3D Food Printing – Way of the Future?
I’ll be honest. The first time I started thinking about what a 3D printer could actually print and all of the ramifications thereof, I envisioned a new kidney for my Type 1 diabetic friend, how manufacturing could be revolutionized and completely awesome cat toys. I never once thought about the possibility of answering one of our planet’s primary destructors – our food source. I have now been educated and I’m truly excited.
From coffee for astronauts, making easily digestible foods look palatable for the elderly, and the newest in cake decorating & candy making, food printing is here. Even the US Army is experimenting with printed food products.
Now I have many questions. What does it take to create a piece of printed food? Can anyone create printed food? How soon before we actually have the food and drink replicators like we see on Star Trek?
To answer those questions, you must first understand what is actually being considered a print. A 3D printer does not use standard ink. In the case of foods, it can be most things edible that can be reduced to a near liquid state. The rendering of the design and the material, then become the print.
Not just anyone can print food. We are not yet at a point where you can buy a 3d printer and whip up some chicken soup. However, enterprising manufacturers can certainly purchase their own 3d printer and begin fabricating their ideas for a small investment (sales beginning at $1,300.00 USD). You’ll want to know about companies like Bocusini.com, which is a good resource for products and ideas.
Other companies are experimenting with helping make base nutrient foods for the elderly more palatable – both in taste and presentation. Already cake decorators and candy makers have begun to create using 3D printers.
We may not be at the point where we can instantly replicate a cup of earl grey tea like Captain Piccard, but with the help of a student at Portland State University, an astronaut on the International Space Station was able to enjoy a fresh brewed cup of coffee (K-Cup style) – rather than freeze dried. The key was the 3D printed espresso cup that created a surface tension that allowed the fresh brewed coffee to come to the lip of the cup and still remain in the cup in a zero gravity atmosphere.
Let’s think about the possibilities of 3D printed foods for busy restaurants in the future. There are already forward thinking students bringing a healthy spin to 3D food printing. Imagine a healthy biscuit and plant seed material printed in a ball form with holes… and allowed to “grow” after printing for a few days.
The possibilities will be endless. What foods would you want to see printed? Do you think you could survive on a printed diet?
3D Printed Food
Posted on May 9, 2016