Development of a novel antimicrobial packaging film by 3D printing

UWE funded project
David Huson, Senior Research Fellow, CFPR
Alexandros Stratakos, Wallscourt Fellow in Sustainable Agri-Food Production, UWE Bristol
Sonny Lightfoot, Research Associate & Technician, CFPR
Damien Leech, University of Nottingham
Dates: 1/9/20-31/7/21

Foodborne diseases are global challenge, as they result in significant morbidity, mortality, and economic costs. Recently, globalisation of the food supply has also meant that pathogens causing foodborne diseases are rapidly transported across international borders. With pressures from international governments and industry to develop new ways to help ensure the safety of the food supply chain and protect public health, the aim of this  project is to develop a novel antimicrobial packaging film by investigating 3D printing methods.  

This project will investigate how Direct Ink Writing (DIW), the three-dimensional patterning and deposition of material, when loaded with antimicrobial components can fabricate packaging films that will allow the elimination of pathogenic bacteria from the surface of food.

The team are building the DIW setup by modifying a standard 3D printer with a pressure driven syringe, to allow for more general material printability. DIW, provides a high degree of control over both the structure and the biomaterial-ink (i.e. polymers/antimicrobials). Therefore, they can explore multiple structures for integration into a variety of food packaging options and how ink formulation can affect antimicrobial properties, printability and biodegradability. Tests will be run using biodegradable materials with inherent antimicrobial properties (e.g. chitosan) that can then be further seeded with other antimicrobials (characterised in DAS). 

The results of the project can equip the UK and overseas food industry with a bespoke alternative to conventional packaging options and thus increase food safety and protect public health. 

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