Design and sensory perception of multi-scale food structures fabricated by 3D printing
3D Food printing is a rapidly emerging research area with much attention in the media and from consumers. Current technologies however only allow its use as small-scale ‘gimmick’: the use of ingredients is limited, one cannot yet create a multiscale food structure as is present in natural foods, and its use of energy and other resources per kg product is still prohibitive for larger-scale use. This is why it holds great potential as method for point-of-sale assembly, which can strongly reduce the amount of waste in the chain close to the consumer, which ranges from around 30% in Europe, to 50% in the United States. The focus of this PhD project is to employ food printing techniques to develop customised healthy foods that have excellent sensorial properties and thereby could compete with mass-produced traditional foods.
The overall objective of this PhD project is to develop a scientific base to prepare printed food structures that have excellent sensorial properties with focus on structure formation at multiple length scales. Such printed products hold great potential for making foods that are more healthy while still have an excellent taste and for point-of-sale assembly, which can strongly reduce the amount of waste in the chain, which ranges from around 30% in Europe, to 50% in the United States. 3D printing to this end can accelerate making healthy foods and making the food production chain more sustainable, which aligns with MMIPs D2 & D4.
Over the last decade, additive manufacturing also known as 3D printing has boomed as a production technology in the manufacturing industry. More recently, researchers started experimenting with 3D printing of foods, e.g. making simple objects from icing materials, Nutella, and chocolate. The future promise of 3D food printing is that the technology can make a wide range of complex foods that addresses the needs and preferences of modern consumers. Moreover, with on-demand and decentralized food production less waste may be generated making 3D printing a flexible and environmentally friendly technique. Finally, 3D food printing may also be used as an efficient prototyping tool to facilitate new product development and study ingredient functionality. Hitherto, 3D food printing focused entirely on macroscopic food appearance, i.e. the creation of appealing macroscopic food structures by deposition of one or multiple materials following a computer model. The possibility to control the microstructure of foods to create foods with excellent sensory properties using 3D food printing has not yet been explored and could potentially deliver healthier foods that are still indulging.
Anticipated results for this project:
The project consists of 5 work packages that are described and visualised below. WP1 till WP4 will deliver at least 4 scientific publications. WP1 till WP4 involve fundamental research (FO), while WP5 is a combination of fundamental and industrial research via the in-kind contributions of the partners (FO/IO).
1) Development of relationships between ingredient functionality and required functionality in 3D printing. (1st paper - published)
2) Insights in ingredient functionality and dispensing processes related to creation of distributed properties (2nd paper - published)
3) Insights in possibilities of 3D printing to design and create food microstructures (3rd paper - data collected)
4) Knowledge of relationships between food structures and sensory properties (4th paper – data mostly collected)
5) Evaluation on how 3D printing can contribute to a more sustainable food production chain via sustainability analyses. (To be completed still - General Discussion)
Beyond the approach that is described here, also the interaction with the two PhD projects in Eindhoven contributes to the effective development of a solid scientific base for 3D food printing. Twice a year presentations are held in a joint meeting
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