According to Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, the 3D printing procedure involves building a three-dimensional material from a drawing sample designed by a computer program that is usually called Computer-aided design (CAD) models. Similarly, food printing is done by successive addition of materials one layer after the other by the computer, in what is commonly referred to as additive manufacturing. In food printing, the food material is added in the form of pastes. Pastes can be food materials like ingredients that are based on sugar or chocolate.
3Dfoodprinting.com, an online 3D printing site, submitted that the first recognized 3D printer that could print food was first created in Cornell University in 2005. It was named fablab@Home and was developed by Hod Lipson and his partners. Since then the technology has been adopted in different parts of the world due to the opportunities and advantages it has over conventional food production methods. As with every emerging technology, it has disrupted food production methods.
According to 3Dprint.com, there are various methods of printing food in 3D. These methods are:
- The Extrusion-based 3D printing: It involves the production of food in 3D by forcing food materials in the form of a semi-liquid paste through the specially shaped nozzle of the 3D printer. Foods made this way are Dough, meat paste, and cheese.
- The Inkjet 3D printing method: They are usually used in surface filling on desserts or decorations on cookies, pizzas, or cakes. There are two types of inkjet 3D printing which are the drop-on-demand method and the continuous jet method.
- The Binder jetting method: Which involves the use of food materials with low viscosity and having ink density and surface tension. These are suitable properties for the food materials that are used for this method.
Advantages of the technology for 3D food printing
The technology behind 3D food printing has been widely received by food enthusiasts across the world because it has made possible so many hitherto impossible things.
1 Raw materials for the printing of food in 3D are readily available and accessible.
2 With 3D food printing technology, food production is fast and seamless.
3 According to techrepublic.com, the 3D food printer can produce intricate food shapes and achieve some scale of precision which the human hand is unable to achieve. This is a selling point for many restaurants as they use this unique advantage to impress their customers during food presentation.
4 The technology makes it possible for food to be designed and subsequently developed so as to meet the needs of individuals in terms of health conditions and requirements for physical activities by effectively and digitally managing the quantity and nutritional quality of the food.
5 According to edutechwiki, 3D food printing makes the production of food that is needed in difficult circumstance effortless. The food which needs special properties which differ from that of everyday food. For instance, food for Astronauts, airplane passengers, military personnel, and so on.
6 The technology also works with a reduction in waste output and enhances environmental sustainability in a way that is not common to conventional food production methods.
7 3D food printing is healthy and eco-friendly since it transforms different ingredients like algae-based proteins, leaves from beets or rather insects into tasty food materials. It can also be used to modify food materials according to the preferences and needs of different people.
8 The technology is fully automated to do repetitive work at a large scale, thereby freeing up the cook to attend to other kitchen tasks.
9 3D technology reduces food wastage as it allows food materials which are hitherto ugly and unsightly are reproduced with the help of this technology into more appealing and appetizing shapes.
10 3D printing technology uses animal proteins that are grown in the laboratory or proteins from vegetables to develop meat substitutes which have high nutritional content and is healthy for consumption.
Disadvantages of the technology used for 3D food printing
Just like every other technology, what has its merits can also have its demerits as well. The following are the disadvantages of 3D food printing technology.
1 According to research conducted by Loughborough University, 3D printing technology consumes roughly between 50 and 100 times more energy than what is required for conventional food production methods.
2 The equipment used in this type of food production method are costly. According to techspirited.com, the printers needed for commercial production of food in this manner are high-priced coming in at several thousand dollars. Due to its high cost, 3D printing is limited to professionals only. Foodini created by Natural machine, which is one of the most popular printers around retails at $4,000. This is relatively expensive when compared to the equipment used in conventional cooking.
3 3D printing technology may face stiff scrutiny after a man efficaciously printed a gun in 3D and shot it. This may cause some skepticism about this technology for a long time to come.
4 The materials produced with 3D food printing technology are rather delicate, which means that they are often damaged during handling and post-processing of the food.
5 It is not user-friendly. The technology for 3D food printing uses power of a high-voltage, it comes with specialized equipment, and also, it has parts that make it hard to manage or even use.
6 One of the most prevalent and common disadvantages of 3D printing is counterfeiting. Anybody with the blueprint of a product can quickly forge the products. Violations of patents will be on the increase and as well the identification of items that are counterfeited will not be possible. As the technology of 3D printing evolves, people with copyrights as well as patents will find it difficult to protect their rights. Also, companies that manufacture unique products will be considerably affected.