We all remember the Replicator, the Star Trek food manufacturer, able to turn any molecule into edible food and whole dishes. 3D food printing is able to make dishes from different pastes and materials, so it seems we are getting closer to the science-fiction concept. However, this time we are not in a sci-fi movie! Just look at the innovations already offered by different manufacturers: 3D Systems’ ChefJet, Nautral Machines’ Foodini, BeeHex’s Chef3D, etc. These are all machines that can make chocolate, pasta, sugar and even more dishes: the possibilities are almost unlimited.
An homage to the Versailles palace, printed in sugar.
The first results of 3D food printing, however, were not spectacular. The printed objects were made from a sugar paste and were often not desirable for consumption. But the development of technology, especially FDM, has helped perfect the process so that you can now make chocolate, sweets, or even real meals. One of the main advantages is undoubtedly the freedom of design, which is already widely used in other sectors. Indeed, 3D printers are able to create very complex shapes that are difficult to achieve with traditional methods. This also applies to 3D food printing. Originally, most of the machines used were modified FDM printers. Today we already have 3D food printers specialising in the production of delicious and refined dishes. But what is the future of 3D food printing? Can it revolutionise the way we cook and eat?
The beginning of 3D food printing in space travel
In 2006, NASA began researching 3D printed food, some have called this project the origin of 3D food printing. In 2013, NASA developed another project, the NASA Advanced Food Program, with a simple mission: how to best feed a team of astronauts for longer missions? In cooperation with BeeHex they developed the Chef3D, which was able to 3D print a pizza. The pizza only had to be pushed into the oven.