3D printing of food to enhance nutrition of in-patients at a children’s hospital – a study to explore possibilites



Funding type IBAM NTN Innovation Booster
Project supervisor Gioele Balestra
Duration 2022
Research area Advanced Manufacturing

Malnutrition is a major issue in hospitalized patients and has negative consequences on the clinical outcome. During hospital stay the medical circumstances and a lack of attractiveness of food can add to a reduced intake. Particularly in child in-patients a poor eating behavior is of concern.

The project demonstrated the potential of 3D printing technology to produce food (in the form of a snack) for a clinical environment of a children’s hospital. In a first qualitative part the needs, views and the potential as seen by healthcare professionals, hospital staff and parents were analysed. Based on this input the project team has developed different food options all of which use clinical oral nutritional supplements as an ingredient. The recipes result in a “dough” with rheological properties that make it acceptable for printing. Two unique printing technologies i.e. extrusion based and inkjet based were explored to 3D print the ONS food and decorate it. Different printing strategies were explored to speed up the print time, improved print resolution and general aesthetics. A rocketshaped decorated ONS based pancake was 3D printed and decorated as a final proof of concept demonstrator. The concept allows for personalization in that the design/shape of the snack can be customized (e.g. by the child patient). This increases the attractiveness of the food and can thus contribute to an increase in intake.

Partner : Prof. Dr. Kai-Uwe Schmitt, Akademie-Praxis-Partnerschaft (APP) Insel Gruppe Prof. Dr. Klazine van der Horst, Forschung Ernährung & Diätetik, Berner Fachhochschule, Dept. Gesundheit

Link to press article

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