A new method for 3D printing milk-based products were developed by the researchers at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. They applied the direct printing method at room temperature while retaining all the nutrients. The method of 3D printing products is unique. It was achieved using selective laser sintering and hot melt extrusion methods. But they are not always compatible with the nutrients that are very sensitive to the different temperatures found in certain types of foods.
For example, a product such as milk is rich in calcium and protein. But these elements are sensitive to temperature extremes, and therefore milk is recognized as not suitable for printing on a 3D printer, where the high temperature technique is used.
The scientists decided to use cold extrusion as an alternative method. The solution was difficult as it required the use of some additives to stabilize the printed structures. Optimizing these supplements was challenging.
To do that, the researchers changed some of the properties of the printer ink and demonstrated a method of cold extrusion printing with only one element, milk powder. After reaching the required concentration of milk powder, the scientists found that they obtained a unique milk 3D ink using water.
The product has undergone rigorous research to analyze its rheological properties and ensure optimum printability. The resulting method is recognized as simple and effective in the preparation of a variety of nutritious foods, including foods that are served to patients in hospitals to meet their special dietary needs.
A lead author of the study, Lee Cheng Pau, noted that the cold extrusion method does not compromise the nutrients that are exposed to heat and has enormous potential for producing food that is tailored to individual needs.