3D printing guide

The glossary of 3D food printing: Part 1

Here you will find the main terms used in digital manufacturing and 3D food printing in the form of a glossary. In any case the ones we use on a daily basis. We tried to be the most exhaustive but we probably lack entries … So don’t hesitate to write to us to complete it! The lexicon is broken down into two parts: here you find all the definitions from A to N. For all the words in the glossary covering the letters O to Z, go to our second article!  

Letter A

ABS: ABS plastic is the acronym for styrene butadiene butaean it. It is part of the family of thermoplastic polymers. This is the most commonly used material in home 3D printing on 3D FDM printers. The fusion temperature of the ABS is around 200 degrees. This allows it to be used as punches (mold positives) in thermoformes.

3D acquisition: 3D acquisition is the technique of creating a 3D file using a 3D scanner. A 3D scanner or 3D scanner is a 3D scanning and acquisition device. It allows a 3D scan to be used to collect data on a physical object, including its shape and texture. 3D scanners are frequently used to create synthetic 3D files, especially for 3D printing. There are different scanning techniques and many software to clean scan files (noise removal etc…). Smartphone 3D cameras are now enabled to make 3D acquisitions through applications.

Letter B

Binder Jetting: Binder Jetting is the English word for the binding projection. It is a common 3D printing technology, allowing for detailed 3D objects. In 3D food printing, it is mainly used to aggregate sugar. An automated roller is used to distribute a thin layer of powder on the manufacturing platform. The print head applies a liquid binder to the powder, creating a layer of the object. Then, the printing platform goes down slightly to allow the addition of a new layer of powder. The process is thus repeated until the creation of the object.

Bio Printing: 3D bioprinting is the printing of tissues from living cells. This very complex type of 3D printing is booming in terms of research, and applications for the medical sector. For food, several countries are working on the subject especially for 3D printed meat. To do this, bio-inks were printed in a medium containing growth factors for the cells. The research involves the printing of ligaments, tissues and organs. 

Biopolymers: Biopolymers are the polymers produced by living organisms. Biopolymers are as opposed to synthetic polymers manufactured by the chemical industry. The most well-known biopolymer in 3D printing is PLA. It is produced from lactic acid, itself obtained from corn starch. It has properties comparable to synthetic plastics such as polystyrene. Polyethylene can also be obtained by biomass fermentation. Another well-known biopolymer is ethylcellulose.

Print nozzle: see its synonym – extruder

Letter C

Production rate: This is the efficiency speed of a given production line in the number of units per hour. Can 3D printing compete with the production rates currently known in the industry? The answer is YES for certain types of shapes and design. It is used in aeronautics, orthodontics or automobiles to produce millions of parts. But it will not be competitive compared to an injection chain optimized for a simple design. Simply put: 3D printing is used in production when it is cheaper compared to other manufacturing techniques. 

CAD: This is the acronym for Computer-Assisted Design. This term refers to all software and modeling techniques that allow objects to be designed using a computer. They can be 2D objects or three-dimensional objects. File design is the crucial first step before any printing. It strongly determines the result obtained for the final object. 

Caramel printed in 3D: several projects have worked on printing 3D objects from sugar. Candyfab is the DIY project carried out between 2006 and 2009. More recently, the University of Laval in Canada has created caramel-printed structures to support bioprinting. 

SD card: This is a small removable memory card created in the 2000s and commonly used for personal 3D printers. Often these machines are not connectable to a network and the Printable File Gcode must be loaded onto the SD card, which is then swiped into the 3D printer. 

Chef: Haute cuisine would be nothing without the inventiveness and creativity of the chefs. The same goes for 3D food printing. It is just another technique available to them to invent new textures and new experiences in the mouth. 

3D printed chocolate: this is the material that has produced the most commercial applications to date in 3D printing. Several companies sell printers dedicated to chocolate: in France it is the company 3DessertsGraphiques by Nadine Briallon. We can also mention the Chocoformer in Germany or Chocolate3 in Switzerland, or the Cadbury project in Australia among the new ones of the year!

Food contact: The ability to contact food is a material that is capable of meeting specific food standards and guarantees a lack of toxicity when used (under normal conditions). Several plastics used in 3D printing are deemed inert and certified for food contact. But they are not very numerous in comparison to the number of materials available. The two 3D printing materials suitable for food contact are polyamide (nylon) in SLS technology and some PLas used in FDM. 

Temperature control: Temperature control is one of the crucial parameters for 3D food printing for several reasons. First, for health reasons to avoid any risk of microbial proliferation. Also, because food materials have highly temperature-sensitive physical and chemical properties (e.g. properties of tempered or untempered chocolate) that have a direct impact on the result of printing. Finally, because the temperature of the print bed will contribute to the solidity of the print and help to limit the risk of collapse. Food 3D printers are therefore equipped with several sensors in order to maintain strict control of the temperature of the material, the printing head and the printing bed. 

