Food is now Printed in 3D
One of the more interesting and new areas 3D printing is delving into is printed food. The prediction is that food printing kitchen appliances will one day be just as ubiquitous as the microwave oven is today. It is a rather bold claim, especially in light of the fact that food 3D printing is still in the very early stages and so far the general public hasn’t really been impressed. The industry has trying to make food 3D printers a thing for a few years now, and so far none of the handful of models that have been released have been able to set any sales records.
Does it taste the same?
One of the current drawbacks to food 3D printing is the actual food materials themselves; so far the technology is extrusion-based and limited to foods that can be made into a paste. That is an ideal technology for foods like chocolate, frosting, dough or hummus, but in terms of more robust foods the texture is an issue that will need to be resolved.
Natural Machines is taking their time rolling out the Foodini (a device that 3D prints food) and is realistic about its chances of being a must-own kitchen appliance. The 3D printer will be an open capsule model, meaning the consumer prepares and places fresh ingredients into Foodini and the machine will do the rest. They say that Foodini is capable of printing all types of real, fresh, nutritious foods, from savory to sweet. So far the primary users for the food 3D printer seem to be in restaurant or high-end kitchen environments, where its ability to perform repetitive tasks while the staff does other things has proven useful. However, in terms of home use it is still going to be a tough market to break.
Paco Perez, a Michelin star chef, is experimenting for his restaurants. He places a plate inside a strange-looking machine that looks a bit like a large microwave oven. He touches the controls, and a few minutes later, removes the plate, which is now decorated with a delicate, flower-like design.
However, the professional market is likely to be less interested in printers that can cook as well as print food, since they have many other means of cooking at their disposal. The main appeal of the machines will be their ability to customise and create dishes never before possible. Nevertheless, 3D printed food has a lot to offer.