byFlow showcases patented print head technology with 3D printed chocolate

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Food 3D printer manufacturer byFlow has showcased its latest patented technology at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2021 in Antwerp, Belgium. 

The company demonstrated the capabilities of its newly patented print head for fabricating food products by 3D printing personalized chocolate, an ingredient the company identified as being one of the trickiest to produce via additive manufacturing. 

“We first and foremost listened and observed the market,” said Floris Hoff, CTO and Co-founder of byFlow. “An important conclusion was that a lot of interest from our customers in 3D food printing technology has been on personalized chocolate printing.”

A panther silhouette 3D printed with chocolate using byFlow’s patented technology. Photo via byFlow.

Food 3D printing with byFlow

byFlow’s food printing technology has been in development for seven years, and in that time has been showcased at various events and even presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In 2019, the company announced a partnership with Eindhoven-based manufacturer VDL Groep to manufacture and assemble its byFlow 3D printers. Soon after, Rotterdam-based Verstegen Spices & Sauces announced it was to be the first company to use byFlow’s Focus 3D Food Printer with ready-to-use fillings. Verstegen had previously supplied byFlow with gourmet food printing fillings, including flavors such as beetroot and cardamom. 

Since then, byFlow’s 3D printers have been used by researchers from the University of Wageningen and the University of Valencia to produce a selection of micro-algae-based cereal snacks, and have been installed and used around the globe within R&D settings.

Further examples of 3D printed chocolate produced via byFlow's food 3D printer. Photo via byFlow.
Further examples of 3D printed chocolate produced via byFlow’s food 3D printer. Photo via byFlow.

3D printing chocolate with byFlow’s patented technology

byFlow has now been granted a patent in Europe for its food 3D printing system’s print head, with a further patent expected to be granted in the US later this year. 

According to the company, its food 3D printers differ from other systems currently on the market which deposit liquid or paste ingredients and are therefore limited in the ingredients that can be used. Instead, byFlow wanted to develop a system capable of printing complex ingredients such as solid or powered food.

While developing its technology, the company learned that printing with complex ingredients like chocolate was reliant on precise tempering and cooling processing methods. To account for this, the team created a way to measure and adjust the temperature in different zones of its print head to within one-tenth of a degree celsius, while simultaneously automatically adjusting the environmental temperature during printing. 

This enables the company to print with “almost any ingredient” in solid, powder, and liquid form by taking ingredients from a cartridge system, mixing and melting it in a basin on the print head, and extruding the food layer by layer. 

byFlow has demonstrated its newly patented technology by 3D printing personalized chocolate at this year’s The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards.

“We found that this ingredient is one of the hardest to print with, since it is reliant on a precise tempering and cooling process,” said Hoff. “At the same time, it is an exciting ingredient to combine with 3D printing since the characteristics of the ingredient make almost any 3D shape possible.

“I am excited to demonstrate that with our team of engineers, we succeeded in developing a technology that is capable of printing with the most complex ingredients, while at the same time delivering a system that anyone could use, anytime.”

ByFlow's newly patented food 3D printing technology. Photo via byFlow.
ByFlow’s newly patented food 3D printing technology. Photo via byFlow.

The company is also working on other applications for its newly patented technology, with the ultimate aim of creating a 3D printer that can make personalized nutrition possible. Alongside other developments, the firm’s team has successfully experimented with producing 3D printed personalized snacks.

Nina Hoff, CEO and Co-founder of byFlow, and who was named one of the five most talented women in tech in The Netherlands in 2018, added: “We are pleased to be invited to present our latest development which we have worked on for years, to the best chefs in the world during The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards in the ZOO of Antwerp.

“And we very much look forward to establishing new partnerships with food experts to further shape the future of food.”

3D printed chocolate spiral vases. Photo via byFlow.
3D printed chocolate spiral vases. Photo via byFlow.

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Featured image shows 3D printed chocolate “labyrinth cake”. Photo via byFlow.