Cookie Cutter: Cookie cutter is the English term for cookie cutter. This is one of the most direct applications of 3D plastic printing for the kitchen. It is indeed easy to create from a two-dimensional design an extruded shape that can then be used as a cutout or a buffer. However, there are a few principles that we will soon detail in a dedicated article

3D printing layer: A layer represents a thin, flat individual section of the object being created. Before being printed, the geometry of the 3D object is cut into many of these horizontal slices or layers. It is then made in an orderly sequence, with each layer adhering to the previous one located below. The more layers for a given object, the finer they are. And the better the vertical resolution of the object produced.

Vacuum casting: this is a manufacturing process using soft silicone moulds in which a low-pressure material is poured. As there are food-type silicones, it is quite easy to use this technology to make molded 3D parts. 3D printing is often used as a mold positive in this process. Some 3D-printable resins are used directly to print the injection mold, but they are not suitable for food contact. So we have to do it in several stages.  

Letter D

Water Jet Cutting: Waterjet cutting is a manufacturing process that cuts material through the projection of water under very high pressure. This digital technique works like 3D printing or laser cutting from a computer-designed file. Several waterjet cutting models for food are on the market. In pastry, they are used in particular to make chocolate cutting, shortbread or even entremets already mounted in frame. 

Laser Cutting: Laser Cutting is a digital subtractive manufacturing technique that involves cutting and burning material using a laser. It is often used in addition to 3D printing. Laser cutting can be done on different materials, such as plastic, wood, cardboard but also some food materials… The process involves cutting or engraving materials using a powerful and very precise laser that focuses on a small area. The focus of the laser beam allows the temperature of the material to be raised until it is melted or vaporized. A computer directs the laser and trace the cutting path. In food, this process is reserved for small areas because it amounts to charring the material. Digital Gastronomy researchers use the laser to customize the flavour of a meringue to suit a diner’s tastes. 

Pulp/wire deposit: The paste deposit or wire deposition technique is the basic process for FDM printers. This is also the case for extrudeuses used in industrial food production. By numerical control, a quantity of material deposited according to a speed and a drawing is deposited on a flat surface. You can also refer to the FDM article. 

Food Design: This is part of the work of designers that is interested in how food is presented and consumed, and more generally at mealtime. Let’s take an example: how to eat better is part of Food Design’s thinking. The designer will look for a range of tools to address this problem, beyond the processes commonly used in food today. Naturally, designers have been interested in the benefits of 3D printing to change the way we eat.

Sleeve: The socket is one of the favorite tools of pastry chefs! It is a conic-shaped object that allows a quantity of dough to be deposited according to a given diameter and a precise shape. It is hung on a socket pocket that has a wide open and allows to store the preparation. We use these every day to poach, train and decorate. Several student food 3D printing projects have started with the principle of automating the movements of a socket – a pocket on the X and Y planes. The socket can be brought closer to the 3D printing nozzle. 

Dysphagia: It is a swallowing disorder that is present in many people and leads to poor diet. The European PERFORMANCE – (Personalised Food Using Rapid Manufacturing for the Nutrition of Elderly Consumers) project aimed to develop foods with high nutritional value for elderly people with dysphagia and Chewing. Foodjet markets the results of this program.

Letter E

Layer thickness: We will find the presence of this filament on the parts made in the wire deposit on the final part. Stairs will be visible and will depend on the thickness of the layer used.  The original diameter of the filament varies between 1.75 and 3 mm. Once extruded by the print head, the thickness of the layers can vary approximately 50 to 400 microns, and depends on the accuracy of the printer.

Extrudetor: The 3D printing head is the part of a 3D printer that ejects a material in a liquid or semi-liquid form in order to deposit it in successive layers in the 3D printing volume.

In the case of binder jetting, the printing head is only used to place a binder that solidifies a material in powder form. The printing head on FDM printers is the part that removes the plastic filament or paste in a more or less liquid form and places it on the printing tray in successive layer additions. Several parts make up the print head. Among them are an engine to drive the filament and a nozzle to extrude the material to a certain diameter. In the case of 3D food printing, the temperature of the nozzle is often controllable in order to manage the viscosity and/or properties of the material (e.g. temper the chocolate during 3D printing).

Ethylcellulose: Ethylcellulose is a derivative of cellulose, a biopolymer found in plants. It is used as a food additive under the name E462. Several research laboratories have conducted ethylcellulose printing experiments. You can refer to our 4D printing section to see our own essays. 

