A company is tackling an environmental issue using 3D printing using a food strategy.
Barcelona-based Nova Meat is a startup that is working in the field of food 3D printing. Specifically, they are developing a system that can 3D print steaks.
Vegetarian 3D Printed Steaks
They’re not using actual meat, however, as the ingredients are entirely vegetarian. Their goal is to produce a 3D printed meat substitute that has both the texture and taste of actual meat.
Their project also addresses environmental concerns. It’s said that beef production in particular is placing a burden on the environment due to the scale of activity. The production of meat involves first growing plants that are then fed to the animals, creating an inefficiency in the process.
Not only are large areas of land dedicated to beef production, but the animals themselves emit a surprisingly large amount of greenhouse gases, with methane at the top of the list. Methane is 20X more potent at “greenhousing” than common CO2.
Nova Meat hopes to change all that.
Nova Meat Bioprinting
Nova Meat’s founder, Guiseppe Scionti, began as a bioprinting specialist. In that role he sought solutions to 3D printing viable tissue, something many researchers have been working on. Once Scionti developed a technique for doing so, he realized this could perhaps be a solution for food production: instead of bioprinting “parts” for humans, make meat for consumption instead.
The problem was that existing solutions were able to 3D print “meat” that either had good taste or good texture, but not both. That’s the problem Nova Meat intends to solve.
3D Printed Meat Texture and Taste
The device used to 3D print the meat seems to be a variation of bioprinters we’ve seen elsewhere. This makes sense because when you think about it, human tissue is just another kind of meat, so the technology to produce it should be similar.
One thing they may have to work on is the appearance of the meat. It’s one thing to not have the carbonization on the surface, but quite another to see layer lines and extrusion threads. Having seen this effect for many years on thermoplastic 3D prints, I suspect this pattern appearing on my food might spoil my appetite slightly.
Here you can see a glimpse of the future, where a familiar 3D print slicing system apparently is preparing a beefsteak for 3D printing. I suspect when this project becomes more real, specialized slicing systems will be developed that could include functionality specifically dedicated to meat design and 3D printing. For example, one could 3D print a steak “chewy”, or “soft”, etc.
It seems that at this point Nova Meat is in the startup phase and it’s not clear what type and level of funding is backing them. While the idea of 3D printed meat is clearly a novel and rare activity these days, it’s likely that this approach will become significantly more popular in years forward.
Via Nova Meat