3d printing technology is at a juncture in time where every industry is trying to explore the possibilities of its implementations. Due to the versatile nature of 3d printers most industries have already understood the advantages of 3d printing and have successfully mastered the skills to use it. 3d printers are now being used to make prosthetics, Artifacts, Prototypes, selfies and many more things, so how could the Food Industry be left behind. In the last year alone, we have seen many companies making Chocolate and Cookie printers. A company called Foodini was so optimistic about the 3d printed Food industry that they launched a Food Grade Commercial printer in the open market.
One of the biggest names in the Chocolate industry Hershey made a Chocolate printer and named it CocoJet. The printer was developed in partnership with 3D Systems, this Printer can dish out on-demand, personalized chocolate at the click of a button.The Chinese Government has already developed a Food 3d printer which is now installed on large Navy ships and can make Food on board; this saves the trouble of carrying finished Food on long journeys. XYZPrintingCompany which kind of revolutionized the Desktop FDM 3d printing industry by providing cheap, but robust 3d printers launched a 3d Food printer in January and displayed its skills by printing pancakes during the TCT Asia show.
If we look at some recent developments in the Food 3d printing, we get the feeling that we might soon be dished out something made out of the printer, however that’s not the case. A lot of development needs to be done, and I firmly believe the advancements would not come from big companies. It has to be in sync with the open source culture the 3d printing industry depends upon. A Student from National University of Singapore - Daniel Peng Zhuo is out to do exactly what I think is the right approach for the 3d printing Food Industry.
The saying “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”, seems befitting for Daniel Peng Zhuo Food 3d Printer. It may be in a very crude state right now, but we see a huge potential for such kind of machines. The Food printer works on the principles of FDM technology where raw material is layered one above the other to make something. With a little hack to the extrusion system Mr. Zhuo was able to convert an ordinary Desktop FDM 3d printer into a Food Printing Machine.
Mr. Zhuo Explains “Basically, it starts with food modeling, preparation materials, printing, and baking. It is actually a cookie printer, although we managed to print mashed potato, chocolate cream and other foods. Currently, the parameters for the cookie dough have been scientifically optimized.” Adding more about his inspiration to build such printer he said “ There are a few reasons why we chose food application, but the major reason should be the advantages in mass customization brought by 3D printing technology that can benefit the personalized food processing industry. Also, the customization in nutrition to improve the health and well-being is important to us. Food can be something that people are personalizing every day”.
Mr. Zhuo’s Food 3d Printer can print palm-sized cookie within 3 to 4 minutes, and can stack up 11 or 12 layers without the entire cookie collapsing. It has a Build base of 15 cm x 15 cm and a food extruding nozzle of 1.5 mm. The 3d Printer needs a Laptop or a computer as it does not have a User Interface of its own. Currently, all the dough based food product has to be removed from the build plate and put into the oven for baking. Zhuo is very optimistic that they will one day find an on-site heating technology to save the post processing of the 3d printed food products.
He said there is a difference between being optimist or a fool he added "A few food printers are coming out soon around the world this year. Let us see how good their sales will be. Anyway, a good product should really solve some problems. It cannot be something fanciful and people just buy it out of curiosity,". He prefers to wait and watch to see where the industry is headed for, and if people would like a Printer making food for them. We wish him all the luck for the future.