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SHIFT20 Virtual Event and Expo is where the science of food and food innovation community comes together to share, debate, and discover emerging science, research, insights, thought-leadership, solution providers, and networking opportunities impacting the industry now and into the future.



Go to the profile of Emely Lopez Barrera
Emely Lopez Barrera 7 months ago

Hi Xulei, thank you for such a wonderful presentation. I was wondering: 1) what are the key characteristics of a bio-ink to be functional for 3D printing? 2) are proteins better for 3D printing? and 3) based on your experience with NASA, what are the main requirements for a successful bio-ink to be used in future space missions?

Go to the profile of Xulei Wu
Xulei Wu 7 months ago

Hi Emely, thank you for your interests and followup questions. This project limits the scope to 3D printing based on extrusion. Therefore, the key characteristics are the particle size and viscosity. From what we have tested in this study, there is no significant difference between freeze dried then rehydrated protein and carbohydrate. For future space missions, I think the main requirements for the ink would be the quality stability throughout the shelf life, achieved by initial formulation/processing technology, and packaging technology.

Go to the profile of JUHI PATEL
JUHI PATEL 7 months ago

Hello Xulei, thank you for the presentation! These prototypes look great! My question is, what is the shelf life of these 3D printed prototypes?

Go to the profile of Xulei Wu
Xulei Wu 7 months ago

Hello Juhi, thank you for your question. These prototypes are designed to be consumed upon 3D printing completion. Our strategy to extend shelf life is to supply freeze dried and grinded ingredients, which are shelf-stable until we mix with water in the 3D printer. Depending on the packaging material, it could have a shelf life of a couple of years. The difference from the pre-packaged freeze dried food we currently send to International Space Station, is that our consumers will have the opportunity to supplement the specific nutrient they need and customize the dish based on their own liking in the 3D printer. I hope this answers your question :)

Go to the profile of Susan Parker
Susan Parker 7 months ago

Xulei, thank you for your presentation. It's an interesting and challenging problem. Would the 3D printing be done "on demand" per the space explorer's request? How do the products taste? You did note in the presentation that it was challenging to get the expected texture in certain targets. 

Go to the profile of Xulei Wu
Xulei Wu 7 months ago

Hello Susan, thank you for your interest. It is our goal to cater to each astronauts' need and produce a dish "on demand". Still, lots need to be done until we could implement. In this project, our successful prototypes are dishes that mushy texture is perceived normal. For example, freeze dried hummus with small pieces of crunchy vegetable to increase texture complexity. This is due to the limit of the extrusion technology. I am confident that with other techniques (e.g. auger) becoming available in 3D food printer, we have a much broader choices to produce successful prototypes.