Letter F

Additive Manufacturing: Additive Manufacturing is the learned term for 3D printing. It refers to different processes for physically rendering 3D objects, described by their computer-aided design (CAO) data. Additive Manufacturing is possible in several materials without tools, without a block of raw material, and in a short implementation time. He opposes subtractive manufacturing techniques.

FabLab: A Fab Lab (contraction of FABrication LABoratory) is a digital manufacturing location. It is equipped with computer-controlled machines and run by a community of mutual aid. To earn the official name of Fab Lab, the space must respect the charter established by MIT. Many FabLabs have worked on 3D food printing, including paste extrusion in FDM machines.

Global hunger: Nearly one billion people worldwide are undernourished. This is despite sufficient agricultural production to feed the entire planet. To think that 3D food printing can meet this challenge alone is a joke. But it can surely help solve the problem. how? By allowing everyone to eat better, using the right amount of food material needed and allowing the personalized addition of nutrients to meet the needs of the consumer. Will it be good and beautiful to eat? That’s the challenge! 

FDM: This is the English acronym for Fused Deposition Modeling. This term is commonly used in French to refer to the deposit of yarn. This is arguably the most popular 3D printing process due to its availability in the 3D printer market, aimed at the general public as well as professionals. 3D wire-deposit printing is a more affordable alternative than other 3D printing technologies. This process involves melting a filament and placing it layer by layer using a printing nozzle. There are mainly two types of Cardian FDM printers (XY mobile tray and Z-disown mobile print head) or delta (fixed tray and xYZ mobile nozzle)

3D file: A 3D file is a computer file representing a three-dimensional object. It is designed from a 3D model and its usefulness is to gather the information necessary to allow the printing of the desired object with a 3D printer. The creation of 3D files is done by the CAD (Computer-Assisted Design).

Filament: The filament is the form in which the material for supplying 3D wire-based printers (FDM) is located. This filament is usually marketed in coils. The machine’s engine will drive the filament to power the extrusion nozzle. It will then deposit the semi-melted material according to a prescribed pattern. For thermoplastics, the original diameter of the filament varies between 1.75 and 3 mm. There are filaments of composite materials that will then be destroyed during a cooking phase. This is the case for FDC ceramic 3D printing technology. 

Fondant: This is a commonly used ingredient in pastry. It is composed of sugar, water and glucose. It is used for icing cakes, cupcakes etc… Several opensource projects have sought to 3D print fondant. The best known is the Frostruder made by Makerbot users. Several marketed 3D printers also offer the possibility of printing fondant.

Forming: Forming is a manufacturing process that involves giving shape to a part. Several forming methods exist in the industry: thermoforming, vacuum forming, pressure forming, etc. Not all of them are used by food. The forming consists of working a sheet of matter using heat, pressure as well as male and female shapes to create the desired shape. The disadvantage of this process is that it only controls one side of the part produced. 

Selective Laser Frittage: This is the French term for SLS technology. 

Letter G

Gcode: Gcode is the control language used for digitally controlled machines (CNC, cutting, 3D printer). It compiles all the operations to be performed for the machine in terms of movement, extrusions, speed based on the ribs of the object indicated in the 3D file (CAO or STL). It also provides control information such as the temperature of the nozzle or the speed of extrusion/retraction. Slicing software, also known as slicers, is used to generate Gcode from a 3D file.  

Ice and Ice: 3D printing of ice and ice is one of the recurring projects in research laboratories. One example is the MacGill University project called IceRap. It’s a variation of a RepRap printer to make 3D objects out of ice). The Dream Pops project has made 3D printing moulds for ice cream, sold in 2018 at Starbucks. 

Letter H

Hack: It is an English term for manipulating a system to obtain a different application from the one for which it was originally designed. No 3D printer was originally designed to make food; but for the construction of prototypes from photopolymers. Fortunately, many open source projects exist in digital manufacturing. They allowed the hacking of some 3D printers without violating patent or intellectual property rights… 

Print height: The maximum dimensions of 3D printed objects are one of the big topics for 3D printer manufacturers. Houses can now be printed quickly by depositing concrete “filaments.” On the other side of the scale, there are nano-printers, capable of making very complex shapes the size of a hair. In the 3D food printing, we can mention the Chocoformer de la Hochschule for Technik Rapperswil. It makes it possible to make 3D chocolate objects up to 200 x 200 x 200 mm.

Letter I

3D printing: 3D printing is also called additive manufacturing. See our article on definitions.

4D printing: 4D printing is the term used to make 3D objects that can change shape under the effect of an external stimulus. The discipline was created by MIT in 2013. To do this, researchers are developing metamaterials or metamorphic materials. In 2017 the MIT Media Lab published a 4D food printing project under the name Transformative appetite. The aim was to print ethylcellulose on gelatin films. At The Digital Pastry, we wanted to reproduce the results as you can see in the video below:  

3D Printer: A 3D printer is a digitally controlled machine that allows a 3D model to be transposed into solid material. See our article on definitions.

