I’m Just Going to Print Myself a Snack
Have you ever opened a cookbook that requested supplies such as (1) 3D Printer, (1) food designing software enabled computer, and (2-3) pre-packaged plastic capsules of preferred ingredients? You may continue to read the instructions and see that after choosing what you’d like for dinner (i.e. homemade raviolis) on your computer, preparing the specialty meal is just a click away. After some time has passed and your raviolis are sculpted to perfection, all you need to do now is bake. Voila! Dinner is served.
Unfortunately, this is not an exact reality for consumers (for now!), but more so reality for food processing companies like Barilla, chefs in specialty restaurants across the globe, molecular gastronomists, chocolate masters such as The Hershey Company, mixologists, and even out-of-this-world members of NASA.
While 3D printing and food on demand is nothing new, combining the two services is what shocked the attendees at last year’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). 3D Systems, a company that engineers and manufactures 3D printers, was one of the first companies credited with the invention of 3D printing. 3D Systems focused mainly on industries such as: aerospace, automotive, architecture, health care, dental, entertainment, recreation, and consumer goods – until now.
According to Business Insider, 3D Systems purchased Sugar Lab from co-inventors Liz and Kyle von Hassein who currently work as Creative Directors of Food Products for the company. The couple invented what is now called ChefJet and ChefJet Pro which turns sugar into elegant geometric confections. The ChefJet prints in black and white while the ChefJet Pro can print in color; prices range from $5,000 to $10,000 and is expected to go on sale during the second half of 2015.
Most recently, Natural Machines introduced their version of a food-centered 3D printer cleverly known as “Foodini.” In an article from CNN, this 3D printing machine “deploys edible ingredients squeezed out of stainless steel capsules” that can create a “wide range of dishes, from sweet to savory.” Foodini is mostly targeted for professional kitchen users, but a consumer version may follow in the near future at the retail price of approximately $1,000.
While costs seem high and slightly impractical, the health benefits and untapped creative potential is incredible. The idea behind a food-centered 3D printer is not to eliminate the cooking process, but more so to eliminate the time consuming aspects of it. Also, since the ingredients inside each pre-packaged capsule have a shelf life of only five days, you are ultimately increasing your intake of fresh, preservative free ingredients.
There’s no telling what’s in store for the future of foodservice technology, but we can say for sure that it will be quite interesting. Cornell’s Creative Machines Lab has whipped up a hamburger with ketchup and mustard layers and a cake with secret messages embedded inside. As long as the ingredients are of a “doughy” consistency, your creations can range from simple sugar or chocolate designs to cookies, pizza, and more.
Right now, I think I’ll just go print myself a snack.