The future meal
Malnutrition is common in older adults due to loss of appetite, chewing and swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) and other age-related conditions that reduces food intake. Malnutrition leads to fatigue and poor quality of life, as well as increased disease prevalence and high health care costs.
3D printing is an innovative technology in the food sector with unique possibilities for automated production of visually appealing foods with tailored consistency, as well as innovative food structures for increased palatability and variation. 3D printing is a very flexible production method which makes it suitable for product customization. The innovative concept is to place small, user-friendly 3D printers in commercial kitchens that supply care units with consistency adjusted foods to prepare attractive, adapted and customized dysphagia meals.
Researchers from Department of Design Sciences, LTH are involved in two parts of this project.
A team from product development division is developing a 3D food printer solution for hygienic food production, especially adapted to the production of consistently adapted food. The solution will be utilized in kitchens that prepare food for dysphagics in nursing homes, hospitals and home care services. By extension, developed 3D printing technology for dysphagic diets can potentially be adapted to home use. In another part, a PhD student from innovation engineering division is exploring business models for new food supply chain for 3D printed food manufacturing. Because the characteristic of 3D printing, its associated supply chain can be very different from both the standardized, mass production-based food industry and from the relatively more customized food prepared by chef in the kitchen, it is important to develop suitable business models for the different parties in the project.
The Sustainable Development Goals
This project aligns well within the UN Sustainable Development Goal #3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, specifically on goal #3.4 to reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being by 2030. It also responds goal #9 to build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.