How Does 3d Printed Meat Work?
The culinary industry has printed a range of edible objects from cakes to pizzas, but now they're taking on a much bigger undertaking.
The goal of 3D-printed meat is to solve three major issues: lowering greenhouse gas emissions, providing a sustainable protein supply for all consumers, and promoting a cruelty-free method of meeting meat demand. Let's take a peek at the food industry's cutting-edge technology.
It is not an exaggeration to state that the world has seen incredible advancements in alternative meat production technologies in the last two years. If phrases like "3D printed vegan meat" or "meat 3D printed in space" sounded like science fiction a decade ago, they are now not only feasible but are happening.
Given the world's environmental catastrophe and the rapid depletion of natural resources, sustainability is no longer merely a selling point, but a critical business strategy.
Generally speaking, 3D printing meat is similar to printing filament with a standard FDM 3D printer in that a viscous material is deposited onto a surface to generate a final product. This vision has come to life, specifically when it comes to 3D printing meat, thanks to a technology known as Proprietary Tissue Engineering Process.
This method works by isolating and growing bovine stem cells from a tissue sample until they reach an appropriate cellular mass.
Stem cells are formed into a bio-ink and then employed in a 3D bioprinter after they reach this mass.
You can then actually produce a steak and place it in an incubator to grow using a digital model of a steak structure. The cells finally differentiate into fat and muscle cells throughout this maturation period.
As bioprinting and cultivation technology progress, it will soon be hard to tell the difference between a steak that is virtually bioprinted and one that is not.
Finding the perfect meat substitute appears to be a puzzle. It's not only about the flavor of the meat, enthusiasts considering a switch to "3D-printed meats" will expect the same texture, softness, and odor.
More importantly, scientists believe that the specific composition of meat is responsible for the desire for it. It hasn't been simple recreating such powerful stimuli, but the results will continue to turn heads as the procedures improve and capital comes into the alternative meats business. As a result, an increasing number of companies have begun to invest in the creation of 3D printed beef alternatives in recent years.
Some choose to produce their meat filaments. Others prefer to develop a vegan filament that tastes and feels like a real steak. There are options for everyone, and these may soon be the selections in our grocery stores and butcher shops, replacing standard steaks and other meats. Let's have a look at some of the companies you might support in the future!
- Redefine Meat: selling printers, not steaks
Redefine Meat revealed the world's first plant-based Alt-Steak and began commercial testing last year at select high-end eateries. Alt-Steak products, which are made with Redefine Meat's patent-pending 3D meat printing technology, have the texture, flavor, and appearance of beefsteak and can be created at a low enough cost to allow for large-scale production.
Redefine Meat was able to digitally imprint more than 70 sensory factors into its Alt-Steak products after conferring with prominent butchers, chefs, food scientists, and taste experts, including premium beef cuts' texture, juiciness, fat distribution, and even mouthfeel. Using Redefine Meat's Alt-Muscle, Alt-Fat, and Alt-Blood plant-based formulations, the company's patented industrial-scale 3D food printers layer by layer generate the Alt-Steak products.
Redefine Meat can make sustainable, high-protein, low-cholesterol steaks that appear, cook, and taste like beef by printing with several materials.
Redefine Meat's Alt-Steak products have been put to the test in several top chef restaurants. The company has also ramped up manufacturing of its 3D meat printers and alt-meat formulas, taking into account comments from high-level chefs and butchers. It's important to note that the company only intends to sell the technology and ingredients, not the meat itself.
- Aleph Farms: cell-based 3D printed meat
Aleph Farms, an Israeli startup, is one of the forerunners in this emerging market. In 2018, it developed BioFarm, a scalable manufacturing 3D tissue engineering platform for cultivating whole-muscle steaks, and manufactured the world's first slaughter-free steak made from cow cells.
It opened a 65,000-square-foot plant at the Stratasys building in Rehovot earlier this year. It has expanded its cultivated meat portfolio by introducing a new cell-cultured collagen product line (due to hit the market in 2024) made from the cells of living cows, which eliminates the need to slaughter animals in the process.
It also discovered a system that simulates the natural process of muscle regeneration that occurs inside the cow's body, but in a controlled environment. Unlike plant-based 3D printed meat, this method uses bovine cells to mimic the flavor, texture, and appearance of meat.
Their novel method involves combining cells such as fat cells, muscle fibers, blood vessel cells, and others to create a bio-ink that can be used in 3D bioprinting.
- NOVA MEAT: vegan and sustainable
This Spanish company is well-known for its 3D-printed vegan meat. NOVA MEAT's method essentially reorganizes the nanofibers from vegetable proteins so that they appear to be animal proteins.
