Limiting waste

There is another advantage to printers using cartridges of dry powder, requiring only added water and with a shelf-life of several years: ‘The technology also prevents food loss and wastage throughout the chain,’ says Maarten Schutyser, who is involved in fundamental research on food printing at WUR Food Process Engineering. This research looks principally at legume or grain-based mixtures.


3D food printing, printing chocolateOne final aspect is that of flexible, localised production. 3D printers may not supersede the economies of scale offered by bulk production in the food industry anytime soon, or replace home cooking using fresh ingredients. But it will give consumers more power. ‘Printing on demand offers greater control over products, such as their shape, specific ingredients and flavour,’ Noort explains. Companies can intensify consumer involvement in design, composition and production processes, and adjust volumes to suit demand, preventing wastage.

Digital Food Processing Initiative

WUR conducts fundamental and applied research on the three-dimensional printing of food products, in areas such as the behaviour of ingredients during printing and how to improve flavour.

To expedite and simplify the application of 3D food printing, three Dutch research institutions (Wageningen University & Research, TNO and Eindhoven University of Technology) have joined forces and set up an extensive 3D food printing research programme. It is called the Digital Food Processing Initiative. Ensuring that the world has enough healthy and nutritious food – even in 2040 – with as little impact on the environment as possible will require extensive investigation. 3D printing will give the food industry innovative opportunities to contribute to this process.

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