MIT Researchers Engineer Shape-shifting Noodles Through 3D Printing

Not a month goes by where MIT doesn’t share a groundbreaking discovery. It is evident the institution has a tendency to experiment with 3D printing technology as of late. New research from the institution Tangible Media Group indicates there is a way to combine 3D printing with pasta. An interesting concept, although things will only get weirder when realizing the group developed shape-shifting noodles.

Shape-shifting Noodle and 3D Printing Is an Interesting Combination

When first hearing about this research, a lot of people will wonder whether or not they are living in a fantasy world. Rest assured that is not the case, as the research regarding shape-shifting noodles is very real. Wen Wang and Lining Yao came up with a way to engineer noodles which react and fold when they are exposed to water. A major breakthrough, but what does it even mean?

The objective of this research is to find a viable way to reduce costs associated with shipping food. Moreover, it may herald an era of revolutionary fine dining, although that is only a secondary objective. All of this research is powered by macaroni, 3D printing, and molecular gastronomy. It sounds like an episode of “Kitchen Nightmares” waiting to go wrong, but the results might surprise you.

Edible materials can be used for purposes other than just consuming them. The researchers tried experimenting with pasta and tested to see whether or not it could respond to humidity. The spaghetti we buy at the grocery store is rather “dumb” in this regard, making it a far less suitable candidate. However, the researchers have engineered their own type of pasta, made out of thin layers of gelatin with different densities.

The upper layer is designed to absorb water, which allows it to bend over the bottom layer to create a tube-shaped pasta. It sounds pretty simple, but it is a magic show unfolding before your very own eyes. The strips of cellulose starch on the top layer are 3D-printed, which means the researchers could control the shape of the noodles. In theory, they can create any product, ranging from rigatoni to mushroom-shaped pasta. The opportunities are virtually limitless in the world of pasta right now.

According to the researchers, this innovation can lead to a whole new era of pasta making. Every noodle maker can reduce the shapes they like, while still reduce the volume and package waste at the same time. In fact, this spaghetti can be shaped as flat as possible and shipped in a box that is 2 millimeters thicker. In the end, the pasta will still fold to its appropriate size and shape, regardless of how it is packaged. A major breakthrough when it comes to reducing shipping costs and waste.

It is evident 3D printing is a driving factor for the future of the food industry. While not everyone is looking forward to shape-shifting noodles by any means, it is quite an appealing concept that will lead to interesting creations. The bigger problem is whether or not these noodles will ever taste the same as your regular pasta. That is a pressing issue right now, although it is certainly possible to solve this problem.

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