The use of 3D printers has the potential to revolutionise the way food is manufactured within the next 10 to 20 years, impacting everything from how military personnel get food on the battlefield to how long it takes to get a meal from the computer to your table.
The price of 3D printers has been steadily declining — from more than $500,000 in the 1980s to less than $1000 today for a personal-sized device — making them increasingly available to consumers and manufacturers. Although they are not widely used in food manufacturing yet, that availability is fuelling research into how they can be used to customise foods or speed up delivery of food to consumers.
“No matter what field you are in, this technology will worm its way in,” said Hod Lipson, PhD, a professor of engineering at Columbia University and a co-author of the book Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing. “The technology is getting faster, cheaper and better by the minute. Food printing could be the killer app for 3D printing.”
3D printing is a good fit for the food industry because it allows manufacturers to bring complexity and variety to consumers at a low cost. Traditional manufacturing is built on mass production of the same item, but with a 3D printer, it takes as much time and money to produce a complex, customised product that appeals to one person as it does to make a simple, routine product that would be appealing to a large group.Read more
Source: foodprocessing.com.au; image: sheknows.com