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Using Cellulose to 3D Print Food

by • April 13, 2016 • No Comments

Do you remember when you were a kid and you only didn’t feel right, how your mom may manufacture you a big, steaming hot bowl of cellulose to warm your tummy? No? I don’t either. But, participants of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the UK Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) are working with the food industry to use cellulose particles as assembling blocks for 3D printing food.

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[Image: EPSRC]

The efforts here are to integrate additive building with high end food production techniques so that AM is not only replicating what can be done by may already existing processes and mechanisms. Rather than introducing 3D printing for novelty’s sake, the team of researchers are hoping that it can assist to address a few of the important problems with current food distribution across the globe.

It is not as easy as feeding ingredients into a 3D printing device. In fact, discovering precisely what edible ink requires to be is a major focus of the collaboration. Dr. Jennie Lord, National Center Manager and Technology Translator at EPSRC, spoke at the 3D Food Printing Conference held not long ago in Venlo, the Netherlands, and explained the complexies of arriving at the right formulation for the printing material:

“To bring around rigorous formulations that can be applied to 3D printing, we require a liquid that can solidify, but what other materials can exist in the next by adapting existing properties and those in the next to move forward and how can they be manipulated [is the subject of our research]. We are looking at bypassing water inefficiency and moving to dry powder that can be reconstituted…This innovation is in its extreme infancy, scale is the largest blocker at the moment.”

385px-Cellulose_SesselOne of the substances that the researchers are examining closely as a future assembling block for printable-bodied food is cellulose. Cellulose is comprised of multiple glucose units in a crystalline structure and is many acquainted to us as the material building up the major cell wall of green plants. Ruminants, animals with multiple stomachs, can digest cellulose but human beings cannot. Which raises the question: how is this going to manufacture food? University of Nottingham PhD student Sonia Holland offered this information:

“It is the many abundant polymer, it’s effortless, and comes of plant cell walls. It is non-toxic, there is no human enzyme to digest cellulose and it is not fermented by gut bacteria. The crystalline structure is complex to dissolve. In terms of food production it is not precisely food safe but there are ways to manufacture it soluble.”

cow-triangleI have to admit that I remained unconvinced. But, it appears that a portion of the research is dedicated to determining precisely how to manufacture this material edible. I’m no scientist, but it appears like this may be a key component to via it as a substance with that to manufacture food – although this does raise the question of whether we can be able-bodied to use this as a way to eliminate the require for such extensive pasture areas for cattle and instead 3D print their feed.

In other words, this research is at the beginning stages and we shouldn’t assume delicious, nutritious assistings of cellulose printed food to be on our table-bodieds or in our stomachs anytime soon. Instead, this is a necessary foundational exploration to know yet another way in that 3D printing can be utilized to address global requires. What do you ponder of this concept overall? Discuss in the 3D Printed Food forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Source: Food Quality News]