Three dimensional edible food printing now offers meals chefs or anyone else can print out with a 3D printer that uses edible liquid foods instead of ink, foods that can be shaped into almost any food. In 2013, 3D Systems (DDD) announced a development agreement with candy maker Hershey (HSY) “to explore and develop innovative opportunities for using 3D printing technology in creating edible foods, including confectionery treats.” The printers could allow manufacturers to create candies in new shapes and customized designs. Hershey isn’t the first company to see 3D potential for chocolate, according to the January 28, 2014 Bloomberg Business Week Technology article by Venessa Wong, "All the Food That's Fit to 3D Print, From Chocolates to Pizza." If you're interested in 3D printers that do dessert, you may wish to check out the article, "The ChefJet 3D Printer Prints Dessert, And Yes, It's Really Good."
The foods printed out by 3D printers look like sculptures extruding from the machines. Foods range from candy to ravioli and almost everything in-between including reconstituted chicken, pasta, peas, and most other foods that can be reconstituted through a 3D printer that exudes foods when you push the button.
In fact news of 3-D food printers are popular news stories in business publications. For example, you can take a look at articles on 3 D printing of edibles such as, "Food - 3D Printing Industry, which covers topics such as the latest 3D printing and food news as well as trends in additive manufacturing industry. Industry leading coverage on 3D printers featuring videos and images. Interestingly, 3 D food printing also includes printing out all those additives in processed foods.
Then there are articles such as the January 24, 2011 CNN Money article,"This 3D printer makes edible food." Or view the YouTube video,"Taste Testing 3D-Printed Food." How would you like to live in a nursing home where you're fed food printed out by a 3-D printer? You may wish to check out the May 30, 2014 CBS News article, "Nursing homes in Germany serve 3D-printed food."
You have people in nursing homes who may not be able to chew or even swallow food. That article explains how elderly patients living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities who often have trouble chewing and swallowing can eat pureed food that's turned into a meal by a 3-D printer that at least looks appetizing. The European Union is funding a consortium to help further develop 3D-printed "smoothfood" that uses pureed food to create a more appetizing-looking meal. The concept is known as Smoothfood. The company, Biozoon originally created Smoothfood. You may wish to check out the Bizoon company website.They are specialists in Europe for innovative food products.
Pureed food is made to look like a meal on a platter
To the eye, the 3D printed food made from pureed food looks like regular food, and reportedly tastes like food, except for the consistency, which is pureed food. You sip or drink pureed food when you're not able to chew and/or swallow chunks or bite-sized pieces of the usual food people eat. The 3D printed food has a consistency of pureed food. If you can't swallow pieces of food or chew, you need to eat without choking.
Developed in 2010, the concept has been adopted in over 1,000 retirement homes in Germany, according to Wired UK. Check out that article, since here in the USA, there are plenty of people who have the same conditions or who have had their teeth removed and can't chew food. They may be getting tired of putting salad or fruit in a blender and drinking it, or they may not be able to swallow hard food. Some people with dementia also can't swallow food unless it's very soft, such as soups. For another point of view, you also may wish to check out the Guardian article, "3D printed food is a lesson in how not to feed the world."On the other hand, the food printed by 3D printers tastes just like normal food, the Munchies blog website article, "German Old Folks’ Homes Are Serving 3-D Printed Food," explains.
There are only six foods available as smoothfoods: Cauliflower, peas, chicken, pork, potatoes and pasta, according to the CBS article, "Nursing homes in Germany serve 3D-printed food." The food is cooked, pureed, and strained, then mixed with a secret texturizer and 'printed' by a 3D printer into familiar food shapes. The special 3D printer exudes pureed food instead of ink or plastic to sculpt the pureed vegetables, pasta, or meat into the shapes of food. You can check out the article, "3D Printed Food | Tablebases.com."
3-D printed food for astronauts to create customized meals in space
Systems and Materials Research Corporation of Austin, Texas is developing a 3-D food printer for astronauts to create custom meals on the fly, according to a May 22, 2013 Reuters news article by Irene Klotz, "NASA investing in 3-D food printer for astronauts." With support from NASA, the firm, intends to design, build and test a food printer that can work in space.
