Researcher in the Spotlight: Nicky Jonkers
We approach the concept of eating food from a Mechanical Engineering point of view, believing that this will largely improve the methods of designing food
My name is Nicky Jonkers and, together with AMSYSTEMS Center, I’m working in the field of 3D food printing. This falls under the Department of Mechanical Engineering, in which I’m a part of the Mechanics of Materials research group. 3D printing offers design freedom at multiple length scales and is therefore a very interesting technology to utilize in combination with food. By taking full control of the printed structure, it will be potentially possible to create unique dishes.
Redefining our relationship with food
The texture of food and the ways in which people experience the consumption of food play a key role in this research. By designing the microstructure of our food, we can influence the perception of texture. In order to investigate how these structures should be designed to obtain consumer-specific properties, we compose a material model that contains all of its relevant properties. Using this model, geometries with specific mechanical and textural properties are devised. These designs are printed and tested experimentally to validate and improve the model.
This research plays an important role in understanding how we can control food structure to achieve desired results for the consumer. This could drastically change the way in which people look at food consumption and opens up the world of personalized food.
Bridging the gap
The major results so far are cookie-like samples that are 3D printed and mechanically tested to identify the main material phenomena. This observed mechanical behavior has been implemented into a material model. The next step is to validate and enrich this model with additional observations. A model is only as valuable as the input you give it and we want to get it as close to the real world as possible.
We approach the concept of eating food from a Mechanical Engineering point of view, believing that this will largely improve the methods of designing food. However, the link between objective mechanical properties and subjective textural properties is still unclear, so we need to bridge this.
I am more focused on the properties of food after it has been processed and on how we can design products that obtain these properties. However, it is not easy to use 3D printing to process food. Dolf Klomp’s project is therefore very important as he focuses more on the processing side of things. Without proper knowledge of the 3D printing process in combination with food, it would not be possible to create the desired products. By keeping each other up-to-date on our progress and on the world of 3D food printing in general, we can get this technology to the next level.