A 3D printer which can deliver any type of food a person wants at the press of a button sounds like a dream come true for people who don’t have time or feel like cooking. A 3D food printer is in the works that could make those futuristic dreams come true relatively soon.
According to CNN, a company called Natural Machines introduced the “Foodini,” a 3D food printer. While other 3D printers work with plastic materials to produce something inedible, the Foodini uses real food ingredients which come from stainless steel capsules to print edible food.
A co-founder of Natural Machines, Lynette Kucsma, explained how the 3D food printer works and how it needs to improve.
“It’s the same technology, but with plastics there’s just one melting point, whereas with food it’s different temperatures, consistencies and textures. Also, gravity works a little bit against us, as food doesn’t hold the shape as well as plastic.”
It might sound like the ultimate tool to avoid ordering takeout, but Natural Machines admits there is more to the Foodini than pressing a button — at least for the time being.
The 3D printer needs people to prepare fresh ingredients before they can print out any edible food. Right now, the printer is designed to handle the most difficult or time-consuming parts of meal preparation to encourage people to eat healthier meals.
However, there is hope for people who want to eat healthier but don’t want to cook for themselves. Natural Machines is working with other food manufacturers to come up with prepared food capsules which need no real prep work. The capsules would have no preservatives and have a shelf life of about five days, CNN reported.
The current Foodini model printer prepares the food to cook, but people must cook the food the printer prepares before it can be eaten. A future model of the 3D printer will actually prepare the food and cook it.
For now, the Foodini is useful as a complex design tool because it can create food in a variety of shapes and make detailed bakery decorations.
Using a smartphone or the 3D printer’s touchscreen, users can use the Foodini as a social tool to connect with other people through sharing recipes, according to Kucsma.
“There’s a touchscreen on the front that connects to a recipe site in the cloud, so it’s an internet-of-things, connected kitchen appliance.”
At first, the 3D printer will be marketed to professional kitchen users. However, according to ITProPortal, a smaller unit “about the size of an oven” may be available soon for other consumers at a retail price around $1,000.
If the 3D food printer can raise enough funding, the Foodini should be available around mid 2015.
[Image via Natural Machines/ITProPortal]