They utilize a bioprinter to create a vegetarian filament consisting of peas, seaweed, and rice that has a meat-like taste and texture. The Barcelona-based business recently unveiled its 3D-printed pork skewer 2.0. The manufacturer employed a mixture of pea extract, rice extract, extra-virgin olive oil, brown seaweed extract, beet juice concentrate, and a natural scent to create it.
Through its technology, NOVA MEAT hopes to contribute to a more compassionate and sustainable global food system. Guiseppe Scionti, the company's CEO and co-founder, says the company is "tuning the flavorings and improving sustainability" by "trying alternative components (proteins, fibers, and oils)."
This technique has been proven to work with a wide range of ingredients which helps to preserve diversification and counter unsustainable cultivation and deforestation.
- MeaTech: production in large quantities
MeaTech is a newcomer to the competition for the best 3D-printed meat. This Israeli firm focuses on industrial 3D printing of meat. Starting with T-cells from an umbilical cord, it takes a new approach.
The company extracts several "inks" like muscle, fat, and structure, which are then 3D printed and incubated while growing. MeaTech's goal, like Aleph Farms', is to recreate the texture and composition of certain cuts of meat.
The company's goal, according to Sharon Fima, CEO and co-founder, is to generate units swiftly, one every few seconds, and to demonstrate that industrial-scale 3D printing of beef is possible.
Companies promising a revolution in meat production and consumption may have you wondering when their goods will leave the lab and "enter" your kitchen. According to some industrial companies, such as MeaTech, 3D printing meat is still in its early stages of development and will be ready for mass consumption in 2-3 years. So don't expect to find 3D-printed meat in your neighborhood store anytime soon.
It is perfectly fine to eat 3D printed meat as long as they've been cooked in a clean atmosphere with a suitable machine (as with any other kitchen). In addition to generating amazing-looking meals, 3D printed meat has the following advantages:
- Customizing meals
3D printed beef enables precise control of the variety and amount of minerals, vitamins, and calories in each meal. This could be particularly useful in hospitals, where restricted diets are more usual, and it allows for easy patient customization.
The 3D meat printer has the brilliant idea of being self-contained. Only an operator is required to start the program and complete the final steps. Your teams will have more time to focus on other production activities because it prints autonomously in 3D.
In the kitchen, launching the 3D meat printer after the session and retrieving the created goods, ready to use for the following service, is an excellent scenario. As a result, the 3D meat printing step can be more simply incorporated into the implementation plan.
- Easy replication
It might be as simple as sending a digital file over the internet to share recipes. Only the same raw ingredients, printing settings, and suitable printing equipment would be required.
Drawbacks to 3D Meat Printing
With all of these fascinating benefits, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that 3D printing food has certain drawbacks.
- Limited materials
It is currently impossible to print any material using a 3D printer. This restriction applies to both plastic and metal printers, as well as meat 3D printers. For starters, it has to do with printing technology. Not all substances containing fibers compacted into textiles (usually meats) can be 3D printed in their natural state.
- Size of the prints
The bulk of 3D printers, whether for commercial or home use, have restricted manufacturing capacities. With this technology, it's difficult to envision producing a meter-long 3D beef!
When you need to create a piece that is larger than the machine's printing volume, divide the design into many parts that can be combined by nesting or gluing. This necessitates additional labor during the finishing process to hide the seams between the parts.
The same constraint applies to 3D meat printers as it does to all other 3D printers.
3D meat printing technology is sensitive, they are frequently destroyed during handling and post-processing of the food.
- It is inconvenient to use
The technique for 3D food printing needs high-voltage power, requires specialized equipment, and has parts that make it difficult to control or even use.
The reasons for switching from regular meat to 3D printed meat are numerous.
To begin with, moving away from traditional slaughterhouses will significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions, which are a major contributor to global warming. The traditional meat business (together with agriculture) creates 9% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Printing meat is a positive start toward mitigating human-induced global warming.
Traditional slaughterhouses have also been criticized for being inhumane. When meat is printed, companies can meet the demand for their product without worrying about the ethics of meat production.
All clients, vegans and carnivores alike, are satisfied with 3D-printed meat. Producers can develop their product in a lab to mimic the texture and flavor of a real steak without using cows, or they can make a plant-based mixture to mimic the texture and flavor of a steak without using any tissue at all. Everyone is thrilled with 3D-printed meat: meat-eaters, environmental activists, and animals.
Many people wonder, as they do with any new technology, where it will all lead, both for the better and for the worst. It's crucial to be practical, even if it's thrilling.
3D printed foods, according to the creators of numerous meat 3D printing startups, might be a part of our daily life in only a few years. They plan to supply meat 3D printers to supermarkets in the coming years, with the possibility of selling them to the general public a few years later.
Food 3D printers capable of 3D printing pizzas can already be ordered online, thus this may potentially generate a market for entirely home-printed meats in the not-too-distant future.