Engineering and technology
- Manufacturing processes, methods and technologies
Agricultural and food sciences
- Food technology
Meat products are frequently listed between the most resource-intensive foods and represent a major source of environmental issues, especially considering the expected world’s population growth for the next few decades. Hence, much focus has been giving to developing more sustainable meat replacements. Despite all the progress made in this field and the increasing number of people who follow a vegan diet, the available plant-based protein alternatives are still very limited and not always as tasty as animal-based food products. As conventional food processing methods seem to be unable to change this scenario, 3D food-printing methods have been investigated for that purpose. However, currently available 3D food-printing methods heavily rely on trial and error and present a number of drawbacks, including poor spatial-composition and poor final-shape control. Therefore, a fundamental investigation on multimaterial 3D food printing is paramount, and we propose to address the aforementioned challenges. Specifically, we plan to (i) formulate a broad palette of novel plant-based inks with tunable properties for 3D printing, (ii) perform the rheological characterization of the inks, (iii) conduct multimaterial 3D printing experiments of plant-based meat, and (iv) evaluate the printing quality of the 3D printed meat based on specific quality-control parameters. From this experimental work, it is expected that the operating windows for the rheological properties and governing printing parameters are revealed, and that this knowledge can be useful not only to print high-quality sustainable meat products from plants, but also to change the way 3D food printing processes are designed nowadays.