Meet our first PhD student Dolf Klomp on 3D food printing. After working at Nuon/Helianthos in flexible solar cells Dolf joined the TNO department of Equipment for Additive Manufacturing as a Physics Development Engineer in November 2011. The last two years Dolf has been involved in 3D food printing. With this background and his keen interest in new technology Dolf has started his PhD research on 3D food printing in December last year.
At that moment TNO and TU/e HTSC had joined forces in the field of 3D-print equipment in the combined AMSYSTEMS Center. Next to his PhD research he is also working on the development of the Next Generation 3D Food Printer that is being developed by AMSYSTEMS Center. He comprises his PhD position at the Eindhoven University of Technology, department Mechanical Engineering, research group Polymer Technology.
Powder flow behavior
His research topic entails the creation of a multi-material powder bed for 3D food printing. Dolf’s focus is on the prediction of powder flow behavior during the creation of a multi-material powder bed by creating a simulation program. His approach on this topic is twofold. First, it is to create a multi-material powder bed micro dosing with ultrasonic vibrating nozzle. This will foresee allowing for the accurate dispensing of powder voxels. Dolf will start an experimental setup with several selected model powders for the validation of the concept. Second Dolf will set up a simulation of powder flow. A discrete element method (DEM) program will be written for the prediction how different food powders behave during deposition and the subsequent 3D printing processes. The experimental setup will be used for validation of the simulation.
“focus is on the prediction of powder flow behavior”
Characterize forces and implementation
It will be a challenge to characterize all forces and implementation. “Specifically the validation of the forces based on experimental bulk data”, emphasizes Dolf. “Furthermore, since DEM is very computational intensive it will be also not easy to keep the calculation time to an acceptable level.” A whole set of forces are interacting on each particle in granular matter. These forces range from the contact forces such as elastic forces, friction forces, damping forces and adhesive and cohesive forces at the contact area to non-contact forces such as the Van Der Waals forces, electrostatic forces, capillary forces due to water bridging, friction and gravity. All these forces have several different implementation models and spheres of influence, determining the needed level of implementation detail and which forces don’t have significant contributions will be challenging. Certainly since using bulk material properties as particle surface properties might be questionable. Experimental verification of the DEM model will be challenging since mostly only experimental bulk data can be measured as opposed to the actual forces implemented in the model. There is a risk that there are fewer experimental well defined and understood parameters than the parameters in the model leading to an under defined problem which makes validation challenging.
The step towards multi-materials food printing
3D food printing is a novel technique of producing food with a unique range of benefits. One can think of personalized nutrition where nutritional needs are tailored to your specific person and not just broadly, but on a day-to-day basis in combination with health apps monitoring your eating and sporting habits. A step further, and of great interest for nursing
“Fresh produce, less waste and a more natural diet”
homes and hospitals, is medical nutrition where not only nutria needs are more important but one can also think of incorporating drugs and drugs delivery systems. It also opens up a whole new range of possible products for industry since limitation on the shape of a product and the ingredient used are lessened through 3D food printing. Since 3D printing in itself is an on-demand technology the whole distribution of food substances can change leading to more fresh produce, less waste and a more natural diet.
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