(CNN) Researchers have been pushing the boundaries of 3D printing for decades, using the manufacturing technology to produce consumer goods such as furniture, shoes, human organs and even a rocket. But can industrial technology be applied to create a fully baked dessert that can be made in your own home kitchen?
Engineers at Columbia University determined to do just that. A team has created a seven-ingredient vegan cheesecake that’s been assembled and cooked entirely with a 3D printing machine and — in a new innovation — laser technology, according to Stady Published Tuesday in the NPJ Science of Food.
The researchers said the experiment was a step toward developing practical uses for 3D printing in mechanically assembled foods. The machinery needed to create and bake a 3D-printed dessert already exists—at least at Columbia Engineering’s New York lab—but There is not yet a set of cookbooks out there showing how this technique can be applied.
said study co-author Dr. Jonathan Plottinger, a mechanical engineer and postdoctoral researcher at Columbia Engineering’s Creative Machines Lab. “So there needs to be a place where you can download recipes, create your own, and get some inspiration for what you can actually do with this machine so it goes big.”
Plottinger acknowledged that the concept of 3D printing food could be off-putting to people.
“There is probably a stigma associated with this word[3D printing],” he told CNN. “Normally with printing you think of an industrial process.[But]it’s important to realize that this is no different than cooking normally except instead of chopping up the ingredients and everything like that, the machine basically mashes it up into a paste.”
What’s new here
Using 3D printing – also called additive manufacturing – to produce food is not a new concept. There is a company that uses technology to make them Vegetarian steakand pop-up restaurants serving produced meals entirely by 3D printers. One start Tri-D Sugars is made by, and produced by, the parent company machines to other businessmen.
Kyle von Haseln, CEO of Sugar Lab and Currant 3D said, in an email, “3D-printed food may be a downer for old food distribution where regional servers were online early on.”
A hat tip about Columbia Engineering’s research is that it uses lasers to cook food as it prints.
“Using a laser could be an important development,” von Haseln said, “because the heat it delivers can lead to a phase change from paste to solid. This phase change is critical to traditional baking, of course — think of making a soufflé.”
Making a slice of cake was the next step in a years-long effort by Plottinger and his colleagues to develop diverse foods with greater numbers of ingredients. His efforts began with learning how to bake several doughs using a laser and evolved into developing a machine that could handle 18 ingredients and print and bake food simultaneously.
The method is rigorous, he said, allowing chefs to use very precise amounts of ingredients that can be baked or heated differently from one moment to the next.
“It works great on a millimeter scale for printing,” he said, “and you can just control it with much more precision than you would with, say, an oven or stove-top.”
There’s also the possibility of making foods according to a person’s preference: “You can customize every little slice[of cheesecake]if you like.”
In this study, Plottinger and his colleagues experimented with a vegan cheesecake recipe, combining graham cracker paste with other ingredients to create a single, custom slice of candy in flavors like cherry, banana, peanut butter, and hazelnut. It took about 30 minutes to produce one slice.
As for taste, Plottinger likened the experience to Willy Wonka’s three-course gum—the one that tasted like soup, then roast beef and finally the raspberry candy that turns Violet Beauregard purple in Roald Dahl’s novel “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Plottinger said his food is his. The 3D printed delivers similar flashes of flavour.
“These waves get to your taste buds at different times,” he said. “And this is a really cool part of the printing process where you can locate the flavors in the cheesecake.”
The future of 3D printed food
If the concept of cooking with a laser is of concern, Blutinger added, it’s no different than heating food in a microwave or grilling a dish in the oven with infrared coils. Most of the ingredients his research team used were also bought off the shelf at a grocery store, with no special additives.
However, Plottinger said he also hopes to explore a nutritional study to analyze how laser cooking affects food at the molecular level. He said this could go a long way toward increasing the public’s comfort level with this new method.
Another reason 3D printing hasn’t been widely adopted in home kitchens is the price: These machines still don’t come cheap. The device that Plottinger and his colleagues assembled probably cost about $1,000, Plottinger said — not including the laser, which can run as high as $500 a pop. However, he notes that the price of lasers has dropped dramatically in recent years, thanks in part to advances in Blu-ray Disc players.
“I think the price point is getting to a point that makes more sense to a lot of people and to an actual commercial viability standpoint. I think in the next five years or so, you’ll start to see this technology,” he said. .
doctor. Xiang Zhang, a research scientist at MIT who works on 3D-printed medical devices, agreed that there is potential for 3D food printers to make the leap from a technology prototype to a widely adopted consumer product, following the blueprint for products like Keurig coffee makers. He said he was excited about the concept of a machine that could print food as it was being cooked.
He added that there were still “challenges to be resolved”. “You need to get the costs down to a level that is acceptable to most people. And then the food needs to taste acceptable… Just getting there might require a long lead time.”
Plottinger said there are incentives to adopt this method of cooking. He noted that 3D printing could allow people concerned about nutrition to produce food with an accurate number of calories or the content of carbohydrates, fats and sugar. He also suggests that this method can help people with eating conditions, such as dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing.
But Plottinger acknowledged that part of his obsession with applying 3D printing to the world of cooking stems from his instinctive desire as an engineer to innovate.
“I think there’s always been a desire to include software in previously analog technologies,” he said.
Want some cheesecake but can’t wait for the machine? Here you are From our friends at the Food Network.
“Infuriatingly humble analyst. Bacon maven. Proud food specialist. Certified reader. Avid writer. Zombie advocate. Incurable problem solver.”