How did you get into 3D printing?
I started off with 3D printing at university, during my undergraduate - studying architecture. At roughly the same time, I bought one of the very first 3d printer ‘kits’ from Printrbot and began working with that. The joy of seeing designs I made on the computer come to life stuck with me, and I decided to focus on 3D printing within product design specifically. I began modifying the 3D printer kit I had and learning more about engineering, mechanics and electronics; building more 3D printers from scratch and learning much more about what it could do. My primary focus being how can 3D printing be used to achieve designs/products/ideas that aren’t possible with traditional manufacturing methods.
How did you come up with the prototype for Nourished?
The need or the specific use case is always important. The machine was designed to fulfil the need we had – to allow for true customisation but build and create the stacks in an efficient way that wouldn’t take a great deal of time. I considered many possibilities, but the prototype was deemed the most efficient when considering that 28 identical stacks was needed each time.
Why do you use 3D printing technology in Nourished?
3D printing supplements is beneficial for a number of different reasons. Firstly, vitamins and other active ingredients have certain parameters which mean they can degrade with exposure to various conditions (heat, light, moisture, humidity) especially over a protracted period. At Nourished we 3D print each order on demand to ensure the efficacy of the active ingredients and deliver them directly to the customer to achieve a higher impact when consumed.
Whilst the standard concept of mass manufacturing vitamins is well established it is not practical when trying to introduce customised products. The industry standard for ‘personalisation’ is picking a bunch of separate tablets and packing them together, which isn’t really convenient, sustainable or even really bespoke. Premixing products and producing an extended set of SKUs also does not allow for true personalisation – and you are then not really tailoring it to the individual.
Having previously worked with and produced 3D printed food and confectionary using a similar technology, we found we could get excellent stability with vitamins present. Thus, we were able to approach the use of 3d printing machinery to layer different ‘mixes’ of different actives on top of each other to form a single product in rapid time, which are entirely suited to the consumer's individual requirements.
Does 3D printing the Nourished stacks make the product more expensive?
In comparison to a mass manufactured, bog standard multivitamins – yes. At Nourished we want to create the most bespoke, premium and sustainable nutrition available; not necessarily the cheapest. We have conducted price comparison exercises and to purchase 7 of the same quality active ingredients separately from different retailers would actually be roughly £100 more expensive than the £39.99 a month for a totally personalised and convenient Nourished box.
We offer high-quality ingredients and extensively researched vitamins, minerals and super-foods and feel that price comparisons cannot be made to generic multi-vitamins which are much less effective. We manufacture the products in house and this is something we are very proud of; that we are not just offering something white label that’s just branded with our name.
How does it get from a computer to an edible gummy?
We produce a 3D file and movement instruction file within the 3D printer, which tells it what to do, how to move and when to deposit the gummy material. This is constantly optimised and worked on by the nourished team. It is very similar to the way most 3D printers for plastic will operate in this sense, but is completely optimised for food.
What impact does 3D printing my supplements have for me?
3D printing itself is all about the manufacturing method and the personalisation it allows. It does not change the impact of the vitamin itself, that comes with the vegan encapsulation formulation technology we have developed, the testing we do and the choice of ingredients we offer.
How sustainable is 3D printing vitamins?
We are passionate about sustainability and have gone to great lengths to reduce our waste throughout our business. Our manufacturing process is very sustainable, and we have virtually no plastic waste – we re-sterilise, re-use and clean all utensils within our machinery and facilities. Our 3D printing technology means we are not holding anywhere near as much stock as traditional mass manufacturing methods, and so don't have to dispose of unsold or expired stock.
If you have a particular question about our 3D printing techniques which we haven't answered here, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help!