3D-printed fruit will help your real apples taste better


There may be a pretender in your next box of fruit, a fake fruit that tracks temperatures, motion and shocks to ensure your plums are sweet and hard and your peaches are pretty as can be.

Created by Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, the project involves a 3D-printed apple that hides in with all the real apples and contains a number of sensors. It’s colored like an apple so handlers won’t treat that box with special care and it simulates the actual weight, size and density of a real apple, ensuring that it accurately represents an apple in the wild.

The first model has an internal thermometer for measuring temperature changes, but you can feasibly stuff more sensors into its fruit-like guts. This robo-apple then hitches a ride with other apples in the wild and allows shippers to assess what happens to their fruit in transit.

The project appears in the Journal of Food Engineering and promises “A new fruit simulator engineered to closely match the thermal response of real fruit” and a system for “artificial fruit that can monitor fruit pulp thermal history throughout the entire cold chain.” Exciting stuff in the fruital arts.

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