Centre for Fine Print Research University of the West of England Centre for Fine Print Research
  edible 3d printing

Edible 3D Printing

Funding: UWE Early Career Researcher Starter Grant 2010/11
Awarded to: Deborah Southerland
Collaborators: Peter Walters and David Huson

Edible 3D Printing is a ‘proof of concept’ research project that will bring the versatility and precision of the digital world into the realm of food and edible products. The project seeks to explore and test the technical capabilities of food-based materials (eg: sugars, starch powders, alcohol and chocolate) within 3D printing and rapid prototyping technologies.

The team are undertaking tests on three main production and manufacture techniques for technical feasibility and creative potential:

1. Direct free form fabrication, using powdered food mixes within the Z-Corp powder binder 3D printer.
2. Using heated syringe extruders and chocolate based products within the ‘Rap Man’ rapid prototyping system.
3. 3D printing of resin and/or plaster master models, from which silicone or vacuum formed plastic moulds will be produced, for casting single or multiple food based forms.

The potential of 3D printing has been under philosophical discussion for some time, but conventional materials are often limited in terms of functional and visual qualities. Food based products could provide an exciting alternative with significant commercial potential in the form of delicious delectable edible objects. It is anticipated that these fabrication processes will allow for the creation of intricate edible forms that would be unachievable through conventional cooking and food preparation techniques.

Click on an image to enlarge:

edible 3d printing
edible 3d printing
edible 3d printing
edible 3d printing

related outcomes:
Bits for Bytes potato project
CFPR Potato Print Project
watch the you tube video here: bits from bytes
early career researcher starter grant, 2010/11
industry collaboration: deborah southerland/ cfpr /bits from bytes
read a review of the project here: http://fabbaloo.com/blog/2011

Deborah Southerland went to the Bits from Bytes HQ to test out some 3D printing with food as part of her early career researcher grant project on 3D edible printing. Here's a video of the first try with mash potato - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWDWuQPIx0I - watch out for more to come as we work to get 3D food printing perfected! This project is being carried out on a modified RapMan 3.1 3D printer and is a collaboration between Bits from Bytes and Deborah Southerland, along with colleagues, from the Centre for Fine Print Research, UWE Bristol.

Edible 3D Printing

Authors: Walters, P., Huson, D. and Southerland, D

A peer-reviewed conference paper given at the 3D Printing and Prototyping panel at the Digital Fabrication 2011 Conference, NIP 27, 27th International Conference on Digital Printing Technologies. The potential of 3D printing has been under technical and philosophical discussion for some time, but current rapid prototyping materials can be costly and are limited in terms of functional and visual qualities. Food-based materials could provide a novel and exciting alternative which may also be affordable and accessible as 3d printing extends from industrial applications towards educational and home use. This paper compared and contrasted the findings of a research project that explored freeform fabrication of food-based materials using rapid prototyping techniques: Rapid tooling: Using conventional Z-Corp powder binder 3d printing to fabricate master models from which silicon moulds are made and food materials cast. Powder / binder 3D printing using a combination of different sugars to produce edible forms. Extrusion based rapid manufacture using materials that include potato, chocolate and cream cheese. The investigation of food as a material used in conjunction with these technologies is a growing area of interest and investigation. This paper reviewed the work already being undertaken by others in the field, as well as articulating the findings of our research project, and pointing to opportunities for future developments in this field.


UWE Early Career Researcher Starter Grants
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3D Print Research at the CFPR
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Deborah Southerland
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