The Engineering Behind 3D Printing
3D Printers have both software and hardware components that work together to create the 3D designs.
The Print Bed:
In order for the gantries to create 3D designs, they are equipped with stepper motors that allow them to make precise movements. The stepper motors are controlled by digital pulses, in which “each pulse only moves the motor a small fraction of a full rotation”. These small movements enable the gantries to create intricate and detailed 3D designs .
The Printing Head:
The World of 3D Printed Food
Printing food is still in its infancy, constrained to ingredients that can be deposited out of the small nozzles. Even though there are limitations to this process, this has not stopped professionals from venturing into this new territory and creating 3D printers for the sole purpose of printing food. Through the use of ingredients such as hydrocolloids, chocolate, sugar, batter and dough, these 3D printers have been able to mimic solid foods and help professionals unlock their creative potential. Despite the fact that 3D food printers have yet to hit the commercial market, this technology will impact the way the world views and eats food.
Sugar, Chocolate, and Candy
There are a number of 3D food printers that have been developed to create intricate sweets with ingredients such as sugar, chocolate and candy. Fig. 3 is an example of a detailed design made with a 3D printer and sugar . The materials start out liquid and as they are extruded layer-by-layer onto the print bed, they begin to harden, building a stable 3D design . Similar to the team at Cornell, these 3D printer inventers hope to unlock the imaginations of culinary professionals . This technology allows bakers to create detailed cake toppers or restaurateurs to craft colorful cocktail decorations. One company has partnered with the Culinary Institute of America to provide students and teachers the opportunity to experiment with this new technology to incorporate it in future culinary creations.  These 3D printers also aim to appeal to a mass consumer base by being user-friendly. One 3D printer, which is expected to be commercially available in the second half of 2015, comes with specialized software that makes it easier for users to design a 3D creation .
The Hope for the Future
Similarly to NASA, the U.S. Army is looking to 3D printed food technologies to feed their soldiers on the battlefield. Lauren Oleksyk, a food technologist at the Army’s Natick Research center, explained that their vision is to tailor the 3D printed food to the nutritional needs of individual soldiers . Their goal is to equip soldiers with head-to-toe sensors that can relay information to 3D printers. The 3D printers would then produce personalized meals for the soldiers depending on their body’s dietary needs . For example, the sensor would detect that a specific soldier is low in vitamin B. The 3D printer will receive this information, and then create a vitamin B rich meal for that individual soldier. Another advantage of 3D printing technology is that the food cartridges do not need to be refrigerated. This provides a crucial benefit to soldiers on the battlefield .
Customization of Your Food
World Hunger and Sustainable food
Challenges and Limitations
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