Burritos in the Space Time Continuum
Image by Lauren Topor on Flickr
You may have heard of 3D-printed food, a form of additive manufacturing, where edible ‘ink’ is layered to create an item of food.
What about 4D-printed food? It sounds like it belongs in Back to the Future, but researchers from RMIT University in Melbourne are working on a new iteration of 3D-printed food with an added dimension: time.
“Sometimes we forget we’re in a 4D environment,” says Professor Benu Adhikari, a researcher in food engineering and processing. “The time dimension is always there, even if we don’t see it or feel it.” In the same way that we humans and the environment around us change over time, 4D printing means the shape of a 3D-printed material could change over time, too.
“For example, I could 3D-print a candy in the shape of a lotus flower that hasn’t yet bloomed,” explains Benu. “4D printing means I could control the time dimension so that by the time it’s opened by the consumer, the lotus has bloomed.”
It sounds like magic. And it is, kind of…the magic of science.
“Plants change color when the pigment inside the leaves changes, due to the weather,” explains Benu. “In the same way, in our work we’re formulating a printing ‘ink’ for our 3D-printed food that changes, depending on the timeframe or the environment.”
This means a 4D-printed food might change shape or color when triggered by factors like humidity, heat, or microwave energy. As well as giving variety and excitement to consumers, Benu says this technology could have uses in the mechanical or fabrication industries. There’s also potential for 4Dprinted foods to help people with dysphagia, meaning they have difficulty swallowing foods.
Above that, however, Benu says his research is about learning and opening up new possibilities that we may never have otherwise considered.
“In the 1940s, the microwave oven was invented by accident, by someone working on radar systems. Now, every household has microwaves,” says Benu. “When you undertake research, you never know what applications it might open up, in the future.”
4D Food Sidebar: Print Me Out a Burrito, Please
BY EILEEN SEILER
Okay, we’re not quite there, yet. But 3D food printing is a thing that’s really catching on. From pizza and pancakes to gourmet desserts with fancy designs, there’s a big appetite for this technology.3D Food printing works like any other 3D technology. A squishy, viscous substance is fed into the printer’s syringe and programmed to deposit the substance layer after layer upon a surface to create the final object. Sounds scrumptious, yes? It’s not so bad, really. 3D foodies use delicious edible stuff like dough, purées, chocolate, frostings, cheeses, and even raw meat.Some foods require precooking or pre-smushing before being sculpted into their final form, and some items need to be cooked afterward (with the exception of the PancakeBot which extrudes the batter onto a hotplate).
Where 3D food printing shines is in creating intricate shapes and designs that would take way too long to do by hand. It also has benefits in healthcare. Patients with restricted diets can easily have their food customized (and printed) with all of the nutrients they need. Once technology finds a way to cut back on the time it takes to mass produce 3D food and the cost of equipment and ingredients, you just may have that burrito. You better print out a few copies.
What is 4D Printing in Food Technology?
Dinner is printed: 3D Printed Foods
3D, 4D Food Printing Technology
4D Printing in Food Technology
MIT Produces 4D Shape-shifting Pasta
Four Food Tech Trends to Watch
A Travel Guide to the Fourth Dimension
Four Dimensional Space
Interesting Facts About Time
4D Printing on the Rise
How 4D Differs from 3D?
Does the 4th Dimension of Time Exist?
Also In The February 2023 Issue
If aliens exist, why haven’t we met any yet?
Learn how the origins of cybernetics may pave the way for the future of machine learning
Don’t let the name fool you, this systems programming language is anything but rusty!
With every end, there is a new beginning. Especially in creative robotics!
Don’t forget your umbrella for this TIC-80 Lab
Save time with this neat OpenSCAD shortcut
Time to get inspired by mother nature!
Learn how drones are being used to repair the Great Wall of China and find ancient structures!
These robot mice move like mechanical cats are chasing them!
Try out this Zombie Survival mod for Minecraft if you dare!
This trash loving AI joins the fight for a greener earth!
Spice up your 3D-printed food with time!
Now that you have made your masterpiece, it is time to share it with the world.
Time to get your Farming robots’ hands dirty!
Be the FIRST at your school to join this awesome program
Links from the bottom of all the February 2023 articles, collected in one place for you to print, share, or bookmark.
Explore the scientific origins of memes!