QATAR – Two students from Doha’s Carnegie Mellon University, have created a Three-Dimensional (3D) printer that has the ability to mass-print vegetables.

The 3D printer was showcased by the students Mohammad Annan, 20, and Lujain Al Mansoori, 21 in the Business Incubation and Acceleration Hackathon, hosted in August by Qatar Development Bank.

Their technology, which won them top prize in the FoodTech category, can mass-print vegetables, by using artificially grown vegetable cells and UV light to print prototypes.

According to one of the students, the pilot project focused on carrots as a proof of concept because they are the most researched type of vegetable especially in terms of stem cells.

“But in the future, we hope to look at fruits and vegetables that are very climate specific and rare to actually print those vegetables,” said Al Mansoori.

The technology, according to the National Institute of Health, has not yet been put into industrial production on a large-scale, because of printing speed and material texture restrictions.

Currently, a limited number of commercial food products are available through 3D printing technology for those with eating disabilities but these methods cannot support mass production.

Annan and Al Mansoori’s printer is, however, more advanced as it is built upon current masked stereolithography technology – which uses ultraviolet light to set the “inks” – for their 3D printer, which allows fast, bulk printing compared with pre-existing methods.

“Our technology supports mass production because it uses ultraviolet light,” Annan said. “This type of printing has been done before using ultraviolet light with resin, but it’s never been done before using edible material.”

Referring to the 3D-printed carrot she added that the vegetable has the same nutritional value as a conventionally grown carrot, as the soil’s environment is mimicked in the lab.

Globally, this technology shows extensive and promising application potential in the food industry by opening a whole world of new food product opportunities.

According to Expert Market Research, the growing understanding among food innovators on the need to upgrade food processing technologies is a crucial driver of the 3D food printing demand.

Increased research and development activities by major companies, and the new market launches for novel food products, will create new opportunities for the industry.

In the forecast period of 2023-2028, the global 3D food printing market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 72.80%, outlines the report.

Among the top companies in the Global 3D Food Printing Market include Procusini, Natural Machines Iberia, Byflow B.V., and Systems and Materials Research Corporation.

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