3D food printing – an emerging technology delivers novel insights in traditional food science

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The traditional production of foods based on solid open-cell foams is highly complex. Thereby, a creation of a bulk phase of complex polymer-particle systems, partly the inflation and material-depended gas holding capacity and its final stabilization to the open-cell foam shows this complexity. All these parameters influence the cellular structure of the food and its functionality in terms of texture. This texture appears as a sensory property and a multi-parameter attribute. Additive manufacturing enables a complete redesign of such traditional food processes and enables especially in a scientific point of view entirely new possibilities for the understanding of the current production of foods.

The presentation shows a first steps of this promising approach and discusses the potential of a highly specific texture design of starch-protein based solid open-cell foams. Several methodologies needs to be applied such as inline heating processes for the phase transition and stabilization of the starch-based material or the modeling of the mechanical behavior to identify and control the relation between porosity and texture. Finally, one application was investigated in the field of sensory design: we implemented flavor active components in the printed edible structures by a dual extrusion system and analyzed its effect on flavor perception. This innovative approach revealed a highly specific texture and sensory design of cereal based biopolymer systems.

A food science presentation by Prof. Dr. Mario Jekle, Department Director & Director at University of Hohenheim.


Question 1: What drives you?
To identify the unkown

Question 2: Why should the delegate attend your presentation?
I try to connect the knowledge from traditional food science with our novel highly flexible process. 3d food printing is not just a new processing technology, it’s also an analytical tool to find new insights for other processes.

Question 3: What emerging technologies/trends do you see as having the greatest potential in the short and long run?
In the short run 3d printing enables tremendous insights in the relations between strucutures in foods and its sensory qualities. In the long run we will follow fundamental material science knowledge for designing these structures, textures and qualities by reverse food engineering approaches. 3d printing is one key technology for this strategy.

Question 4: What kind of impact do you expect them to have?
Consumers can choose from a previously impossible variety of product qualities especially in the field of textures. It’s not just individualization, it’s also about unkown food qualities. Furthermore, we will create a tool to adjust the nutritional qualities in a just-in-time manner, which enables new strategies to fulfill the necessities for a healthy life.

Question 5: What are the barriers that might stand in the way?
Technology-openness. I believe in the openness of the costumers, and we have to find ways to convince our business partners for the potential of this technology also for larger scale productions.

About Mario Jekle
Prof. Mario Jekle leads the Department of Plant-based Foods at the University of Hohenheim, Germany. His research fields are the fractionation and isolation of functional plant-based biopolymers, the modification and structurization of these biopolymers and finally reverse food engineering for a specific design of food properties. One strong focus is additive manufacturing of foods, where he combines his interdisciplinary competencies of material sciences and process engineering. He published 78 peer reviewed papers and is member of several national and international committees, boards, and networks. He owned several awards such as the “rising star in texture research” award.

About University of Hohenheim
Being a science specialist instead of a generalist opens up many opportunities for the University of Hohenheim. This includes working across the disciplines – for example in the University-wide concentration Bioeconomy, to which all faculties contribute

Mario Jekles is speaker at the 2021 edition of the 3D Food Printing Conference.

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