MIT’s 3D-printed pasta changes shape while cooking

Developed by researchers at MIT, the pasta is made up of two layers of gelatin and starch that increase in volume when in contact with water

This latest invention will surely make some Modena grandmother, an expert in homemade pasta, turn up her nose. A group of researchers from the Tangible Media Group at MIT has created a particular type of pasta that can take on different shapes when immersed in water.

The idea was born from a goal: to exploit all the volume available in a package of pasta. According to scientists, in fact, in a box of macaroni, 67% of the air is not used. So it was decided to develop a pasta composed of two layers of gelatin and starch that in contact with water increase in volume, acquiring the classic curled appearance of the pasta. The two very thin gelatin sheets are not identical because in the upper one the density of gelatin is higher. As soon as the layers are immersed in water, both absorb the liquid and in this way they enlarge. The top layer, having a higher density, expands more, thus giving the paste a rolled appearance.

3D printing shapes the paste

And that's not all. To prevent the gelatinous material from expanding out of control, scientists at MIT's Tangible Media Group turned to 3D printing, which allowed them to add food-grade cellulose to the two layers. The paper also allows pasta to take on only certain shapes when immersed in water, including rigatoni, macaroni and many others. Pasta 2.0, which according to the opinion of those who had the chance to taste it is also good, represents an invention which in the future could be used to increase the quantity of pasta in a package. And in this way reduce space and transportation costs.

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