The Rotterdam-based company Verstegen recently developed the first edible filling for a 3D food printer. Creative director at Verstegen Spices & Sauces Jeroen van der Graaf designed the special cartridges filled exclusively with fresh and natural ingredients. The cartridges are expected to be available for sale by the end of February or beginning of March.

Van der Graaf tested and developed the flavours for the cartridge fillings together with chef Jan Smink of three-star restaurant De Librije in Zwolle. Interested parties can purchase the cartridges produced by Verstegen in three flavours: two purées (beetroot, cardamom, allspice and garlic, or celeriac and macadamia) or a gel made from lemon, agar-agar and chervil.

3-D food printer without filling

During a visit to Silicon Valley three years ago Van der Graaf noted that many start-ups were active in the field of 3D printing. Fascinated by the possibilities offered by 3D printing, and he started to think about how this new technology could benefit the food industry. During this process Van der Graaf discovered the 3-D food printer that byFlow, a company based in Eindhoven, had brought to the market only shortly before his interest in food printing had been triggered. The fact that no edible filling was available yet for this 3-D food printer prompted Van der Graaf to set to work on developing this.

New fillings to be produced

In collaboration with byFlow, Van der Graaf conducted intensive research into the possibilities for producing edible fillings for 3D food printer cartridges. His efforts were not unsuccessful: Van der Graaf became the first to develop an edible filling for the cartridges of 3D food printers. However, this unique achievement was no reason for Van der Graaf to rest on his laurels: ‘These fillings still don’t have a ‘bite’; they are gels and purées. The next step is to expand our product range with some fillings with a crunchier texture.’

Multifunctional machine

The 3D food printer made by byFlow can print the dish or a decoration selected within 2 to 3 minutes. Users of a 3D food printer can choose from approximately 20 different designs, or one of their own. Interested parties will soon be able to purchase more designs via the Verstegen and byFlow online shops. According to Van der Graaf, the 3D food printer can be used for more purposes than culinary decoration alone: ‘It is possible to add nutrient supplements to the cartridges to combat vitamin deficiencies. Also, the soft substance that comes out of a printer is a blessing for people who have difficulty swallowing.’

Opportunities for greenhouse horticulture

Van der Graaf: ‘At present, the parties demonstrating the greatest interest in the edible fillings are primarily restaurants, catering firms, pastry chefs and medical care facilities.’ The creative director at Verstegen anticipates, however, that interest will grow. ‘I believe that between now and a year from now the consumer market will also be interested in this product. Another unique selling point is that the cartridges are dishwasher-safe.’ If more and more 3D food printers are used, this will also offer opportunities for the greenhouse horticulture industry. Growers of the one or more of the ingredients in the cartridge fillings intend to keep a close eye on the developments around the 3D food printer and its cartridges.

Source: AD. Photo: Marlies Wessels.