Between all of the various developments in the additive manufacturing space ranging from the more traditional use of desktop 3D printers to create consumer products or DIY projects to even developments centered around 3D bioprinting, one industry that hasn’t been seeing a whole lot growth in the 3D printing sector is the food industry.
While we’ve seen some food-based 3D printers that are capable of extruding various food items that come in a gel or paste-like consistency, the resulting prints haven’t been enough to persuade consumers - let alone chefs - to run out and buy one.



But for all of the potential uses of food in 3D printers at the consumer level, there are many developments being made under the radar by large food corporations who are researching the future of food. Whether the purpose is to create food that can be printed on-demand for military or space exploration or simply just fun new ways of thinking about existing food, 3D printing has been playing a significant part in the development of various new food items. Among others, PepsiCo - makers of Pepsi cola -have recently been able to use 3D printing to create one of the most sought-after snack foods of all time, the potato chip.



At a time when childhood obesity and heart problems are at an all-time high, PepsiCo isn’t necessarily in a strong position with their flagship products - which include sugary soft drinks, fried snacks and fat-laden dips, among others. These international health urgencies have also had an effect on the company’s sales; sales of carbonated soft drinks have dropped 14% over the past decade and Pepsi’s market share alone has taken a hit. In the last four years alone, the company has struggled to keep their revenue and profits at a frozen state; neither losing money nor making money in the unpredictable market.



Of course, the one obvious thing to do in this situation is to create healthier products that are still appealing to a mass market. To develop these products, a lot of time and energy has to go into the research and development of new food technologies both for reverse-engineering competitors products as well as developing entirely new technologies. For PepsiCo’s CEO Indra Nooyi, increasing the budget for research and development was a no-brainer; as a matter of fact she doubled the budget.
Thanks to the increased research and development budget, the company saw a 4% organic revenue growth thanks to new products and an increased interest in the near-future of food development.




While the company’s research and development laboratory has been churning out everything from a Gatorade pod to help athletes get the nutrients they need quickly to a Naked Juice Kale Blazer for juicing fans and a lower-calorie Mountain Dew for health-conscious drinkers looking to “Do the Dew”, it is perhaps their 3D printed potato chip that is likely among the most futuristic of the concepts.
The new chips, which the company is calling Deep Ridged, were first developed using a 3D model and a 3D printer to create a thick and super-crunchy potato chip experience.
According to Dr. Mehmood Khan, Pepsi’s chief scientific officer, the company has patents on not only the design of the Deep Ridge potato chip, but also the cutter and the ‘mouth experience’. "This is multiple layers of IP," he said.




Of course, all of this is great news to Nooyi - who placed her bets on both healthier snack foods as well as food innovation when her tenure over the company began eight years ago.
While it’s highly unlikely that the company will use 3D printing to mass manufacture the chips for consumers, it’s nonetheless cool to know that perhaps someday soon, we’ll be eating healthier snack foods that were developed thanks to additive manufacturing technologies.


Via 3ders