The Mass Appeal of 3D-Printed Food Is No Joke!
A scientist, farmer, and entrepreneur walk into a bar together and enjoy a 3D-printed pizza. And finish it up with nutritious, milled-mealworm shortbread cookies—also 3D printed. Wait, that’s not a joke! It may not sound all that appetizing, but in efforts to figure out how to feed the world’s ever-increasing population, dedicated stakeholders are working on sustainable measures to keep food on the table. As we know, necessity = invention.
An article on Digital Trends explains that advances in 3D printing can “improve the nutritional value of meals, produce intricate sculptures out of everyday foodstuff, and solve hunger in regions of the world that lack access to fresh, affordable ingredients.” Edible cement may not be on the top of your shopping list, but if it brought items like sugar sculptures, patterned chocolate, and latticed pastry to the party, I might be in. You are probably already eating 3D-produced food, perhaps in a restaurant (high-volume or super fancy) or that has been mass produced via this type of digital chef artist, as companies like Barilla make pasta with these “additive manufacturing” machines.
Meeting Increasing Capacity
Foods that are 3D printed have the capacity to meet the more serious global needs of nutrition and sustainability, producing renewable, environmentally-friendly storage options—even reducing fuel use and emissions, as Joseph F. Coughlin, founder and director of the AgeLab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology believes. Think about how satisfying it would be to bite into a juicy burger that also delivers a nutritional boost to your health profile. Or softer, easy-to-chew pureed veggies in soft molds of their original shapes—perfect for the young, old, and infirm. Food can also be customized for allergies and aliments. As the Digital Trends article states, Hod Lipson, a professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia who fabricates nutrition bars and simple pastries, told the New York Times, “This may be the missing link between nutrition and personal medicine, and the food that’s on your table.”
This technology exists, is experiencing great success, and promises to expand into countless purposes. As with any burgeoning innovation, there are growing pains, application limitations, scaling challenges, and diverse industry adoption needs that require engineered technologic solutions to help advance. These are exactly the kinds of situations we love to partner on with customers at Enginasion. Companies come to us when they are looking for a new way to perform an old task, or need new functionality using existing technology that is robust enough at its core, but needs an upgrade in capability and capacity.
We’ve seen the evolution of many technologies morph through the years. Some start off fairly rudimentary and exponentially advance to an almost entirely new form of the original. Projects we have worked on recently have addressed next generation of technologies such as Bluetooth, wearable RFID sensors, flexible circuitry, and exploring—and finding solutions for—IoT advancements to help professionals receive immediate feedback for whatever their needs may be.
Updating and Upgrading Technology
In one instance with a customer of ours, IMA North America, a large OEM packaging equipment manufacturer, wanted to upgrade the design and capabilities of its count verification system. The goal: 100% accurate counting of tablets, capsules, soft gels, and caplets of all shapes and sizes with a flexible hardware platform that is reconfigured with the touch of a button.
Here are some of the finer design points of the upgrade:
- The new TruCount®machines are 39” and 16” wide—scalable to manage growth
- Built-in redundancy of 40 networked cameras replaced one camera previously tasked with covering 40” of pills dropping. Now if they lose a camera, they’re still in business.
- Photo diodes and detectors scan the product at nearly 2,000 times per second
The case study offers more information about this remarkable technological solution. Is the solution, update, or upgrade you need one download away? Download it now to find out.