At our group, we engineer methods for processing tasty and healthy foods. Additive assembly (3D food printing) is a major development in food assembly, but food materials used for printing vary in composition, rheological properties and nutritional values. Our research on 3D food printing aims at creating ways in which we can for example personalize foods. To further advance food printing, we conduct research to better understand how food materials react to process conditions; how food composition influences printing performance; and how the printing process can be controlled to achieve high product quality using sensors. In collaboration with our 4TU partners, we will develop technology for sensing and feedback to autonomously adapt to the complexity of various food materials and the constant change in material properties, allowing robust food product assembly. Another important aspect of our research on additive food assembly has to do with the interaction between technology and consumers. This interaction should allow us to incorporate feedback from consumers on product quality (i.e. sensorial properties) to our product and process designs. By combining our knowledge and experiences in both engineering and food science & technology, we will make the future of personalized foods possible!
3D Food Printing Reserach at FPE
Fig. 1 Examples of 3D-printed food structures using various food materials at FPE; the technology we used to create these structures is fused deposition modelling (i.e. extrusion-based 3D printing).
Towards Adaptive Extrusion-based 3D Printing of complex food systems
Most studies in extrusion-based food printing focuses on the printing of single-component or binary systems at room temperature. The printing of complex food systems has however not been intensively studied. Studying the printing of complex food systems could contribute to the future development of personalized nutrition. In addition, the current system shows low adaptability to the complexity in food systems. Improving the adaptability of the extrusion system will ensure precise dosing and smooth extrusion of complex food materials, which will ultimately benefit the stability and quality of printed foods. In this first project, we aim at developing an adaptive extrusion system for the printing of complex food materials with high accuracy and quality. Different actuation methods of extrusion and complex model food systems will be investigated. Sensors will be incorporated in the extrusion system to collect data for the evaluation of extrusion performance. A data-driven model will be developed to link the output printing quality to input parameters such as printing conditions and properties of food materials. The knowledge gained in this study will help to avoid trial-and-error approaches for formulation development and process optimization in extrusion-based food printing.