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Linking rheology and printability of a multicomponent gel system of carrageenan-xanthan-starch in extrusion based additive manufacturing

Liu, Zhenbin, Bhandari, Bhesh, Prakash, Sangeeta, Mantihal, Sylvester, Zhang, Min
Food hydrocolloids 2019 v.87 pp. 413-424
ambient temperature, extrusion, foods, gelatinization temperature, gelation, gels, hydrocolloids, manufacturing, models, modulus of elasticity, rheology, starch, strength (mechanics), viscosity, xanthan gum
3D food printing is an emerging technology with a potential to influence the food manufacturing sector. Rheological properties of food inks are critical for their successful 3D printing. However, the relationships between rheological properties and 3D printability have not been clearly defined in food systems. In this work, a gel model system composed of carrageenan-xanthan-starch was prepared for an extrusion-based 3D food printer. The 3D printing process was divided into three stages and the corresponding rheological properties of inks for each stage were determined, namely extrusion stage (yield stress, viscosity and shear-thinning behaviour), recovery stage (shear recovery and temperature recovery properties) and self-supporting stage (complex modulus G* and yield stress at room temperature). Finally, 3D printability of the model inks was systematically studied starting with printing lines/pentagram (one dimensional, 1D structure) to printing lattice scaffold (two dimensional, 2D structure) and finally printing cylinders (three dimensional, 3D structure). Results demonstrated that addition of starch and xanthan gum in k-carrageenan based inks increased inks' gelation temperature (Tgelation), viscosity (within shear rate of 0.01–100 1/s), yield stress, G*, enhanced shear-thinning (thixotropic) behaviour and reduced time-dependence of modulus (temperature recovery). Rheological responses of yield stress (cross-over point where G′ (elastic modulus) equals to G′′ (viscous modulus) in the stress sweep tests) and shear-thinning behaviour (viscosity decreased when shear rate increased) were closely related to ink's extrudability. Inks' gelation temperature (Tgelation) and time-dependent behaviour (gelation time, tgel) significantly affected their printability and shape retention performance. The mechanical strength of the ink is important to be self-supporting, especially for 3D structures. Insights achieved from this study could provide guidance on improving 3D printability of foods that use hydrocolloids as a printing aid.