Pectin gel based 3D printed candy by KU Leuven

The 3D printing technology has influenced many fields from medicine to aerospace, fashion and design and most importantly the food industry in order to prevent food wastage. Most recently a number of makers and designers are collaborating with chefs and food connoisseurs to develop variety of 3D printers and other related technologies to make 3D printed food a commercially appealing and feasible way of eating food. In Venlo, Netherlands the 3D printing food Conference had many innovations in the appetizing field of 3D printed food industry that were new and tempting. At the conference the Dutch startup byFlow fed six guests an delightful five-course 3D printed meal. Further a Belgian researcher has now announced a new prototype of a 3D food printer that uses pectin gel in manufacturing candies.

Valérie graduated with a degree in M.Sc in chemical and material engineering from the Free University of Brussels (ULB). Valérie Vancauwenberghe who is a Phd candidate at the KU Leuven’s Mebio S division Belgium, announced the emergence of the 3D printed confectioner. She has dedicated all her researches to inculcate new methods of 3D printing of artificial cellular plant tissues using isolated plant cells as bio-ink-material which includes the additive manufacturing of gluey candy. In the process of her innovative research she found pectin that is a naturally occurring binding agent that is derived from primary cell walls of fruits. Pectin was initially used to thicken jams and jellies and after the research she found that it can also be used in the 3D printing of candy. The 3D printer prototype that is able to manufacture addtitive pectin based sweets is still in the development stage.

3D printed candy

In the process of making the candy Vancauwenberghe used low-meth-oxylated pectin to render shapes that were similar to gummy bears and to work out various properties like rupture stress and consistency of the ingredient. According to the research process she says that various properties of pectin that can be obtained by using it different concentrations at the same time varying the concentrations of the sugar syrup. Also the bubbles can be trapped and stabilized with use of a significant protein and can be used to make a layer that is absorptive for the 3D printed edibles. This promising edible ink would give the opportunity to future customers to design in 3-D their candy with desired texture according to their personal dietary requirements.

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.”

3D printed candy

Vancauwenberghe’s research couf turn out to be a step of major advancement of 3D printed treats because firstly it wipes off the need for gelatin in gummy candies and also makes the pectin based 3D printed candy suitable for dietary requirements. Secondly it can also allow the customers to get their own customized 3D printed candy according to their desired texture and design.

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