Cheese is one of the most popular and versatile foods ever created, since it goes with just about everything, from pizza to hamburgers. So it was inevitable that someone would see what would happen if they tried to 3D print cheesy confections. The scientists at the University College, Cork, Ireland set about seeing what 3D printing cheese would look like, according to Gizmodo. The results, so far, have been less than hoped for.
The process consisted of heating the cheese up to 75 degrees Celsius (167 degrees Fahrenheit) and then squirting it through the nozzle of a printer that had been retrofitted to accept the product. The result was something that was gooier and darker than the original product and had difficulty keeping its shape. The process of extruding the cheese through the printer changed the molecular structure of the cheese from a solid row of proteins to something a little less stable.
The results suggest that more research is needed before we can render our cheese into unusual shapes using 3D printing techniques. One method that has not been tried yet is reducing the cheese to powder form and then rendering it out with a binding agent to create shapes. Researchers will, no doubt, try different types of cheese to see how the process affects their molecular structure and will seek to develop a printer that does not alter the cheese in such a way.
3D printers have used cheese to create other foods, including pizza, as a result of a NASA-funded project. So cheese is already being printed successfully, just not by itself.