First-generation, small-scale commercial additive food manufacturing machines are more accessible and affordable.

Additive manufacturing involves producing objects by layering materials one layer at a time. Food additive manufacturing has several distinct advantages to conventional food production:

  •  Minimal wastage as only the amounts needed to produce the final product are used – saving on materials and energy
  •  Designing and prototyping is easier as it is based around small production runs rather than relying on economies of scale
  •  Combat food fatigue with small production runs and changing up creative and attractive designs

Additive manufacturing has shown great promise in areas such as medicine, creating customised replacement body parts customised for the situation and comfort of a patient. 

Imagine if we could produce food customised for the individual needs of that patient while still being palatable and attractive? What if we could combat food waste by reforming it? What if we could push the boundaries of culinary science to create food designs, textures, flavours and experiences for anyone in the world with a 3D-food printer? 

As part of the Industry 4.0 Testlab, the University of Tasmania has invested in two 3D food printers and invite interested individuals and organisations to test the boundaries of food science with us.

3D food printer in action creating complex eatable products.

Key points

  • 3D food printers are now becoming commercially available for home, restaurant and industrial manufacturing
  • UTAS Testlab has two Foodini food printers for research, teaching and demonstration
  • Food printing uses the same technology approaches and programming as other 3D  printers using glass or plastics for bespoke manufacturing
  • Food printing does not generate fumes or involve high temperatures so is easily accessible for training and teaching 
  • Food printing use currently focuses on creativity and decorative designs in sweets desserts, pastries and cakes
  • Commercial use currently includes automated made-to-order pancakes and pizzas
  • Food printing research focuses on how to create different structured and textured products to create attractive eating options from a range of base ingredients 
  • Products that can be experimentally made include restructured meats and fish, complex designs of baked goods and nutrition products tailored for individual needs
  • Food wastes or cosmetically damaged produce can be restructured to produce attractive, palatable and nutritionally-balanced foods

How to get involved

If you are interested in talking to us about additive food manufacturing and testing the boundaries of food science with us, please email testlab@utas.edu.au or visit our Testlab page.  

Whether you’re a chef, horticulturalist, food producer, food scientist, gastronomist, or a teacher wanting to teach additive manufacturing in a safe environment, we would like to hear from you and see how we can work together.

Top image: Final product being taken out of a Foodini printer.

About Prof Roger Stanley

Professor Roger Stanley is Foundation Director of the Centre for Food Innovation (CFI) based at Launceston. He also works as a joint appointment with Defence at the DSTG Food and Nutrition Research laboratory, Scottsdale and links local research to the national CSIRO food research network. His research focus is on value addition to primary produce such as by shelf life extension and the development of improved nutritional and performance (functional) foods.

View Prof Roger Stanley's full researcher profile