It’s a well-known phenomenon that sick people often lose their appetite for food. This applies especially to patients with cancer who often also have difficulty swallowing.
These patients often have to make do with a diet composed of liquidised foods or pureed products – which can be rather monotonous in the long run.
However, help may be on the way. A new project involving Denmark’s Technological Institute that started a year ago has been developing 3D printing capacity so that, for example, your mashed potato can be transformed into something looking like a pizza – with all the nutrients added that the patient needs, reports Ingeniøren.
“Up until now the use of 3D printing technology in food has been largely confined to gimmicky things such as making chocolate prints for wedding cakes. Now we’re taking it a step further and printing a whole meal ‘on demand’,” said Mia Fiilsøe Falkeborg who is steering the project.
“We would like to be able to offer meals that look rather more inviting,” she added.
Speeding up slow food
However, one of the main stumbling blocks so far has been the fact that most 3D printers are relatively slow.
The technological institute has constructed a new 3D printer in collaboration with Aarhus University and the 3D printer company Create it Real, which is bigger than conventional printers and has the possibility of printing a lot faster.
It is envisioned that once a doctor has determined their dietary requirements, patients will be able to use an iPad from their bed to choose between a range of meals that fit in with their taste, inclination and nutritional needs.
The printer will be tested over a four-year period at Aarhus University Hostpital.