According to a group of researchers, they believe that they are quite close to the mass industrialisation of 3D food printing.
A research team at the University of Sao Paulo Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture (ESALQ-USP) in Brazil collaborated with the colleagues in France at Nantes Atlantic College of Veterinary Medicine Food Science and Engineering (Oniris) and the National Institute for Research on Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE) have developed hydrogels, which act as ‘ink’.
“In the past few years we’ve developed different technologies to modify starch and obtain gels with ideal characteristics for use as ‘ink’ to produce food by 3D printing,” Pedro Esteves Duarte Augusto, a professor at ESALQ-USP and principal investigator for the project, told FAPESP.
Researchers produced the first gels were based on Cassava Starch using the method of modifying the starch.
The group said, ozone was produced by applying electrical discharge to oxygen. Later the gas was bubbled in a container using the mixture of water and cassava starch.
This different approach of the process made researchers to obtain gels using different properties to find right consistency in 3D printing.
“Control of the conditions enabled us to obtain weaker gels for other applications and firmer gels that are ideal for 3D printing because they retain the shape of the printed structure without flowing or losing moisture,” Augusto said.
By using few new methods, researchers were able to obtain gels based on the modified starch displaying optimal printability. Gels were able to create 3D object and kept the structure maintained even after the print. Researchers also tried for dry heat treatment, which extended the textural possibilities of printed samples.
“We obtained good results with both methods. They’re simple, cheap and easy to implement on an industrial scale,” Augusto said
“The combined experience of all the researchers involved in the project enabled us to obtain gels with better printability, resulting in foods with better shape, definition and texture, which are essential parameters for product acceptability,” said ESALQ-USP researcher, Bianca Chieregato Maniglia.
Researchers also claim that both modified cassava and wheat starch gels are useable for printing different things.
“We’ve demonstrated the feasibility of food production by 3D printing and fabrication of tailor-made ingredients. Now we plan to extend the applications and test other raw materials,” Augusto said.