nutrition, that draws on the potential of 3D printing food. The new platform designed by Jin-Kyu Rhee, associate professor at South Korea’s Ewha Womans University, can use the technology to create customized food items. These will be made using basic powder ingredients, and their structures could be precisely controlled at the nano- level through 3D printing. This would enable the food items to be tailored to the specific nutritional needs or preferences of individuals.

(source: Olio)

''We built a platform that uses 3D printing to create food microstructures that allow food texture and body absorption to be customized on a personal level,'' said Rhee, in a press statement. "We think that one day, people could have cartridges that contain powdered versions of various ingredients that would be put together using 3-D printing and cooked according to the user's needs or preferences.''

The prototype 3D printer created by Rhee and his team was used to fabricate food items with microstructures that successfully replicated the physical properties and nanoscale texture that they observed in actual everyday food samples. It prints in much the same way as a regular FDM machine does, depositing materials in specific places to gradually build up a pre-determined 3D structure, layer-by-layer. Firstly, food materials are pulverized under ultra-low temperature close to -100 degrees Celsius. Next, the micro-sized food materials are reconstructed into a porous film-shaped material by jetting a bonding agent under optimized water content and heat conditions.

(source: Rhee)

The system was also capable of demonstrating the ability to turn carbohydrate and protein powers into food with specific microstructures that can be tuned to control food texture and how the food is absorbed by the body. This would enable the nutritional or other properties of food to be optimized to be superior to those of regular protein or carbohydrate-based foods or meals.

As well as the possibility for customization based on personal preferences, and the health benefits that would arise from increased control over nutritional properties of food, there are number of other things that 3D printed food could help with. Food waste is a growing area of concern, as the current high levels of mass production are inefficient as well as unsustainable. 3D printing customized food items according to specific digital designs would drastically cut down on waste, and could be carried out on an industrial scale or in people’s homes.

On-demand production of food using 3D printing technology would also reduce the costs involved with storage and transportation. These kinds of logistical improvements would make it easier for food to get where it needs to go, helping to meet the nutritional needs of a growing population, particularly in the developing world.

(source: Olio)

All these issues are motivating further research by Rhee and his team. ''We are only in early stages, but we believe our research will move 3-D food printing to the next level," he said. "We are continuing to optimize our 3D print technology to create customized food materials and products that exhibit longer storage times and enhanced functionality in terms of body absorption.''

Rhee will be discussing his research at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s annual meeting, during the 2018 Experimental Biology meeting to be held April 21-25 in San Diego.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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