Specialty Food Magazine


Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Page 42 of 139

able tool as the technology moves forward. For instance, a few years ago pasta maker Barilla teamed with TNO, a Dutch research firm, with the goal of creating a 3-D pasta printer that will produce 15 to 20 pieces of pasta every two minutes. Considering that this pasta can be printed in any shape imaginable, the speed of the process would be impressive. While the companies have not announced any updates since the project's start, they recently launched a design con- test called PrintEat for the best user-submitted 3-D printing design of a pasta that could be printed at home or in a restaurant, which may be hinting at an impending launch. Liz von Hasseln, creative director of food products at 3D Systems, another player in the market, believes that 3-D printing technology will produce a major shift in the food industry. "It adds a powerful tool to the repertoire of the baker, pastry chef, and restau- rateur, empowering them to conjure structures that have never been possible before," she says. "These artists are beginning to describe a new kind of making that goes beyond muscle memory and into a new digital craftsmanship." It's not just about looks. The technology could revolutionize nutrition and solutions to dietary needs. "With 3-D printing tech- nology for the kitchen, we get closer to making food more acces- sible and more personalized," explains Vaiva Kalnikaitė, founder of Cambridge-based Dovetailed, developer of the first fruit printer. (More on that shortly.) "Right now, a lot of food on demand has additives, so if we can reconstruct it in a way that only applies to you personally, such as adding nutrients to balance someone's personal physiology, we'd basically be able to design a berry, for instance, that's designed specifically for the individual consuming it." Printer-Ready Foods The 3-D food printing industry is still in its infancy, but many manu- facturers are gearing up to release the first commercial models, with a range of functionalities, in 2015. Here's a look at some of the most interesting applications in production. Chocolate & Candy. Sugar-based foods and chocolate lend themselves to 3-D printing technology for their sheer simplicity as far as ingredients go. This category has the most potential in the short term, and will be the first to come to market. "With sweets, I think the possibilities are endless since candy is basically sugar," Molitch-Hou explains. "Essentially it's just printing different flavors in different shapes and it looks beautiful." "Confections are a great place to start," says von Hasseln of 3D Systems, "because there's already a cultural expectation of a des- sert as a designed object. It's a space that values embellishment and experimentation and customization." 3D Systems has developed two of the most highly anticipated printers in this arena: the Chef Jet and Chef Jet Pro, slated for release early this year. (Although a price has yet to be set, the company notes the Chef Jet will cost less than $5,000; the Pro, less than $10,000.) As with traditional 3-D printers, the Chef Jet printers build a con- fection layer by layer, but unlike the simple paste-extrusion method, this system uses an inkjet-like nozzle that adds the wet ingredients of a recipe to the dry ingredients with the utmost precision. To illustrate, the machine lays out a thin layer of fine sugar then paints over the sugar with water; this process is repeated over and over, layer by layer, until the intricately designed confection is complete. Chocolate items work in the same fashion but using cocoa powder instead of sugar. With the Chef Jet Pro, the possibilities expand by allowing for food coloring in each layer, producing a full-color spectrum capable of photographic levels of quality. One of the most impressive features is its ability to comprehend computer designs. "You can design and print a confection with any photograph, pat- tern, or text," von Hasseln explains. The Imagine 3-D Printer by Essential Dynamics, now avail- able at a listing price of $3,795, also allows for customized ingre- dients and can print a range of items such as chocolate, cheese, and other soft materials that can be pushed through its syringe. Its speed is another feat: the firm claims its printer can produce a cupcake in under two minutes. The Choc Creator line of chocolate printers by Choc Edge, released in 2012, were among the first chocolate printers to be commercially available for sale at a price point ranging from $3,600 A 3-D printer melts ingredients like chocolate in an extruder, allowing it to be sculpted. The technology can deliver a new level of personalized food shopping. A prepared foods counter could print out an organic pasta with a customer's choice of vegetables or spices. PHOTO: 3D SYSTEMS 40 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com

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