Have you heard the latest? 3D printing is not just for plastic anymore.
Did you know you could print a meal using the latest technology? Yes I said print! And it is edible!
I have seen it for myself at the 2015 International CES, where chocolate treats from the printer were the talk of twitter!
I spoke with a woman who was there to see the technology come to life in the lab and gets chocolates fresh off the print. The shapes are individual and the chocolate can be divine, she says!
Technology Comes to Dinner!
There are a variety of different types of foods under development at the present time. Here are some of the foods that have come off the printer ready to eat:
- Lettuce was being printed at CES and the actual photo of the product from CES is featured above.
- Oreos in your choice of flavors including birthday cake. The cookies come off the printer in two minutes to satisfy your craving.
- Nutella paste to make decorations for cakes or other items. Since it is your design, it can be shaped into whatever you desire such as your business logo or monogram.
- Besides chocolate – as if other food is needed – you can print using vanilla, mint, cherry, watermelon, jam, beef, pork, walnuts, seasonings, breadcrumbs, chickpeas, and anything your can prepare, blend and add to a printer capsule!
- Pasta is coming too which lets the user create their own pasta shapes. The printer would work using pasta cartridges instead of ink!
- Coming soon will be pizza. A prototype has been dished up but was not very appealing so is back on the drawing board. Guess who created it? NASA!
- Sugar can be transformed into intricate shapes too.
- Healthy ingredients are also on the printer and coming soon.
- Edible “inks” are also on the horizon allowing the user to custom design messages implanted in the food coming off the printer. This could surely bring out the artist in us all.
How Does it Work?
As with traditional printers, “ink” – in this case food capsules containing food pastes – is loaded into the printer. An image is sent to the printer and duplicated in 3D form. Some foods are ready to eat, like chocolates, but others require cooking after they come to life, such as ravioli.
With the press of a button, dinner is served!
One of the devices allowed you to cook whatever you desired, blend it to a specific consistency and add it to the printing capsule. Once loaded, you can create nuggets, sticks, shapes, or loaves.
Creating your own recipes into custom shapes is one of the “hooks” of 3D food printing. For example, if your child loves planes, you could make burgers, chicken nuggets or cookies in the shape of a plane. You can make your own burgers with black beans and control the ingredients and additives.
Decorating baked goods with chocolate shapes or garnishing your meals with vegetable puree in the place of chocolate are just the tip of the iceberg in what you can create.
Innovative Products Keep Coming
Digital cookbooks are springing up, too, to help you with your design creations.
The food pastes that go into the printer could be custom made with a particular person in mind, such as adding your daily dose of vitamins and minerals.
The new technology able to print real food is not cheap — actually it very pricy, running anywhere from $5,000 on up for the machine itself. As with most technology, though, prices are likely to come down quickly. There is one company reportedly getting ready to bring to market one 3D printer that will create different foods for as little as $1,300.
The printers I saw were various sizes and some were quite large, seeming suited to both home and commercial kitchens.
There is a revolution in the printing industry with the numerous applications for things coming off the printer, such as toys and even fashion, with even more innovations with food getting into the mix. There was one couple from Norway who made a robotic pancake pourer to create shapes that rival any cookie cutter.
We will see more food companies getting into the action and many have already started including Hershey’s and Barilla. The Culinary Institute of America is also involved and many applications of 3D food printing are being designed specifically for restaurant use.
The future of 3D food printing and all its applications will only be limited by our imaginations.
Where will yours take you?