3D printing of dairy-based ingredients and investigation into Irish consumer acceptance of 3D food printing applications

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Ross, Megan M.
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University College Cork
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Three-dimensional (3D) food printing is a type of additive manufacture in which foods with certain rheological characteristics are mechanically layered to create 3D structures from a digitally model. 3D food printing can potentially offer consumers a range of benefits, such as personalised nutrition, customisable textures and unique structures and shapes. This multidisciplinary thesis outlines research completed in three key areas: engineering, food science and consumer science, reflecting the importance of evaluating 3D food printing in this holistic manner. The primary objectives of this work was three-fold: (1) to develop a practical 3D food printer design suitable for printing dairy-based ingredients; (2) to identify and develop suitable dairy-based recipes and investigate factors affecting their printability; and (3) to explore determinants of Irish consumer willingness to try 3D food printing applications. The rationale behind two selected 3D food printer designs (Cartesian and Delta), as well as a brief comparison between the functionality of both designs, are reported. The effects of printing parameters (i.e., nozzle diameter, distance to print bed, print speed etc.) on print quality are also discussed. Certain physicochemical factors such as pH and structural protein content were found to significantly affect the printability and texture of a basic processed cheese recipe. Samples with a higher pH (pH 5.8) tended to print less accurate grids and were significantly softer and less gummy, chewy and resilient than those with lower pH (≤ pH 5.6). Printed processed cheese recipes formulated with fresh curd (high structural protein content) resulted in significantly harder prints, yet printed grids inaccurately due to the material dragging during printing. Viscosity profiles were created for each processed cheese recipe using rheological methods and correlated with absolute printing precision values to identify a range of suitable recipes for accurate printing. The effect of various factors on the printability and functionality of Micellar Casein Concentrate (MCC) suspensions was also investigated. Increasing calcium chloride concentration (5 mM) of suspensions lead to significantly harder printed samples, which had lower dissolution and solubility rates than control or printed samples with lower calcium chloride concentration (1 mM). MCC suspensions printed in porous lattice structures were found to dissolve at a quicker rate than those printed in a hemisphere structure due to a higher surface area to volume ratio. An example of possible 3D-printed product concepts demonstrating the potential of MCC as a printing material is presented. In order to achieve a balanced and comprehensive understanding of 3D food printing technology from a number of perspectives, consumer acceptance research was incorporated into this study to compliment the food science and engineering narrative. Using qualitative methods, a series of themes were identified as forming Irish consumers’ perceptions of 3D food printing applications. Consumers’ affinity for naturalness and a strong association for unprocessed, homemade meals were considered barriers to acceptance of 3D-printed foods. As an extension of this study, data from quantitative research further revealed perceived personal relevance as a significant determinant affecting the dependent variable (i.e., willingness to try 3D food printing applications in the food service sector). Trust in science was found to diminish the negative effects of novel food technology neophobia on willingness to try. Potential solutions for negating factors affecting consumer acceptance are also discussed, which may be of benefit to those looking to market 3D food printing applications in the Irish marketplace. The findings from these studies present an opportunity for food sector stakeholders to utilise this knowledge as part of their foundation to build upon and create novel 3D food printer designs and printable formulations which are suitable for acceptance in the consumer market.
3D printing , 3D food printing , Consumer science , Consumer acceptance , Food engineering , Processed cheese , Novel technologies , Micellar casein concentrate , Food Science , Dairy Science , 3D printer , Novel food technology neophobia , Qualitative research , Quantitative research , Survey , Focus group
Ross, M. M. 2022. 3D printing of dairy-based ingredients and investigation into Irish consumer acceptance of 3D food printing applications. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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