Ingredients: A cooking ingredient is a substance, including food additives, used in the manufacture or preparation of a food and present in the finished product. The list of ingredients present in a 3D printable material will influence its physical-chemical properties but also its organoleptic qualities. One of the problems of 3D food printing is therefore to reconcile printability and taste quality.  

Letter L

Laser: This is an optical system commonly used in digital manufacturing to cut, engrave or fuse materials. Low-power lasers are used to treat food materials. A research team from Columbia University is working on a new 3D printer model. It combines the paste deposit with immediate laser cooking. 

3D Modeling Software: Modeling software is a computer program that allows you to simply create 3D models. 3D modeling is the modern way of sculpting objects, using specific software and a virtual space instead of the scalpel and hammer. This makes this process faster and much less messy. This process represents a mathematically three-dimensional object. There is a wide range of 3D modeling software, more or less complete, for the general public or for specialized professional software for an industry. There are open source and free software up to licenses of tens of thousands of euros… The use of this or that software does not bode well for the 3D model. 

Letter M

Machining : Machining machines are part of the large family of digitally controlled tools, as is 3D printing. Unlike additive manufacturing, machining consists of manufacturing by removing material (e.g. drilling, milling and turning). These techniques can be used on just about any type of material, and they are already used on a daily basis by some pastry chefs as an aid to their manual work. For example, we had the opportunity to see meringue pieces reworked at the Dremmel. 

Massepain: it is a food close to the almond paste. It is composed of almond powder, egg white and sugar. The term marzipan is used in Germany. The marzipan makes it possible to make small decorative subjects in pastry. It is a material that lends itself well to direct 3D printing through the wire/paste deposition process. 

Material: A 3D printing material is the material used by the printer to make the object. It can be a powder that is clumped by fusion or a binder. It can also be a material that is extruded to deposit in the form of filament or droplets. The list of food materials already tested in direct 3D printing is to be discovered in our special article on materials (to come). You will already find some in this list: chocolate, marzipan, fondant…

Micrometre: The micrometer is a measure of length. 1 micrometer is 0.001 millimetres. The micrometer is the measure used to define print resolution and layer thickness for many professional 3D printers. In the field of 3D food printers, we work more often in millimetres. 

Millimeter: The millimeter is a measure of length that we use more commonly in 3D food printing. This is as opposed to the micrometer which is more used in the industry. There’s a 000 millimeter in a metre. 

3D model: The 3D model of an object is its three-dimensional representation. It is made on a computer using modeling software. Industries such as architecture, civil engineering, video games, animation, and simulation use these virtual tools every day. The 3D model is the origin of any 3D printing. From this model we create a 3D file compatible with printing. This file then aggregates the control information for the 3D printer. 

3D Modeling: 3D modeling is a computer-aided design technique that reproduces or creates an object in the form of a 3D image. It allows you to get a 3D file. The 3D modeling phase is crucial for 3D printing. A number of rules should be followed for the creation of volumes and final mesh in order to obtain a compliant result. There are many 3D modeling software.  

Casting: Injection molding is a manufacturing process that involves softening a material by heating it and then injecting it into a mold. Once in the mould, the material cools and solidifies. Finally, the piece is ejected out of the mould manually or through a mechanism. Chocolate makers and pastry chefs commonly use this method of making. It allows fine details to be achieved and surface conditions of very good quality. To start, however, you need to have a mould with the right shape. 

Multijet Fusion: Multi Jet Fusion is an additive manufacturing technology developed by Hewlet-Packard (HP). It consists of an addition of 2 binders (1 color and one melting agent) in a powder followed immediately by an infrared lamp heater. The bound powder is then fused and solidifies to create the 3D object. This process quickly gained market share in 3D printing thanks to its speed and reliability.

Letter N

NASA: it is the acronym for the U.S. Aerospace Agency (National aeronautics and space administration). NASA has made a significant contribution to the development of 3D printing through the Made in Space program. It aims to manufacture in space the maximum number of applications with the minimum of resources. One of the components is the feeding of spacecraft. NASA has invested $125,000 to fund the development of a 3D pizza printer for the International Space Station. 

Nutrition: Nutrition studies how humans process the foods they have consumed to ensure the functioning of their body and brain. As such, she studies the relationship between diet and the health of individuals. Improving and personalizing the nutritional profile of our meals is one of the great benefits of 3D food printing. 

And here’s the end of the first part of our 3D Food Printing glossary. We hope you’ve learned a lot! Please contact us if you would like us to add other definitions. To find the second part of the glossary of 3D food printing, it’s here.

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