Everyone loves sweets, and 3D-printed confectionery has become all the rage in the closing months of 2016. More recently, German company Wacker has just announced its latest addition to this growing phenomenon, which is 3D-printed chewing gum. Set to be unveiled at the ProSweets Cologne Fair in early 2017, the Wacker company claims to have reinvented chewing gum with a technology that allows it be printed in a variety of different shapes, sizes, and flavors. Generally, chewing gum is a very complex food matrix with unique physical properties, such as its intrinsic elasticity and high viscosity even at elevated temperatures. This makes fused deposition modeling very challenging. Furthermore, the printed product should be tasty and keep its shape over time.
The Wacker company experts have succeeded in overcoming these challenges by rethinking chewing gum formulations from scratch and optimizing commercially available 3D-printing hardware and software. As a longtime supplier of raw materials for the chewing gum industry, Wacker’s goal spans all manner of customizations for chewing gum. All this is according to Martin Seizl, business development manager at the Wacker company. Wacker is currently still evaluating the possibilities of this new technology, in particular, the differing and variation of colors, shapes and flavors. The new technology also means that any chewing manufactured can be individually personalized. Generally, there is a strong trend toward individualized food products, may it be for commercial purposes such as marketing and advertising or just for personal use.
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This is the beauty and advantage of 3D printing food technology. There’s no definitive word on when 3D-printed gum will be making its way to our, well, mouths, but if it follows in the footsteps of other 3D-printed candies and confections, it’s easy to imagine there being a demand for customizable chewing gum in some form. Wacker will also use the ProSweets Cologne 2017 Fair to unveil another innovation: its so-called CANDY2GUM technology, which allows it to create a sweet which first tastes and feels like gummy candy and then transforms into chewing gum as it is chewed. Of course, the “industry first” that we’re really waiting for is the first person to stick a piece of 3D-printed chewing gum to the underside of a piece of 3D-printed furniture. Now that will be a manufacturing landmark to take note of.