3D food printing

Innovation in food and agriculture has come a long way in the past century, resulting in the production of more food than ever before. However, the food industry is facing new challenges due to rapid societal changes: in 2040 there will be 9 billion people to feed; there is an increasing demand for personalized, nutritious, and healthy food; and food production should be done in an affordable way without harming the environment. Radical innovations are required to meet the demands of the near future. 3D printing provides the food industry the opportunity to adapt and change their production processes.

  • 3D Food Printing

3D food printing research program

In order to accelerate and facilitate the application of 3D food printing, three Dutch research organizations, TNO, Wageningen University & Research and Eindhoven University of Technology, have joined forces to develop a comprehensive 3D food printing research program. At Wageningen Food & Biobased Research we wish to carry out more research into the waste we generate as a society, studying how we can separate that waste and process it into fractions for the production of new materials and products as well as possible. In doing so we can show companies, governments and the general public that waste can indeed be a valuable resource for performance materials.

Innovative manufacturing process

3D food printing is an innovative manufacturing process. A complete 3D object is built up layer by layer, based on a 3D computer design, and without the use of moulds or assembly steps. 3D printing was initially used in the manufacturing industry, where materials like metals and plastics were used. However, over the past years a much wider range of printable materials and thus applications have emerged. Over the last years Wageningen Food & Biobased Research and TNO has been jointly developing and applying 3D printing technologies in food production. In multiple international research projects we have shown great potential for the layer wise building of food products. The 3D food products are well-structured and based on multiple materials by using different types of base ingredients. 3D printing has the unique capability to use precise amounts of materials in very specific 3D locations. It gives food manufacturers the opportunity to make improved or even completely new food products with novel shapes, textures, structures, and flavours. Based on our knowledge 3D food printing, currently developed applications are being implemented in supermarkets and out-of-home settings. Supermarkets are testing the 3D printing of customized cakes and candies, and various start-up companies have been established that either sell 3D food printers or offer 3D printed pasta, candy and chocolate.