Evidently, there is an appetite for 3D printing in the food sector. This past month alone, we’ve seen several stories about advancements in the food 3D printing space. For instance, Redefine Meat presented its first 3D printed plant-based steak; KFC and Russia-based 3D Bioprinting Solutions revealed their collaboration to develop 3D printed chicken nuggets; and a new Israeli startup, SavorEat, which is developing a 3D printed meat alternative, came onto the market. Now, we’ve learnt that a project coming out of European universities has created a 3D bioprinted, plant-based fish alternative.
An international team of students from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid and The Technical University of Denmark is leveraging 3D bioprinting technologies to create plant-based fish alternatives. The team is reportedly utilizing FELIXprinters‘ BIOprinter system to print complex binders and protein to produce salmon-like edibles.
The collaborative project was born out of the Training4CRM research project which launched in 2017 and aims to use 3D printing to develop treatments for neurodegenerative disorders. Through their work in this field, the trio of researchers realized they could apply similar techniques to produce plant-based proteins for eating. The team became interested in producing seafood alternatives after identifying a gap in the market for vegan-friendly fish products.
At this stage, the researchers are preparing to launch their bioprinting process commercially through a new brand: Legendary Vish. Their goal, in short, is to offer a healthy and still tasty alternative to other vegan-friendly fish substitutes, one which more closely mimics the texture and taste of real fish. 3D bioprinting has enabled them to recreate these textures through the deposition of complex structures. Essentially, the process consists of using the FELIX BIOprinter to simultaneously extrude plant-based bioinks in such a way that mimics the appearance and texture of salmon fillets, including the distribution of pink meat and white connective tissue.
“The FELIX BIOprinter is appropriate for all types of bio-printing research, and is equipped with strong motors that can extrude a range of different viscosity of materials which was invaluable when being used to simulate the look and feel of salmon,” said Wilgo Feliksdal, Co-Founder of FELIXprinters. “In addition, the BIOprinter has been designed to be easily upgradeable, which means that the lifecycle of the machine can be extended without compromising quality, reliability, and productivity.”
The 3D bioprinted fish alternative could very well present itself as a more sustainable and ethical way to consume fish-like protein. As many will know, the fishing and fish farming industries (and meat production at large) are riddled with environmental issues, including the destruction of aquatic ecosystems and the use of antibiotics in aquaculture. Bioprinting a plant-based alternative is a potential solution (though admittedly, a long way from widespread consumption) to these challenges. We will certainly be keeping a close (fish)eye on Legendary Vish going forward.