Imagine a scenario of pressing a few buttons and viola a machine “prints” your favorite meal. The reality of this actually happening is not that far off, but of course with limitations. Right now techno-culinaries chocedge have created a chocolate printing process, which layers delicious chocolate into computer generated designs. The early adopters of 3D food printing strike me as high end custom providers, spewing fondant spindles into commercial grade 3D food printers that churn out precise shapes and edible figurines for birthday cakes, candies and other easily “inkable” materials – primarily confections.
That’s all fine and dandy for custom cake bosses and cutting edge chocolatiers – but how do I print my favorite meal in Star Trek replicator style? We would need to have alot of materials on hand, aka food ink, to print our favorite dishes – fridges would need to become giant food ink coolers. The science behind the building blocks of food would need to increase significantly, and the cost would need to decrease to make it a viable option, see test-tube burger. What if you could print a steak out of soy/algae hybrid filaments, flavor it with an aussie branded injection pack and throw it on the grill? If it didn’t cost more than a steak at the store – and your kitchen is armed with a 3D printer – why wouldn’t you try it? Your local markets could simply become filament refill depots – branded protein filaments, yum. I don’t believe it will be a requirement of the printer to cook the food object necessarily at first – but it would be a whole lot better if it did, I want to print bread, not dough.
All in all the ideas are here, and as 3D printing evolves, the idea of food printing will grow. It will take years before consumers all have a 3D printer in house, and many more before every kitchen has one. The possibilities are truly endless as we further research into proteins, fats, and the 3D printing technology. First will come the custom food printing, and as that becomes more adopted I definitely can see 3D food printing becoming a part of everyday life.