MeaTech Company, developer of advanced cultured meat bio-printing technology, announced its new printer, capable of producing meat at an industrial rate of 10 tons a day. The printer is composed of hundreds of “nozzles” – ink heads dripping the biological material onto the printing trays. This material forms the muscles and fat tissues which compose the cut of meat. According to the company, this printer overcomes the challenges involving the production of cultured meat at an industrial rate of production without impacting cell vitality.
In contrast to other 3D printing industries, where the printers are mainly used for creating prototypes or short series production, in the cultured meat industry the capability of producing meat at an industrial rate is highly crucial for technology’s commercialization. This is why, says MeaTech, that the new printer is an important milestone for the cultured meat industry in general, and particularly for MeaTech.
MeaTech Company was founded by CEO Arik Kaufman and Chairman Yaron Kaiser. The headquarters are located in Rehovot, Israel and it currently employs 50 employees. Many of these employees are coming from 3D Printing companies such as Stratasys, Nano-Dimension, XJet, Indigo and more. Many of these companies are also located at the Rehovot Science Park. Indeed, the cultured meat printer’s operation method is not so different from other 3D printers. Just like FDM printing, the MeaTech printer produces the object on the tray layer after layer, according to the predefined shape designed by the software. Instead Polymer ink, for example, the ink heads drip biological material that contains various stem cells, which then differentiated into the completed cells that compose the meat. Currently, the biological printing materials developed by MeaTech are intended to form muscle and fat, but in the future the company is planning on developing cells that are differentiated into bones and blood vessels.
The differentiation and maturation of the piece does not take place within the printer` rather, they are moved to an incubator to differentiate, grow and to form a cut of meat, with a real steak’s texture and qualities.
As opposed to non-organic materials, the challenge in printing cultures meat is to keep the vitality of cell throughout the process. This is why too high or too low temperatures cannot be used to solidify the solution, and the company uses alternative techniques such as temperature differences, wavy motion and more. Few months ago the company had reported that it was managed to print, industry-first, a 100 grams cut of steak, comprised of real, living muscle and fat cells, and does not contain any soy or pea protein typically used in plant-based alternatives.
[Pictured is the 3.67 oz cultivated steak printed by MeaTech 3D. Photo credit: Shlomi Arbiv. Style credit: Amit Farber]