Food printing is the most recent hype in the world of 3D printing. This production method 3D prints food layer-by-layer, and several companies are working on techniques to print out proper meals. 3dprinting.com is keeping an eye on the world’s developments and we bring you the ones worth following in 2014.
Last year’s December, we asked ourselves the question whether our future food would become 3D printed. Obviously, it’s hard to give a proper answer to this question, as the technique is still in its developing phase. However, the first signs of food printing are already entering the market. Companies such as Choc Edge and Pic Chocolates are offering services to 3D print people’s self-designed chocolate figurines. In the long term, Natural Machines is a more relevant company to mean something for the overall food sector. The company works on a 3D printer to produce anything that’s made of dough, paste or stiff liquid, such as all pastas and breads.
Eating a pizza in space, how bizzare would that be? Well, it appears to be the future, as NASA has invested as much as 125,000 dollars in a project to 3D print pizzas in space. Anjan Contractor was the person to create this 3D printer and last year he won this gigantic sum of money by NASA. He has now officially come up with a prototype of his 3D pizza printer. R U hungry?
For cosmonauts this will probably be a big relief, if you take into account that they are used to dull space meals. However, we can imagine that this 3D printer will not directly make you hanker for your first 3D printed meal. In this new video by Contractor you can take a look at his machine, which is creating a square pizza layer-by-layer. After the entire 3D printing process this pizza is still a mixture of dough, but the idea behind it is that we have to image what it would look like after it would have been cooked. If we would have to believe Contractor, it only takes 70 seconds to cook such a pizza after being printed.
In the future two developments are thought to become very important: using 3D printers to create food and eating insects. Both developments probably don’t sound too delicious at first sight, but they are thought to be the solution to global food supply problems around 2050. British scientists have combined the “3D printing” and “insects” part in order to develop a technique to turn insects into appetizing meals.
In the near future, the population on earth is expected to grow while we’ll not be having enough food to feed everyone. The European Union and the World Food Organisation agree on the fact that eating insects could be the solution to this problem, as there are loads on insects and they can easily be turned into flour in order to prepare good, healthy meals.
The world of 3D printed food has been taking some big steps, as American candy giant The Hershey Company has teamed up with 3D Systems to produce its own 3D printed sweets. The companies have signed a multi-year joint development agreement in order to implement new ways of creating candy for the masses.
This news followed days after 3D Systems successfully demonstrated its new 3D food printers at CES 2014. The brand new ChefJet and ChefJet Pro can both create sugary products, such as candy. To be more specific, the ChefJet is able to produce candy with one flavor, using sugar, water, ink and one of the possible flavors, such as mint, vanilla, cherry and watermelon. The ChefJet Pro can create candy in different colors and both printers are capable of producing cake toppings and garnishes. They are both expected to be delivered in the second half of 2014.
3D printing can perfectly be used to produce food and there are a lot of companies working on 3D printing techniques to make it easier to prepare a perfect meal. A new company working on building a 3D food printer is MELT icepops from Amsterdam, The Netherlands. This company is creating 3D printer that prints out specially designed on-site ice creams.
The printer the company is working on is called the Icepop Generator and the idea behind this device is that it can be used at festivals and events. Visitors will be able to create their own ice pop design, after which the Icepop Generator prints out their designs. This means the machine could easily create an ice cream of your own head using a 3D scanner, or print out a drawing you’ve just made.
There are people in the world of 3D printing who think in the near future most of us will have a 3D printer in our kitchen. If you think about it and look at the current market of 3D food printers, you must admit they have a point saying that. Choc Edge successfully came up with a chocolate printer, Piq Chocolates offers a chocolate printing service, Natural Machines is working on a 3D printer that can produce pastas and breads and even NASA is busy with 3D printing food projects. And now 3D Systems has come up with a new food printer series, demonstrated at CES 2014.
The last couple of days we explained you how to create your own Christmas Ornaments on a 3D printer. Because Christmas is a feast with a lot of food, it’s cool to also learn how to bake your own Christmas cookies on such a 3D Printer. In fact it’s very easy, because everything you need is online on sites such as Thingiverse and YouTube.
