Development of a DEM model to simulate multi-material food powder deposition

The first step in the development of multi-material 3D printed foods is the creation of a multi-material powder bed. The wide variety of powders combined with the difficulty of deposition makes an accurate simulation of deposition processes imperative.

Production of 3D printed multi-material foods gives a range of possibilities, from enhancing flavour to creating different textures. To achieve this, a multi-material powder bed must be created by depositing different powders per layer in a voxelated manner before agglomerating it into a single object. Accurately depositing a wide variety of food powders is challenging. The development of a discrete element method model capable of simulating the powder flow during the deposition process will allow for the optimal design of a multi-material powder depositor.  

Discrete Element Method

A 2D DEM (Discrete Element Method) model is developed that is capable of simulating different food powders. Each powder particle can be simulated with its own unique shape and properties. The 2D DEM model allows for efficient simulation of powder flow processes by assuming no significant force component in the third dimension. A calibration method is created for the easy determination of the simulation parameters for new powders.

Powder Depositor Design

A piezo electric actuated miniaturized hopper is used for the deposition of powders. Powder will only flow when the wall friction in the hopper is reduced through the actuation of the piezo allowing for voxelated deposition. The hopper design parameters and process parameters for different powders will be determined by the DEM model.

Model Driven Design

The combination of different powders with a specifically designed DEM model will allow for fast and efficient screening of powders and the determination of optimal designed hoppers for the creation of a multi-material powder bed.