About this Article
Written by: Rebecca Penso
Written on: October 5th, 2016
Tags: mechanical engineering, lifestyle
Thumbnail by: Illumin
About the Author
Rebecca Penso is a student at the University of Southern California intersted in 3D Printing.
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Volume XVII Issue III > The Future of Food: 3D Printing
3D printing is the process of building up a 3D object by depositing materials layer by layer onto the print bed of a 3D printer. The materials most commonly used to produce the 3D objects have been plastics and metals, but recently researchers, engineers, scientists and food connoisseurs have begun to experiment with edible materials. These professionals have started to create 3D printers for the sole purpose of printing food. This paper will discuss how the use of edible ingredients can unlock the creativity of the food industry, feed future astronauts in space, and soldiers on the battlefield, and solve some of the problems the world is currently facing. First, this paper will explain the engineering behind 3D printers. Then it will describe the current state of 3D food printing technology. Next it will discuss the goals for 3D food printing in the future, and lastly, it will conclude with the challenges and limitation of this new technology.


3D printing has become a recent phenomenon due to a 2012 market divergence [1]. With the touch of a button, one has the ability to create almost anything imaginable with a device approximately the size of a microwave. The history of 3D printing began when the first 3D printer was patented in the 1980’s. Throughout its short history, its main function has been for industrial applications using mainly plastic and metal materials [1]. However, in 2012, a team at Cornell University started to experiment with hydrocolloids – a gel-like substance infused with flavors and textures to replicate solid foods [2]. Other 3D food printer companies have ventured into creating desserts with edible ingredients such as chocolate, sugar and candy. And recently, 3D food printers have been able to use batters and dough to print foods such as pizza, pasta and cookies. Even though 3D printed food is still in its infancy -- constrained to ingredients that can be deposited out of a small nozzle -- there is a lot of hope and speculation about where this new phenomenon will take the food industry, including creating beautiful, intricate edible creations, feeding our astronauts in space and soldiers on the battlefield, customizing foods, and helping with world hunger and food sustainability.
The Engineering Behind 3D Printing
3D Printers have both software and hardware components that work together to create the 3D designs.