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Additive manufacturing or what is now popularly known as 3D printing has seen tremendous growth in the tech sector over the past few years. There is a thriving community - from individual entrepreneurs to big businesses - who are exploring the potential of 3D printing. From concept cars to guns, children's toys, prosthetics, houses, etc. the number of products being 3D printed has multiplied at an alarming rate.

The concept of 3D printing is very straightforward, wherein a 3D printer acts in the capacity of an industrial robot, and helps to create models which are either designed by using CAD (Computer Aided Design) or via 3D scanner. 3D printed objects can not only be of any shape or geometry, but, if used with a well-calibrated printer, can be incredibly close to its design source while being cost-effective.

3D Printing - Impact on Food Industry

With its new found popularity and the potential to disrupt a variety of industries, 3D printing is now also finding vast acceptance in the food industry. The fundamental thought behind 3D printed food is the immense possibility of a tabletop 3d printer which can print affordable and tasty meals without an extensive need of cooking knowledge. Although in its nascent phase, 3D printing is poised to change the future of the food industry, and its impact is already being felt on a global scale.

  • Impact on Health

    Many innovators in the 3d printing industry have come up with food printers that enable us to eat healthy and nutritious food more regularly. 3D food printers not only use fresh ingredients for a variety of recipes, but also allow stricter control over food portion sizes, thereby reducing overconsumption. Another advantage of these printers is that you can even regulate preservatives, additives and other chemicals added to your food, thereby leading to a healthier meal plan. Some of the examples of such 3D food printers include -

    • Foodini, developed by natural machines is a 3D printer which allows you to browse recipes using your smartphone, and program the same into your machine. All you need to do is fill the printer's food capsules with fresh ingredients, and it will print the food for you
    • Biozoon, a German company, has created a 3D printer that can transform fresh food ingredients into a healthy puree called Smoothfood. It is especially useful for people with medical conditions who find consuming whole food difficult
  • Impact on the Environment

    Sustainable and less wasteful methods of food production are extremely important in this day and age. 3D food printers are capable of positively impacting the environment in a variety of ways such as -

    • 3D food printers can reduce wastage by using only the required amount of raw materials to make food
    • 3D printed meat, as being trialed by professors at the Maastricht University, Netherlands, stand to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 96%, while utilizing just 1% of the land, 45% of the energy and just 4% of the water as compared to conventional beef production
    • Lesser transport costs since most of the food can be 3D printed locally, or at home
  • Impact on Individualized and Alternative Sources of Food

    The rapid advances being made in the field of 3D food printing ensures that manufacturers and individuals can customize a food product with regards to flavor, nutritional value, ingredients, etc., such as -

    • AlgaVia, a company from San Francisco, California has utilized microalgae to develop a protein powder with impressive functional attributes such as being non-allergenic, gluten-free and have a high source of dietary fiber. This, in turn, helps in making the fortification of vegan protein simpler, while ensuring rich tasting but reduced fat foods
    • 3D printed food can also be precisely tailored to an individual's taste and requirement, such as food for athletes, pregnant women, etc.
    • Barilla, the leading Italian pasta manufacturer teamed up with TNO, a Dutch scientific research firm to develop a 3D printer capable of printing a variety of differently shaped pasta, enabling customers to 3D print their own CAD files with different pasta designs quickly and easily

The Future of 3D Printing In Food Industry

3D food printing is poised to have a massive impact on the global economy, closing the gap between small and large-scale businesses, while giving consumers a large degree of freedom in choosing the food they want to eat. Some of the ways in which 3D printing will affect the future of the food industry include -

  • Management of inventory for food manufacturers will become easier and cheaper as they would be able to manufacture food based on demand
  • Raw materials will represent a large fraction of the cost for a food manufacturer. 3D printed food will allow them to bring down costs allowing for cheaper and more sustainable food
  • 3D food printing can radically change food production practices, ensuring better management of resources while reducing wastage of food products
  • 3d food printing also promises an opportunity for FMCG food manufacturers to produce better, healthier food for e.g. PepsiCo, who recently announced that they are looking into leveraging 3D printing for healthier potato chips
  • 3D printing can also boost food innovation and culinary creativity, with chefs and cooks around the world leveraging 3D printing to create beautiful looking food in a variety of shapes and colors

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3D Printing Food - From Imagination to Reality

Just like any new technology, 3D printing has a host of new possibilities to offer, while at the same time the debate on its demerits is still raging on. But the fact remains, that we can easily see an exponential rise in the adoption rate of 3D printing technology in the coming decade, allowing the total value of the 3D printing industry to touch $3 billion. Many experts believe that global food shortage challenges can be effectively addressed by 3D printing food and that even though the technology right now is complex and expensive, 3D printers can soon become as ubiquitous as a household microwave oven.

At Flatworld Solutions, we are at the forefront of leveraging new technologies such as 3D printing for global clients across diverse industry verticals. Contact us now to learn how we can help you address significant outsourcing challenges.

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