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  • Printer to Plate

    09 September 2016 Back

    The possibilities appear to be endless when it comes to 3D printing; initially limited to small household objects, the technology of additive manufacturing has rapidly developed to the point where we can now print food!

    Pop-up Restaurant

    If, like us, you are intrigued, the reality of sampling 3D printed delicacies at a restaurant near you may not be as far off as you think; Anthony Dobrzensky’s pop-up restaurant ‘Food Ink.’ – tag line - Taste Tomorrow Today - Premiered this July in Shoreditch, it offered printer to plate service in full view of it’s Customers. The two chefs, Joel Castanye and Mateu Blanch, created a nine-course menu of dishes printed from cartridges of food paste made from natural ingredients.

    3D Treats

    Of interest to the less gourmet palette, 3D Systems have also created ‘the Cheflet’, designed specifically to create sweets of unique shapes and patterns! Collaborating with Hershey’s, 3D Systems look to bring 3D printed sweets to the public. Are 3D printed food vending machines not too far around the corner?

    The Skeptics

    Though many are excited about the possibilities this new technology offers, it is countered with skepticism –3D printed food isn’t poised to take the place of traditional food preparation in the home - Currently 3D food printers do not have the ability to cook and do not save time domestically; in fact they add steps to the process. This leads some to question the relevancy of 3d printers outside of gourmet dining and novelty products, is it any more than just a gimmick?

    The Context

    We draw parallels to 3D printing in Product Design - where 3D printing was initially used on exclusive custom made pieces, but through the experimentation of Scientists, Designers and Artists became increasingly accessible; leading to amazing humanitarian breakthroughs in prosthetics and medicine as well as the emergence of commercially viable products (check out our new 3D printed Rio tables!). We are excited to see the developments in 3D printed food following the same path.

    The Future

    There is the potential for 3D printing to transform previously under utilized food sources, such as algae and insects; with a rising population and the associated issues of sustainability, getting creative with unique ingredients could be essential. 3D printed food has also proven to be beneficial to nursing home patients that have difficulty chewing , in Germany, more than one thousand nursing homes are already providing Smoothfoods - nutritionally balanced 3D printed meals. The ability to customize vitamin and protein contents is predicted to be of benefit to the Army, as the required meals can be made at the right time, of the correct portion size and to include the correct nutrients for the soldiers.

    Far from being a foody fad, we think the most exciting applications for 3D printed food technology are yet to come!

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