Pureed foods are generally served to patients suffering from swallowing difficulties known as dysphagia . Health professionals have used silicone molds to shape pureed food to make it more visually appealing.
But this process takes time and a lot of storage but 3D printed food inks are generally made from pureed food in liquid or semi-solid form , and then 3D printed by extrusion from a die and assembled layer by layer.
Dehydrated foods and lyophilized powders used as food inks generally contain a high percentage of food additives, such as hydrocolloids (HC).
The high concentration of CH tends to change the taste, texture and aroma of printed foods, making them unappetizing for patients with dysphagia. But a new ‘ink’ process to produce food in 3D printers with fresh and frozen vegetables better preserves their nutritional properties and flavor .
This new process has been developed by the research team of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH).
Optimized ink formulations show excellent 3D printability, minimal water seepage, and dense microstructures with minimal HC. Using fresh vegetables instead of freeze-dried foods helps to preserve the taste and nutrition as if they were real food. As Yi Zhang , Principal Investigator of the NTU team, explained:
Our technology helps provide dysphagic patients with adequate, nutrient-rich and safe diets. Their eating is more dignified, allowing them to socialize and eat foods that look, feel, and taste like normal food. Our fresh vegetables 3D printing method can be easily used in hospitals, nursing homes, nurseries for the aging population with dysphagia and other swallowing disorders. Our research is also a further step in digital gastronomy, where we can meet the specific requirements prescribed by dietitians, such as customization of nutrition and visual appeal.