siliconANGLE » Print your food: 3D printing accelerating food product development

ford-candy-carWith one press of the button, and you can get a meal out of the printer, specifically tailored to your taste, and health condition. For now this is still very far from reality, but worldwide there are more and more companies and start-ups that get started with 3D printing of food.

It is already possible to create a three-dimensional shape with plastic, ceramic and even metal and the technology is quickly moving to edible products. Chocolate is a material which is particularly well suited for, and so you will see lots of images of 3D printed chocolates going around the Internet.

Some think that 3D printing could soon revolutionize the manufacturing sector, reducing the need for costly transport. NASA awarded a $125,000 grant to Anjan Contractor’s company, Systems & Materials Research Corporation, to create a prototype of its universal food synthesizer or a 3D food printer. Contractor is already working on a 3D printer that could create pizza as the food is easy to make.

Ford Mustang celebrates Valentine’s Day in a special way

For Valentine’s Day, Ford demonstrated its love affair with the candy Mustang created on 3D printer . Using chocolate as a raw material for their creation, pony cars were made by the company 3D Systems, and its edible branch Sugar Lab in Los Angeles.

The cocoa powder is used instead of sugar in order to produce a chocolate bar bearing the semblance of the car. The process began with a CAD model of the new Mustang. After the digital version of the vehicle is designed, layers and layers of chocolate powder then poured by water from inkjet heads. Once the 3D print model is over, the excess cocoa powder is brushed off from the product.

“3D printing is one of the hottest buzzwords in the news today and it’s great to see more consumers learning about the technology and its applications,” said Paul Susalla, Ford supervisor of 3D printing. “We wanted to create something fun to show that while 3D printing made these edible Mustangs, manufacturing-level 3D printing was used in the development of Ford’s all-new sports car.”

It is noteworthy that during the development of the new Mustang, Ford uses 3D printing for many prototype parts including interior components such as air vents, panels and dashboard applications, engine parts, the cylinder head, intake manifold and engine block for the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine. Exterior parts such as the fascia and grille, taillights and hood vents are also created using the technology.

hersheys3D printed Hershey’s chocolates

World famous chocolate makers the Hershey Company and 3D Systems last month announced a partnership to explore and develop innovative opportunities for using 3D printing technology to edible foods, including confectionery treats. As per the partnership, both the companies would create new form of candy using new technologies such as 3D printing.

The alliance aims to combine the experience in food manufacturing with Hershey’s potential and wealth of 3D Systems in 3D printing technology to provide new experiences to consumers.

3D systems successfully demonstrated its new 3D food printers at CES 2014. The new ChefJet and ChefJet Pro printer can use several flavors including chocolate, vanilla, mint, sour apple, cherry and watermelon to print cake toppers, centerpieces, garnishes and custom candies.

U.K. based Choc Edge offers a printer for above $4500 and a pack of syringes and chocolate that create what are essentially chocolate illustrations.

Fun food you can customize

MakerBot, the Brooklyn-based company behind the Thing-O-Matic ($1,100) 3-D printers, showcased their new Replicator printer model to make your own 3-dimensional loaf of bread sculpture complete with a brown crust encasing that white bread interior.

The printer under $2,000 can make Swiss cheese sculptures, print an omelet recipe on an egg, and make beer can openers, koozies and even bottles. The existing commercial applications for printable food items include complex sculptural cakes for weddings and special events that are made possible only with 3D printing, and customizable confections for bake shops and restaurants. 3D system says the printer can produce either sugar or milk chocolate confections, in different flavors that include cherry, mint and sour apple, and will be available to the market later this year.

The machine uses an ink jet print head that’s just like the one you would find in your desktop 2D printer. It spreads a very fine layer of sugar then paints water onto the surface of the sugar, and that water allows the sugar to recrystallize and harden to form complex geometries.

Natural Machine’s Foodini, which will launch later this year, can make many kinds of food including vegetarian nuggets made of chickpeas, bread crumbs, garlic, spices, olive oil, and salt. The machine has also printed quiche, hash browns, cookies, crackers, brownies, fish and chips.

Another 3D print vendor Cornell Creative built a printer called Machines Lab that can create a swirly, flower-shaped corn chip, using masa dough. It can also make hamburger patties with layers of ketchup and mustard.

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