Can printing food in 3-D end world hunger? Or will it be rejected based on taste and texture? The first step, if accepted, starts with astronauts on long space missions who need food printed out on the fly.
The goal is to design, develop, and modify the nutrition of food and at the same time print out food in three dimensions working in a low-gravity environment, such as on a space ship or on another planet, moon, or asteroid. But will designers make the food nutritious enough, focus mostly on taste, or offer 3-D printed out all-too familiar pizzas, fries, cakes, and other food full of excess fat, salt, or sugar to which most people are being introduced to in childhood? Will the food focus on habit and familiarity/tradition or what's healthy but may not taste sweet, salty, or fatty enough or be deep-fried rather than bite-size raw veggies? You may wish to check out, "3D Printing Food: 3D Printed Burrito, Pizza, Meat, Chocolate?"
Three-dimensional printers create solid objects by depositing droplets of material one layer at a time
Systems and Materials Corporation will be developing nutritionally rich, aesthetically appealing and tasty synthetic food by combining powdered proteins, starches, fats and flavors with water or oil to produce a wide array of digital recipes. The most important point is the long shelf life those food powders have, the ability to last for long periods of time in outer space.
Personalized nutrition is the goal, but it will take into consideration the taste, scent, and flavor to be like real food. At this point, the stage of development is in the form of a proposal to NASA.
Nothing goes to waste with 3-D printed food designed for long-distance space missions
Plans for food printers also can feed a burgeoning world population that is estimated to reach 12 billion by the end of the century. The technology also has implications for the military, if the military accepts the technology of 3-D printed food.
One goal of 3-D food is to reduce military logistics and disposal waste. If there's a war, all focus probably will be on efficiency and mission effectiveness. And as far as nutrition for health, the 3-D printed food is supposed to provide optimal nutrient to the soldiers depending on their personal needs and level of physical activities. Besides military and space travel uses, 3-D printed food could also be used for travelers and those in transit. But will food printers be used daily by average consumers who are looking for optimal nutrition? Will the taste replace "real food" that comes directly from farm to fork?
The first step is to work with NASA and the astronauts
3-D printed food is not yet commercially available to the general public in food markets. Some people are already thinking about applications in weight loss or gain situations. For now, the company has a six-month, Small Business Innovation Research study contract, worth up to $125,000, and the contract is pending, according to NASA. The researchers are waiting for the technology to convince those in power that the systems are working the way they should. The next step, if all goes well, may proceed into a Phase 2 study. That's going to take a few years before such a food production system goes into outer space with astronauts.
For further information, see the May 22, 2013 news articles, "NASA investing in 3-D food printer for astronauts," "NASA asks: Could 3-D-printed food fuel a mission to Mars?" and "NASA funds 3-D printed pizza project." Now the question is whether the 3-D printer will be printing out healthy, nutritious food or junky, fast-food-type meals full of fats, sugars, and salt? Will it focus on taste or providing the right micronutrients for optimum health of those who need it most -- and end world hunger?
There are also edible wraps that people can buy that can keep food fresh without someone having to dispose of the wrap such as bags, foil, boxes, or any other material that wraps around sandwiches. See, "Edible food wraps can keep kids' sandwiches fresh and the environment cleaner." A food wrap is an edible film cut in pre-formed sheets or into envelope-like shapes. It looks like a piece of paper, except that it's made from a highly concentrated puree of a fruit or a vegetable, not from a tree. While a wrap made entirely from fruit or vegetables keeps air from reaching the food, it isn't very water-resistant. This is good because it will dissolve in your mouth. But you don't want it dissolving into your food in the freezer. See, "Food - 3D Printing Industry." Or check out, "Food, Culinary, Edible | 3D Printer World."
To make edible wraps more water-resistant, lipids may be added to the wraps, such as vegetable oils. Lipids are naturally water repellent. Because the wraps can be made from off-grade produce, wraps could create a new market for farmers. Despite their many advantages, however, edible wraps are not a replacement for all other food wraps, says the news release. There's also the astronaut's food printed out in 3D. You may wish to check out, "NASA - 3D Printing: Food in Space." Or view the video, "Video: CES: First 3D printer to make food revealed - Telegraph." Then again, there's the website, "Edible Printing - inkedibles.com."