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EXPO2015 in Milan sees the presentation of a prototype pasta printer, co-developed by Barilla and TNO, that is capable of printing three-dimensional (3D) pasta shapes. This printer can thus do what normal methods cannot: create unique pasta shapes. This is a world’s first, made possible by TNO knowledge. The printer is currently able to print four elements every two minutes.
The 3D printed pasta tastes is prepared using classical pasta recipes – just durum wheat semolina and water - without any additives and so is the same as normal pasta. The printer isn’t commercially available yet, but it has a tremendous potential, giving consumers a special pasta experience on the basis of special combinations of pasta shapes and menu components. EXPO2015 runs from May to October 2015.
In 3D food-printing TNO focuses on printing food that is unique in texture, structure, ingredients, form and shape, and which can make a tangible contribution to people’s health and sustainable production. What makes TNO unique is that some 20 engineers, process scientists and food experts work on and support 3D food-printing, making it the only institute in the world that combines expertise in the technology of the printing process and its application with food science knowledge under one roof. This provides the basis for TNO to facilitate the creation of knowledge in terms of the taste experience in combination with new products, ingredients and print processes.
3D food-printing could be a key factor in the quest to use new raw materials and develop new products, generating significant opportunities for the food industry, reducing waste and residue streams, promoting healthy and fresh products, and enhancing the fun of the food experience.
TNO sees a role for 3D food-printing in both the short and longer term to develop unique new products that cannot be made using other methods or to change the formula, shape, structure or texture of existing products so that, for example, the taste experience remains the same yet the salt or sugar content is reduced. In addition, food can be customised so that it precisely fits the needs and preferences of individuals (like elite sportsmen, people with specific dietary needs or have difficulty swallowing) with respect to content, form, shape and taste. The 3D technology can also help transform alternative ingredients like proteins from algae, beet leaves or even insects into tasty products with recognisable structures that are good not only for health but also for the environment.
And, of course, the printer can ensure that your personalised meal is made at exactly the right moment so that when you come home, a fresh, healthy meal is waiting for you. This convenience can lead to flexible decentralised (local) production.
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