Researchers create items to produce food with 3D printing

Food engineers in Brazil and France have developed modified starch-based gels for use as a “compound” to produce food and additives. Credit: Bianca C. Maniglia / USP

Food engineers in Brazil and France have developed modified starch-based gels for use as a “compound” to produce food and additives.

It is now possible to produce food with a 3B printer, potentially to provide products that meet the needs of consumers in terms of taste, texture, cost, comfort and nutrition. In the near future, for example, it will be possible to produce food with individualized shapes, textures, flavors and colors that are considered attractive and healthy for children and the elderly.

A group of researchers from the University of São Paulo’s Louise de Queiroz Agricultural College in Brazil (ESALQ-USP) are collaborating with their French counterparts at the Nantes Atlantic Veterinary Medical College (Oniris) and the National Research Institute of Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE). took steps to reach. They make modified starch-based hydrogels for use as “ink” in 3D printing of foods.

The final results of the FAPESP-supported project are published in the journal Food Research International.

Pedro Esteves Duarte Augusto, professor and lead researcher at ESALQ-USP, said, “Over the last few years, we have developed different technologies to modify starch and make gels with 3B printing, which are ideal properties for use as ‘ink’.” The project, Agência explained to FAPESP.

The first gels produced by researchers are based on cassava starch. In a previous project supported by FAPESP, they developed a method used to change the structure and properties of starch with ozone.

They produced ozone by applying an electric discharge to the oxygen, foamed the gas in a bowl containing a mixture of cassava starch in water and suspension, and removed the water to dry the mixture. As a result, the starch was changed.

Given the differences in the process, such as ozone concentration, temperature, and time, they were able to obtain gels with different properties in terms of consistency suitable for use in 3D printing.

“Condition control has allowed us to get weaker gels for other applications and stronger gels that are ideal for 3D printing because they protect the printed structure from leaking and losing moisture,” Augusto said.

In the last two years, researchers have developed another method of modifying starch. This includes dry heating of the sleeve and wheat starch in an oven while controlling both temperature and time.

Using the new method, by producing additives (folding), they were able to obtain gels based on modified starch, which is defined as the ability to correct the 3B object and preserve its structure after printing, indicating the optimal printing ability. Dry heat treatment has also expanded the weaving capabilities of samples printed on the basis of wheat starch hydrogels.

“We have achieved good results with both methods. It’s simple, inexpensive and easy to implement on an industrial scale, ”Augusto said.

Samples of cassava and wheat starch-based gels were published in Oniris and INRAE, France, with a project to develop functional starch-based gels for 3D printing, funded by the regional innovation agency Pays de la Loire as part of a program called Food 4 Tomorrow.

In collaboration with French scientists, ESALQ-USP researcher Bianca Chieregato conducted postdoctoral research at Maniglia Oniris and INRAE, applying ozone and dry heating methods to produce modified cassava and wheat starch-based gels for 3D printing of foods.

The techniques were developed in collaboration with other researchers in ESALQ-USP’s Process Engineering Research Group (GEP).

“The experience of all the researchers involved in the project has allowed us to get better printable gels, so products with better shape, definition and structure are important parameters for product acceptability,” Maniglia said.

New items

The ESALQ-USP team now plans to explore other modification methods and sources for the production of 3D food printing gels. ESALQ-USP recently purchased a 3D printer that will be used in the production of designs made with new gels.

Modified cassava and wheat starch-based gels can be used to print other non-food items, such as medicinal capsules and nutraceuticals – biomedical products that contain foods designed not only to nourish but also to benefit health.

“We have demonstrated the expediency of food production with the production of 3D printing and specially prepared materials. We now plan to extend the applications and test other raw materials, ”Augusto said.

Reference: “Dry heat treatment: 3B is a potential tool to improve the properties of wheat starch for food printing application” Bianca C. Maniglia,
Dâmaris C. Lima, Manoel da Matta Júnior, Anthony Oge, Patricia Le-Bail, Pedro ED Augusto and Alain Le-Bail, 22 September 2020, Food Research International.
DOI: 10.1016 / j.foodres.2020.109731

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