Food 3D printing is one of the strangest verticals in 3D printing. There are plenty of possible experimental applications and it is definitely something that a large number of people are interested in, however progress in this area has been slower than in segments – such a bioprinting or silicone and ceramics 3D printing – which also can use the same basic pneumatic extrusion 3D printing process. A Chinese company called Shiyin Tech has now taken a few more steps in the right direction with its new user-friendly Sweetin food 3D printer.
One of the issues in food 3D printing is that it is mainly a consumer targeted application and like all consumer technologies it needs to be extremely intuitive to use as well as reliable. Consumers have no patience for failed prints and cannot be asked to do a lot of pre- and post-processing.
The Sweetin 3D printer positions itself as a marketing tool for cafe and pastry shop owners as well as fun kitchen appliance to experiment at home. It will enable creation of geometries which are impossible to produce by traditional methods and while the end surface quality may not be as perfect as traditional artisan food production, it does offer a novel and potentially more efficient approach. Shiyin Tech is also targeting nursing homes that want to provide easy to chew food in more appealing shapes.
It does this by offering (relatively) accurate food 3D printing (with a .4 mm extrusion head) with as many as 5 different materials already validated. These can be relatively “standard” materials such as chocolate and biscuit paste, as well as other paste-based products such a candy, jam (but only for 2D decorations), and cheese. The system has already been tested for the possibility to include as many as 20 different food categories, such as mashed potatoes and chopped meat.
In this sense it is not so dissimilar from Natural Machines’ Foodini, the machine that was the first in introducing this concept, with the one significant difference that the Sweetin is actually already available for purchase.
In order to effectively 3D print different foods, while protecting nutritional ingredients from damage, Shiyin Tech’s Sweetin system lets you control temperature to a range of ±0.1° C through its free downloadable software, which also regulates extrusion speed. Will this be enough to bring food 3D printing into maturity? Check out the videos below and decide.