The new area of application for 3D printers has nothing to do with stamping complex engineering parts. Food printed with such a printer changes the structure of foods so that a person feels fuller while consuming less food.
MIT's CSAIL HCI engineering group has conducted research on how people perceive food and how food structure affects satiety. It has been found that by varying the shape, size and density of food pieces so that it takes up more space on the plate, you can make a person eat a smaller portion and feel full faster. Even the texture of food can affect the feeling of fullness. As it turns out, people tend to consume less food if it is harder to chew - thus spending more time chewing and feeling full sooner.
The researchers used a 3D printer with a special attachment capable of extruding an edible pasty mass instead of plastic. With it, they were able to print ready-to-eat foods that differ in texture and density.
Two independent experiments were conducted: Thirty participants who ate printed food had electromyography sensors attached to their jaws, which measured the time and intensity of chewing. At the end of the experiment, the participants filled out a questionnaire where the degree of their saturation was assessed.
Experimental results have confirmed that changes in density and, as a result, in the overall size of food, can affect a person's perception of hunger levels after eating. Using this data, the researchers developed a comprehensive system called FoodFab that can automatically create food according to the user's preferences or needs. Bodybuilders will be able to tweak FoodFab to print denser 3D products. Those who find it difficult to consume large chunks for medical or other reasons will be able to choose the option to print portions that are easy to chew.