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#Food Industry

Design and sensory perception of multi-scale food structures fabricated by 3D printer

3D printing has boomed as a production technology in the manufacturing industry over the last decades. Additive manufacturing technique is a powerful technology which shows capability to promote product innovation and functionality. However most of the 3D food printers are only focused on building geometrically complex structures without nutritional value. Therefore aggregating value to the final product or design novel textures need to be addressed.

The possibility to control the microstructure of foods to create foods with excellent sensory properties using 3D food printing need to be explored. From a nutritional and sensorial perspective, by 3D printing of multiple components one can control the spatial distribution of ingredients in a product, thus give another dimension in the control of sensory properties.

For instance, previous research used model food constructed manually layer by layer[1]. Result shows that the spatial distribution of fat in foods can be used to enhance creaminess perception, which allows reducing fat content in foods while maintaining sensory perception. In our case, 3D food printing allows to control and engineer the length scale of the structural heterogeneity.

From a food structure perspective, flow-induced structuring can be achieved in ingredient formulations that contain incompatible polymers which exhibit complex phase separation behaviour upon dispersion[2]. The potential to use flow-induced structuring in 3D food printing has not been explored. We will employ such functional behaviour to induce micro-structure formation on top of the designed and fabricated macrostructures with 3D food printing.

Project aim

The overall objective of this project is to develop a scientific base to prepare 3D printed food structures at multiple length scales that have excellent sensory properties. We will employ the technique of fused deposition modelling (FDM). Multiscale structures will be prepared in two ways via 1) deposition of multiple liquid components and 2) flow-induced structuring where making use of the functional behaviour of ingredients.


  • United States
  • Food Process Engineering