Tuesday, December 9, 2014


You can print your cake, and eat it too!
Photo courtesy of the Sugar Lab gallery
The latest technology trend has  got foodistas buzzing:  3D printing.

3D Printing technology  is a process of creating a three-dimensional object based on a digital model using an industrial robot printer and filaments as 'ink.' 

In regular 3D printing, the most popular material used is Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene or ABS plastic. Biodegradable filaments made from corn can also be used. Though it may sound slightly edible, it's nothing that you want to have for dinner. Biome Plastics, a manufacturer of 3D filaments,  recently launched a new line of recyclable and food-safe polylactic acid or PLA filaments made from corn starch, sugar cane, tapioca roots and potato starch. Still, you can't eat it.

So, is this technological food revolution for real?

Online site 3d.com features the story of Joshua Lankford, a market researcher who designed the 3D Cake Creator,  a printer that extrudes  standard cake batter through an open oven and prints the cake, layer by layer. However, his pipe dreams are still all in the drawing board.

Image from 3Dprint.com
I found some  some Youtube videos by CNCDudez showing a rather-crude (and messy) looking process to print 3D icing on cakes. Not quite what I had in mind about 3D printed food.

Reminds me of Wordstar and dot matrix printing

Megan Garber of The Atlantic wrote about Cakerbots earlier this year.

She tried out the chocolate from the Sugar Lab and reports that "the stuff tasted pretty much like traditionally manufactured chocolate does—except a little less sweet, a little bit drier, a little more crumbly. You know how chocolate, after it melts and rehardens, has a slightly different flavor and texture than it did before? The 3D-printed chocolate is like that."
Curious, I went on to look for the Sugar Lab website.  Meet Kyle and Liz von Hasseln, the husband and wife tandem behind this innovative company that prints sculptures, table centerpieces and cake toppings with sugar.
Click on the pic to get linked to the video
The edible 3D printed sugar sculptures made by selectively applying a mixture of alcohol and water to wet, then harden the sugar. They also use this technology to create a new kind of eye candy, 3D Printed sugar cubes which they sell online for US$36 for a baker's dozen.

That's a lot of money for candy you won't eat because it's too pretty!
But what about those of us who don't have a sweet tooth, can we print-up some pizza on demand?
Enter the Foodini. 

This was sent from the future by the Jettsons
Natural Machines, the manufacturer of Foodini, has been taking on orders for this $3,000 3D printer which promises to help you prepare "real fresh, nutritious foods, from savory to sweet. It uses fresh, real ingredients, making the Foodini the first 3D food printer kitchen appliance to contribute to a healthy eating lifestyle."

According to an article by Michael Moulitch-Hou on the 3Dprintingindustry.com website, here is how the revolutionary plug and play machine works.
Lynette Cuksma, co-founder of the barcelona-based company explains further in this video below.
Click on the pic to get linked to the video
In a CNN interview, she says, "In essence, this is a mini food manufacturing plant shrunk down to the size of an oven."

You basically need flavored cartridges to  print your food. I imagine these would come available when they start selling the Foodini. Some of it, like pasta,  still need  to be cooked. So don't throw out the oven and the microwave. Yet.

Is this the future of food? Probably. 
Will this ruin the culture of eating out? Probably not until space travel becomes a reality.

In the meantime, go make yourself a warm, home-cooked meal, before cooking becomes a thing of the past.

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