Unbrielevable! Scientists create 3D-printed CHEESE and say it tastes just as good as the real thing
- Nutritional scientists from University College Cork ran the experiments
- They melted processed cheese at 75°C (167°F) for 12 minutes
- When the cheese was run through a 3D printer, it became softer and more fluid
- The researchers say the taste of the cheese remains unchanged by printing
Whether paired with a nice red wine or atop a humble burger, cheese can be a delicious treat for any occasion.
But it is not, perhaps, the ideal material to use in printing - unless you are a team of nutritional scientists.
One intrepid group of researchers used 3D-printing to create a cheese that is softer, springier and more fluid when melted than processed varieties.
And the cheese could provide valuable insight for engineers who are still developing materials for 3D printing.
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A team of scientists from University College Cork tested the effects of 3D printing cheese on its micro-structure. They found that the process results in a softer, springier and more fluid cheese (stock image)
Cheese that was 3D printed was 45 per cent to 49 per cent softer than the untreated processed cheese.
They also discovered that 3D-printed cheese was a little darker in colour, a bit springier and more fluid when melted.
It melted at about the same temperature as untreated cheese.
A team from the school of food and nutritional sciences at University College Cork (UCC) conducted a series of tests evaluating the texture, resilience and 'meltability' of 3D-printed cheese.
3D print materials need to be fluid enough to flow through a nozzle but also capable of settling into a definite shape and structure.
After melting the cheese at 75°C (167°F) for 12 minutes, the UCC team then ran it through a modified commercial 3D printer.
The machine, which usually prints with plastic, was fitted with a syringe to allow it to print with their melted cheese.
Food which has been used for 3D printing undergoes stresses which can change its micro-structure, firstly when it is heated and then when it squeezed out through a nozzle.
The UCC team used several techniques to examine the effects of the 3D printing process on their cheese.
They compared the 3D-printed results to processed cheese that had been melted and then cooled in a cylinder, as well as another sample that was left untouched.
Cheese that was 3D printed was 45 per cent to 49 per cent softer than the untreated processed cheese, the researchers said.
The team tested four different types of cheese and found variations in the size and distribution of fat globules. Clockwise from top: Fresh cheese (FC), melted cheese (MC), low-speed printed cheese (LSPC) and high-speed printed cheese (HSPC)
They also discovered that 3D-printed cheese was a little darker in colour, a bit springier and more fluid when melted, though it melted at about the same temperature as untreated cheese.
Changes in the protein network of the cheese are thought to be responsible.
The findings were published in the journal Science Direct.
The inspiration for the investigation was a question posed by a cheese manufacturer.
Food which has been used for 3D printing undergoes stresses which can change its micro-structure. Cheese that has been 3D printed was found to be 45 per cent to 49 per cent softer than the untreated processed cheese (stock image)
They wondered how cheese might be used as a raw material in kitchens that are likely to be equipped with 3D printers in the not-so-distant future, according to reports in Live Science.
Alan Kelly is a professor at UCC in Ireland and one of the study's authors.
Speaking to Live Science, he said: 'It was a very speculative question which made me very curious.
'We actually started by trying lots of different types of cheese, but found processed cheese to work best.
The team used a modified commercial 3D printer, which usually prints with plastic, to print their cheese
The printer was fitted with a specially-designed syringe to allow it to print with their melted cheese
Dr Kelly and his colleagues are now testing other types of dairy products which can be 3D-printed.
Dr Kelly added: 'We are using mixtures of milk proteins at present to build a product, perhaps a high-protein snack, from the basics up, and designing recipes which might work best for [a] 3D printer.
'We are pretty early on to generalise about different food systems, but that makes printing really exciting, as there is enormous potential to explore and innovate.
'But we don't expect any changes in taste.'