Researchers use modified starch as "ink" to make food and new materials through additives. Image credit: Bianca C. Maniglia / USP
It has become possible to produce food with 3D printers, and it is expected to provide products that meet consumer tastes and nutritional preferences.
Researchers and collaborators at the Luis de Queiroz Institute of São Paulo University (ESALQ-USP) in Brazil have developed a hydrogel based on modified starch, which is used as an "ink" for 3D printing food. Related results were recently published in "International Food Research".
"In the past few years, we have developed different technologies to modify starch to obtain gels with ideal properties as the'ink' for 3D printed food production." The project leader and ESALQ-USP professor Pedro Esteves Duarte Augusto said.
The first gels produced by the researchers were based on tapioca starch. In a previous project, they developed a method to modify the structure and properties of starch with ozone. They generate ozone by discharging oxygen, put the gas, water and tapioca starch mixture in a container to bubble, and then remove it. The moisture dries out the mixture, resulting in modified starch.
By changing the ozone concentration, temperature and time, researchers can obtain gels with different properties for 3D printing.
"Control of conditions allows us to obtain softer gels for other purposes, as well as harder gels for 3D printing, which can maintain the shape of the printed structure without flowing or losing moisture." Augusto said .
Using this new method, researchers were also able to obtain a gel based on modified starch, which has the best printability and maintains its structure after printing. Dry heat treatment also expands the structural possibilities of printed samples based on wheat starch hydrogel.
"These methods have achieved good results. They are simple, inexpensive, and easy to implement on an industrial scale," Augusto said.
Related paper information: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodres.2020.109731