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KU Leuven develops prototype 3D printer using pectin gel for candy – ConfectioneryNews.com

by • April 16, 2016 • No Comments

Speaking at the 3D Food Printing Conference, in Venlo, the Netherlands, Valerie Vancauwenberghe, PhD student, KU Leuven, MeBioS division, said she looked at 3D printing for candy as part of a project on new methods to print 3D cellular plant tissues for new food making.
Cell walls of plants
Pectin is a naturally-occurring thickening agent most frequently introduced to jams, jellies and sweets to assist them gel and thicken. It is a carbohydrate (a polysaccharide) discovered in and around the cell walls of plants.
“Pectin is an edible gel that can be utilized in a wide range of products, with a variable sweetness, and it is stable adequate to print, due to the duration of the material,” said Vancauwenberghe.
“We utilized a particular type of pectin, called low-methoxylated pectin, in trials creating shapes much like to Gummie Bear sweets, looking at the characteristic of those printed objects and via compression tests to get information of its mechanical properties and rupture stress.”
She introduced, depending on the composition, the visual aspect of the material can be really various, it can be transparent or else it can disperse during the printing system, that means it is not well optimized for that kind of printing technique.
“At KU Leuven we created a prototype printing device to print material at room temperature such as pectin gel,” said Vancauwenberghe.

“If we wanted to manufacture candy it may be informative to see how much sugar we may add without changing the printability of the product. We may require to manufacture the material extrudable at room temperature.”
Not all material is suitable for 3D printing
All fruit has pectin in it, but the amount varies widely, according to Vancauwenberghe. She said it is not always suitable for 3D printing for the reason it is either lacking in iron or calcium for viscosity.
For a product to store its shape, the PhD student tried various concentrations of ingredients to find a material with preferably edible food properties, with the same texture as fruit or vegetable.
“The porosity can be regulated with the forming agent, so during printing we won’t lose that foamy structure and the printing does not alter due to the availability of air bubbles,” she introduced.
Apples and oranges contain the most pectin, and the pectin of both fruits is utilized commercially to thicken most various types of products.
Pectin generally requires a high sugar content and a few acid, such as citric acid, to activate, and a few commercially on the market pectins include citric acid as an ingredient.


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