The future depicted in movies and television often shows unrealistic ways to prepare and consume food. Even in our wildest imaginations, we couldn’t have predicted that we could have a five-star meal thanks to the additive process and 3D printing technology. The fact that 3D printers can prepare food is revolutionary, but can you make edible food with a 3D printer?
How It Works
Often, 3D printing food is akin to manufacturing filament from a standard fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printer in that a gelatinous substance goes onto a surface to form a product.
There have been trials using various additive methods, including binder jetting and selective laser sintering (SLS) with powdered foodstuffs; however, it is still unclear whether these procedures are feasible for food printing. Considering there are more complicated applications for 3D printers, it shouldn’t be long before any kinks work themselves out.
Meanwhile, sales of FDM-like food printing equipment for professionals and consumers alike are rising. Generally speaking, you will load the raw material into a syringe-like container while the nozzle moves to trace forms and build up individual 2D layers.
The Foods 3D Printers Can Make
The idea that professionals and consumers alike will consume 3D-printed food is still very new. Still, we can’t help but admire the ingenuity of these machines and the creativity of the delicious artwork they produce.
The current 3D printing technologies have a limited number of culinary applications. Like most FDM printers, the most prevalent method for 3D printing food is material extrusion, which calls for paste-like inputs like purées, mousses, and gelatins to produce dessert features like chocolate ganache.
There may seem to be a lack of variety at first but consider all the many ways you may combine ingredients like dough, mashed potatoes, cheese, icing, and even raw meat that tastes and feels much like the real thing.
It Can’t Cook Food—Yet
The main purpose of a food 3D printer is to create complex forms and patterns, not to prepare the food. Once the 3D printing procedure is complete, the edibles are typically either ready to eat or need some time in the oven.
The one notable outlier is everyone’s favorite breakfast food—pancakes. There is a specific piece of 3D printing technology that acts as a pancake maker and showcases your artisan skills. It still requires someone to flip the pancake, but the rest of the process occurs automatically.
Where You Can Find 3D Printed Delicacies
These days, 3D food printers are typically at high-end restaurants and bakeries that specialize in molecular cuisine. This technology is not yet ready for widespread use since it needs additional time and effort to evolve. Nevertheless, this does not prevent trailblazers and innovators from using it. Sadly, these culinary pioneers tend to hunker down in exclusive, Michelin-starred eateries.
Luckily, not all 3D printing food ventures come with a hefty bill at the end of the night. 3D-printed pizzas have been in the works for some time and will become a reality soon, while bakers have recently made headlines for printing edible wedding cake decorations.
Knowing that it is possible to make edible food with a 3D printer opens the world to new possibilities and potential gastronomic breakthroughs. Personalizing food and easily reproducing food can be a game-changer that will satisfy everyone’s palate.