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Will 3D printed food be the best thing since sliced bread?

Printed food could become the best thing since sliced bread, thanks to research from a Gloucestershire-based industry specialist.

Campden BRI have begun a research project to evaluate how 3D-printing could benefit the food industry.

The use of 3D-printing for food is at the cutting edge of the market with new printers becoming available that can be used for various food materials.

Gael Delamare is leading the Campden BRI 3D food printing research

These are typically paste-type foods, such as chocolate, purees and pastry batters that can be formed into shapes and structures that can't be achieved by traditional techniques.

And Campden BRI's team are looking into every possibility to see what is capable of being rolled out into mass production, with ingredient scientist Gael Delamare leading the way.

"There have been major steps forward in 3D-printing in recent years and it has made a huge difference to many industries," he said.

"However, applying the technology to the food sector isn't straightforward.

"There are many factors to consider such as shelf-life, microbiological contamination, printing temperature, textures, rheology and ultimately whether different foodstuffs even lend themselves to being printed.

"All of these issues need to be catered for in order to meet the expectations of the consumer and to do so safely."

The project aims to provide an objective and independent evaluation of the capabilities and limitations of 3D-printing technology through practical trials on a wide range of food materials.

The team are also looking at the potential the technology gives for personalised nutrition and to meet dietary requirements, such as fortifying foods with vitamin D.

Food could potentially be personalised further for specific deficiencies including anaemia, lack of essential fatty acids and dietary fibre.

The project will also use an X-ray micro-CT scanner to scan simple and complex designs to explore the scope of the possible structures and shapes that could be replicated by printing food

Delamare added: "Food waste could also be reduced as perishable products, which would otherwise decline in quality, could be printed on demand.

"The project will explore the challenges and potential of its application in the food industry.

"We'll be reviewing the 3D-printing technologies, conducting practical trials and developing new personalised products in terms of shape, flavour, colour and nutrition."

Campden BRI are hosting a seminar on their research in June as part of the project. The seminar takes place on Thursday, June 20 at Campden BRI's headquarters near Chipping Campden.

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