VTT has already tested starch and cellulose-based materials
Replicator technology made famous by the 'Star Trek' franchise is set to be come a reality, as new 3D printed snacks will soon be created.
The Finland-based VTT Technical Research Centre is developing food manufacturing technologies by combining expertise in food, material science and 3D printing.
"Healthy snacks with great textures are in increasing demand among consumers. Researchers have the long-term vision of developing high-tech vending machines that provide customised purchases", it says.
In its initial trials, VTT tested starch and cellulose-based materials for 3D food prototypes. It is also working on the printability of protein concentrates of both plant (oat and faba bean) and dairy (whey protein).
"However, a great deal of work is needed in order to proceed to industrial-scale production", says Nesli Sözer, principal scientist at VTT.
"Equipment needs to be developed in addition to materials. Such equipment could be developed for domestic 3D food printing as well as vending machines".
Researchers are hoping to include texture as part of their final product - adding that brands are combining textures with features such as crispy inclusions, soft centres and extra-crunchy toppings.
The firm says 3D printing technology will enable the "layer-by-layer manufacture of various structures, from crispy to soft gels that produce a distinctive mouthfeel".