Credits: Ralf Holleis.
Thingiverse is a website on which do-it-yourselfers can upload their own 3D printing files in order to make it possible for everyone to create the same objects with a 3D printer. You can find lots of objects on these websites, but also Christmas cookies. Let’s take a look at what the do-it-yourselfers at Thingiverse have to offer us.
One might say he’s a nerd in the kitchen, but at least Luis Rodríguez does something new. The young man calls himself a digital cook and he uses 3D printing to create the perfect pancake. Original idea? We absolutely think so.
Credits: Luis Rodríguez – Tumblr.
If Rodríguez would be boss of the kitchen, then cooks could pack their stuff, because his main goal is to merge food with rapid prototyping. In his first video he shows us how to make a pancake with a 3D printer. You can see the result in the picture above. Yes, it’s a pancake in the shape of a flower.
Dutch research institution TNO is working on a 3D food printer that can turn puréed food look like ‘real’ food again by printing it.
TNO-researcher Kjeld van Bommel expects that in five years food will be printed and served in nursing homes. “We are going to print 3d-broccoli florets out of puréed broccoli”. What happens now is that people with chewing and swallowing problems get a sort of milkshake with puréed food as a meal, three times a day.
“All the fun of eating disappears for these people, and because of this some people get underfed in nursing homes. Puréed chicken in the shape of a drumstick could change this. People then get food on their plate again that they have eat using cutlery. This way they feel less disadvantaged and will improve their eating habits. That again leads to a better quality of life. This printer also needs to be able to adjust the meals to the specific needs of patients, some patients need more calcium in their food for instance.” Said Van Bommel.
The European Union supports this project of TNO with funding until the end of 2014. After that, a prototype must be able to print a meal every minute. Van Bommel expects that a few years later production models will be able to print even faster and will be widely adopted in the health care industry.
Besides that, Van Bommel says that TNO is working together with a few major international food-companies (that need to remain anonymous) to develop 3d printing technologies for nutrients.
So what else can food printing be used for?
This technology can contribute to converting alternative ingredients such as proteins from algae, beet tops, or even insects into tasty products that are not only good for your health but also for the environment. A food printer also opens the way for fully customizable nutrition (Personalized Food) as it can make products that exactly fit the needs and preferences of individuals.
In addition, the printer can make sure that your personal dish is made at exactly the right time te ensure that a fresh and healthy dish waiting for you when you get home.
And finally, the printing of food provides enormous freedom in design. This applies not only to the 3D shape but also for the composition (the ingredients and their mutual relationship), the structure and texture, not to mention the taste. This makes it possible to develop products that can not be made otherwise.
Take a look at this great video by TNO:
Very interesting as well is this TEDx Brainport by Kjalt van Bommel
Chocolate 3D printer
During the Foodhack event in Eindhoven yesterday evening, Van Bommel showed a chocolade 3D printer TNO developed. This printer basically uses the conventional 3D printing FDM technology (layer by layer) but because there is no such thing as a chocolate spool, this printer uses a technique similar to that of a cream spray but automated. The chocolate is heated to make it liquid and after printing immediately cooled down using nitrogen.
Van Bommel doesn’t expect this machine to take over the role of baking companies but he expects a printer like this to be in the kitchen of hobbyists.
Sean Hegarty from CNCDudez informed us of his newest project, the 3D Printer Extruding Icing/Frosting for decorating Cakes and Buns. Their goal is to see if they could ice a cake (preferably also 3d printed) with the use of a 3d printer.
What they did is they attached an icing/piping extruder to a custom bracket they made for their printer. Then they adapted the extruder with a linear motor connected to the plunger, modified the firmware and created Gcode to get the feed rates correct.
The next video shows their first attempts. They are still testing as there are some problems with the consistency for the mixture. But as it seems now it won’t take long before we see our first perfectly iced cake made possible with the use of a 3D printer!
Make sure to check out their blog if you want to know more about this project.