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Smart Gels

- Printing edible hydrogels that preprogrammed to change shape in water

The food sector has been showing some interest in interactive and shape-changing foods, potentially it can improve transportation efficiency, contribute to new products developments, enhance eating and cooking experiences. However, normal foods (cookie doughs, purees, meat pastes etc) are quite difficult to 4D print, because they are unstable and complex since the majority of pastes consist of more than one ingredient.

Therefore, hydrogels as a material to design shape-changing foods were explored during this project.
Considering that gelatine is highly water absorbent, the swelling ratio was taken as the main trigger for shape transformations. We created several patterns with gelatine and non-soluble fibre, ethylcellulose, were created, which would undergo shape change when submerged into water. 

The aim of this project was to investigate how gelatine concentration, cross-linkage and bloom strength would affect the shape change and the time taken for it to occur. Those experiments would help researchers to understand what factors affect the shape transformations, how they can be improved and further manipulated.

The project was conducted as a part of the project-exchange program at the Chemical Engineering Department at South Denmark University

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