Food 3D printing has had a round of hype around 2014. A European project has received a lot of attention because of its work in food manufacturing. It is the PERFORMANCE project, which started in January 2012 and lasted for three years. , They seek to develop food 3D printing technology to serve one in five Europeans suffering from chewing and swallowing difficulties.
Although this project is a unique project, the final result of PERFORMANCE seems to have been unclear. For more information, we contacted Biozoon’s owner Matthias Kück and FoodJet’s director Pascal de Grood, one of the project’s main industrial partners.
From the outside, the cooperation between Biozoon and FoodJet seems to be the best choice to solve the swallowing problem of more than 10 million elderly people in Europe. On the one hand, Biozoon is a professional food company that mainly produces products for molecular stomach medicine, elderly care and sports drinks and gels. These include texture agents used to make soft foods more attractive to nursing home residents. FoodJet is a manufacturer of large-scale industrial food-jet systems used to decorate and fill all kinds of food, from frosting on donuts to sauces on pizza.
In order to achieve the goal of its industrial food 3D printing technology, Biozoon has developed a specific food powder formulation for solidifying meat puree. Kück explained that the challenge is to create a gelling agent that starts from the time the liquid food leaves the printhead and falls on the printing plate, and solidifies within three seconds before the subsequent layers are printed.
“If it sets too fast, it will have the effect of layering the dough. If it is too slow, the second layer will destroy the first layer,” Kück said.
For its part, FoodJet has been doing something similar to food 3D printing as early as 2004 or 2005, but in order to avoid confusing its industrial-scale technology with the small chocolate 3D printers on the market, it chose to disproportionately It is a “food 3D printer”. The process looks like a huge inkjet printer, where the ink has been replaced by viscous, edible ingredients.
Other large-scale food deposition processes are usually a single pass under the deposition head, while FoodJet can print several layers on it, with many colors and high precision. Although this gives the company an advantage in the industrial food business, it is still difficult to print a large number of layers.
In addition to the problem of stacking many layers, the PERFORMANCE team also strives to overcome the organic nature of food.
The printing process relies on digital files, but Kück pointed out, “Food is a natural product, it is never homogeneous. Whether a broccoli comes from Germany, Italy or Poland, we will encounter differences in the printing process In addition, quality also plays a role: the water content of low-priced frozen vegetables is much higher than that of organic-quality foods. “
The partners did create an industrial prototype, but in the end it was decided that the technology had not yet reached the scale of industrialization and no business case could be proposed for further development.
De Grood said: “Unfortunately, this business model has not really been translated into a business case. The special machine developed by FoodJet has a relatively low production capacity and the added value of the products produced is relatively low.”
Nonetheless, the PERFORMANCE project did provide a reference for some later work. For example, Prtin2Taste GmbH was spun off to commercialize small food extrusion 3D printers under the Procusini brand. At the same time, FoodJet has commercialized a food 3D printing system specifically for industrial-scale chocolate 3D printing. We will follow up on FoodJet’s unique chocolate printing technology in a follow-up article.
Foods that are easy to digest for the elderly may not be far away, but technology has already emerged. At the same time, Biozoon is still producing texture agents for solidified liquefied foods, and those who like sweets may be able to order customized 3D printed chocolates in the next few years.
Compiled from: 3dprint