AgTech Food Processing FoodTech Milk

3-D printing of milk-based products

3-D printing is a unique way to prepare customised food as per the consumer’s needs. Researchers from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) have developed a method to perform 3-D printing of milk-based products at room temperature, while maintaining its temperature sensitive nutrients.

Milk being rich in temperature sensitive nutrients like calcium and protein, is unsuitable for 3-D printing using selective laser sintering (SLS) and hot-melt extrusion printing methods, which require high temperature. While the cold-extrusion is a viable alternative, it requires rheology modifiers or additives to stabilise printed structures, which is a complex and judicious task.

3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is the construction of a three-dimensional object from a CAD model or a digital 3D model. The term “3D printing” can refer to a variety of processes in which material is deposited, joined or solidified under computer control to create a three-dimensional object, with material being added together (such as liquid molecules or powder grains being fused together), typically layer by layer.


3-D printing of milk-based materials is achieved using a DIW 3-D printer. MuCAD V software was used in conjunction with the DIW printer to control the toolpath and speed of the nozzle. 3-D printable milk inks were formulated without additional rheological modifiers, and 3-D structures were fabricated via cold extrusion using a DIW 3-D printer at room temperature.

The samples of the milk ink were prepared by adding milk powder into deionized water at different weight concentrations. The chocolate ink used in multi-food printing was formulated by mixing 20 w/w% of cocoa powder with chocolate syrup. Samples were then mixed thoroughly and degassed with Thinky Mixer at 25 °C. Other materials used in multi-material printing included maple syrup, blueberry syrup and milk cream, all of which were used as purchased.

Preparation of milk ink

This novel yet simple method can be used in formulating various nutritious foods including those served to patients in hospitals for their special dietary needs.