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Tech and demand drive advances in 3D food printing

Article-Tech and demand drive advances in 3D food printing

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Technological advancements in the food & beverage sector and the increasing demand for customised food products among the North American consumers propel the 3D food printers market to grow at a substantial CAGR.

The 3D food printers market is dominated by North America, which is projected to grow at a CAGR of 20% from 2019 to 2025, followed by the European and Asia Pacific regions, according to MarketsandMarkets.

Where's the demand?

The rising consumer demand for customised and personalised food products is boosting the global demand for 3D printers. Global manufacturers are, therefore, launching innovative 3D food printers for application in indulgence products such as chocolates, confectionery, and pancakes, and this is increasing the demand for 3D food printers at commercial and domestic levels globally.

Another driver of the 3D food printers market is the underlying printing technology, which is still emerging as far as the processed food sector is concerned. The stringent quality assurance and precise nutritional control achieved by the use of 3D food printing is in itself a revolutionary concept. The customised nutritional content can now be optimised on the basis of the biometric and genomic data, thus providing enhanced personalisation for everyday food items.

Rising benefits and applications

The use of 3D food printers offers a range of benefits as they can help convert alternative ingredients such as proteins from algae, beet leaves, or insects into tasty food products. 3D food printers also open the door to food customisation to cater to specific individual needs and preferences.

3D printers are becoming increasing popular not only at a commercial scale but also for personal use. Most 3D food printers use extrusion 3D printing technology, much like traditional FFF (FDM) 3D printers using paste-type ingredients to print the food layer after layer generally through a syringe-like extruder. Most 3D food printers are deposition printers; it means they deposit layers of raw materials in a process known as additive manufacturing. A newer category of 3D printers, known as binding printers, hold materials together with a kind of edible cement. The latest generation of 3D food printers combine nozzles, powdered materials, lasers, and robotic arms to make sugar sculptures, patterned chocolate, and latticed pastry.

Cutting-edge food printers use fresh ingredients, which are loaded into stainless steel capsules to make foods like pizzas, stuffed pasta, quiche, and brownies.

The most common ingredients for 3D printers include chocolate, pancake batter, and cream, although there are many other possibilities. 3D food printers are also beginning to breach into the gourmet space, including coffee printing, food ornaments, and food molds.

A sustainable opportunity

With the global population set to reach 9 billion by 2050—at which point the agricultural systems will be unable to supply food to everyone, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization—combating food waste could help sustainability. This is where there's an opportunity for 3D food printers, as they could minimise waste by using cartridges of hydrocolloids—substances that form gels with water. They could also use unpalatable but plentiful ingredients such as algae, duckweed, and grass, to form a base for familiar dishes. 3D food printing technology is expected to become an integral part of the HoReCa industry in the years to come.