Brazilian and French food engineers have developed modified starch-based hydrogels that can be used as inks to 3D print food.
According to the scientists from Brazil’s São Paulo’s Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture (ESALQ-USP) and France’s Nantes Atlantic College of Veterinary Medicine, Food Science and Engineering (Oniris) and the National Institute for Research on Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE), these inks make it possible to print food with personalized shapes, textures, flavors, and colors.
The first gels produced by these teams were based on cassava starch, notes principal investigator and ESALQ-USP professor, Pedro Esteves Duarte Augusto.
They produced ozone by applying an electrical discharge to oxygen, bubbled the gas in a container with a mixture of water and cassava starch in suspension, and dried the mixture by removing the water. The result was modified starch.
Over the past two years, the scientists have developed another starch modification method. This involves dry heating of cassava and wheat starch in an oven while controlling both temperature and time.
Using the new method they were also able to obtain gels based on modified starch that displayed optimal printability,
Dry heat treatment also extended the textural possibilities of printed samples based on wheat starch hydrogels.
Talking about the results, Augusto says that both methods are simple, cheap and easy to implement on an industrial scale.
The ESALQ-USP group is now planning to study other methods of modification and sources for the production of 3D food printing gels.
They recently purchased a 3D printer, which they will use to produce the structures developed with the new gels.
Image and content: Bianca C. Maniglia/FAPESP