German company Biozoon says they'll have a 3D printed food product on the market for the elderly and those in nursing homes who have chewing and swallowing problems by the start of 2016.
Matthias Kuck, the Managing Director of Biozoon, says the texturized food is made from fresh food items which are transformed into products which, though they look similar to their original inspiration, can be eaten and swallowed without the need for chewing.
The idea was brought to fruition with $3.6 million in funding from the EU, and Kuck says the food processing project has resulted in developing a technology to manufacture personalized food with a 3D printer.
According to Kuck, he believes the technology could one day cut costs and food production time.
The creation of trained chef and dietitian Markus Biedermann, the four different texturizers used in the process make it possible to create various forms of nutrition from airy foams to gels to thickened liquids capable of providing a balanced diet. Biozoon says the technology can mimic six different types of food; potatoes, cauliflower, chicken, pork, peas and even pasta.
Biedermann says his process can be used to deliver main courses, desserts and snacks which are "optically appealing." Using a 3D printer technology the company calls seneoPro, the menu items are printed out in the shape and flavor of regular food, but are actually soft enough to make swallowing them very easy.
The company says the printing process itself works a lot like a normal inkjet printer with the exception that it uses food material and a Foodjet printer instead of ink. The process means the layers merge without visible layer formation and the printer is controlled by software capable of printing nearly every needed shape. The newly developed texturizing system prints the meal onto a special plate.
Kuck says the initial offering of products, geared toward the elderly, will be available in nursing homes and caregiving centers as early as 2016.