Newsletter SeafarersOctober 21, 2020
The Butterfly Effect of COVID-19 on the Supply ChainMarch 1, 2021
3D food printing: From imagination to reality
What used to be a science-fiction fantasy a few years back, now becomes a reality. 3D food printing technology aims in revolutionizing the food innovation and production through creativity, customizability, and sustainability.
What is food 3D printing?
3D food printing is the process of manufacturing food products using a variety of additive manufacturing techniques (1). There are different types of 3D printers out in the market but the most advanced are the ones which have pre-loaded recipes and allow the user to remotely design the food on a computer. The food can be customized either in shape, colour, texture, flavour or nutrition according to the needs and taste of the user.
Manufacturers and enterprises from different industries such as Aerospace, Automotive, Packaging, and Food are already testing and leveraging the benefits of this technology. A German nursing home is already making 3D printed mashed food products which are served to elderly people facing difficulties in chewing (2).
NASA who was doing a research on how 3D printing could be used to make food, is now ready to launch into space the first 3DChef robot who will be making 3D printing pizzas for the astronauts (3).
The 3D food printing market is estimated to reach $525.6 million by 2023 while the food tech industry around $250 billion by 2022, according to ‘Research and Markets’ (4).
The world’s population is growing, and experts believe that current food supplies will not be able to supply the population in the future, thus, investing in sustainable food sources will be critical.
The Future of 3D Printing in the food industry
Some of the ways in which 3D printing will affect the future of the food industry include:
- The management of inventory for food manufacturers will become easier and cheaper as they would be able to manufacture food based on demand.
- Raw materials are expensive and represent a large fraction of the cost for food manufacturers. 3D printed food will allow them to reduce costs while offering more sustainable food.
- It allows for better management of resources thus reducing wastage of food products.
- It can boost food innovation and cooking creativity so chefs and cooks will be able to create beautiful looking food in a variety of shapes and colours.
- Manufacturers will print only 3D parts on-demand and as they are needed which in return will help companies to reduce inventory and storage costs (5).
The impact of 3D printed food on health
Is it safe to eat 3D printed food?
3D food printers are using fresh ingredients and allow stricter control over food portion sizes thereby reducing overconsumption. 3D printed food is just typical eatable ingredients processed in such a way that they can be extruded through a nozzle onto a surface.
The 3D printers can even control the preservatives, seasonings and other chemicals added to the food, which leads to a healthier meal plan. Also, it controls the
3D food printing can also be healthy and good for the environment as it can help to convert alternative ingredients such as proteins from algae, beet leaves, or insects into tasty products. It also offers food customization so it can be customised to needs and preferences of the individuals which can help to the prevention of diseases. Eating nutritious food is paramount to living a healthy life.
With the drive for product customization, sustainability, and time savings, this technology can change how people buy food and how food is made thus it can significantly change the process of food manufacturing and the resulting supply chain.
There is really no limit to the scope and the future of the 3D printing industry. Very soon, you might be eating pastas, pizzas, brownies or quiche all printed from a 3D food printer.