3D-Food Printing an der Hochschule Rhein-Waal
We shape food... and make regional produce printable
3D printing is an ultramodern technology with endless potential, a game-changer for regional competitiveness. While 3D printing technology is normally associated with synthetic materials, a new trend in additive manufacturing – 3D food printing – is proving that edible materials are more than suitable in their own right. This interesting area of research is now open to exploration at Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences with the acquisition of new 3D printers for ceramics and chocolate. The 3D printers, which were acquired thanks to generous financial support to the tune of 24,000 euros from the foundation ‘Standort- und Zukunftssicherung Kreis Wesel’, were recently presented to the University in a formal ceremony.
Kleve/Kamp-Lintfort, 29 September 2016: 3D printing is, in a word, fascinating. The idea of a new digital revolution, the ability to transform digital information into a tangible, ready-to-use product, inspires the imagination. While some 3D printing goals are still confined to science fiction, many real things have been achieved – or are close to breakthroughs – at this very moment. Doctors, for example, are continuing to investigate ways to produce human tissue in 3D printers, while the first car produced entirely of 3D printed parts has already been assembled and runs.
The roots of 3D printing can be traced back to the 80s and have been growing ever since. Every product, whether a coffee mug or a dental implant, requires a digital model before it can be printed. This model is fed to the printer, which then takes a block of plastic, ceramic, metal etc. and slowly but surely constructs the product. 3D printing technology has seen an upsurge in recent years in new applications, processes, materials and speed. These trends are not likely to cease or slow any time soon.
As a key future technology, 3D printing is undisputed, particularly in terms of its potential impact on the creative potential of regional enterprises. “Knowledge and experience with 3D printing technologies allow students and professionals of all ages to adapt to the rapid changes and trends of the working world in innovative and socially equitable ways,” stressed Dr Ansgar Müller, District Administrator of Wesel and chair of the foundation board for Standort- und Zukunftssicherung Kreis Wesel. “Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences with its FabLab facility in Kamp-Lintfort is truly a forerunner of the region in this regard. Our goal is to support the continued development of the University’s potential for technical innovation through information events and the acquisition of new equipment.”
FabLab, short for Fabrication Laboratory, is a concept that began at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and has since spread throughout the world. A FabLab is an open, ultramodern workshop with computer-controlled machinery capable of producing a wide range of products.
The University’s FabLab is a powerful educational tool for many different age groups. Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences and its zdi Centre Kamp-Lintfort regularly organise workshops with area schools, for example, in which pupils can build their own 3D printer for use in their school at no extra charge. “Chocolate and ceramic printing is a simple way to introduce a large group to a still unfamiliar technology,” notes Dr Martin Kreymann, official zdi Coordinator at Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences. “The goal of our initiative is to contribute to the training and education of future specialists in the region. The zdi Centre of Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences has found an important partner in the foundation Standort- und Zukunftssicherung Kreis Wesel, which supports us financially and promotes a continuous dialogue and exchange between the economic and political spheres of the region. This is extremely important to us.”
This is the core principle of the foundation in the words of Michael Düchting, managing director of the foundation and head of the development agency EntwicklungsAgentur Wirtschaft Kreis Wesel: “There are many different ideas out there for ensuring the continued and future success of the region. Our goal is to promote these ideas in cooperation with local businesses. By encouraging cooperative agreements between the private and the public sector, the foundation’s efforts can be closely tied into the region.”
The foundation has already provided 30,500 euros in financial support to the zdi Centre in Kamp-Lintfort between 2010 and 2013, contributions which have gone directly to constructing new cooperative possibilities between Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences and schools throughout the region.