Innovation That Matters

Vending machines | Photo source Laura Thonne on Unsplash

Custom snacks on-demand with 3D printing


Finnish company VTT is developing smart vending machines that could produce personalised snacks based on preferred textures and flavours.

We’ve already seen an exercise machine that 3D prints chocolate according to how much users have worked out, and pancakes 3D printed with the diner’s face on it. Following the trend of rapid personalisation, Finland-based VTT Technical Research Centre is using 3D printing to develop smart vending machines that will be able to produce completely customisable snacks.

Consumers will be able to choose from a variety of flavors and textures, such as crispy, crunchy or soft, to build their own multi-layered food on-demand. Having started with starch and cellulose-based products, researchers are now looking into the viability of printing protein concentrates from plants such as oats and fava beans, and whey from dairy. Healthfulness is an important part of the final product.

Technically, the ingredient mix must be able to flow enough to be used in the printing process, and as an emerging technology, additional research is ongoing. VTT’s scientists believe that industrial-scale production is still a few years away because equipment as well as materials must be developed.



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