The last time you pressed “print,” you probably collected a neatly typed paper — what if instead of letters and reports, your printer started turning out elegant cake toppers, or nutritious nutty biscuits?
3D printers have been around since the 1980s, and have worked their way into a number of markets including aerospace, automobiles, and even jewelry.
As prices drop even farther to consumer level possibilities, food comes into the mix. Because if you can print a circuit board, why not a pizza?
Below, some of the most creative, innovative, and exciting ways 3D printing is already changing our world – and our dinner tables:
Pizza was an early 3D food attempt. While original versions tasted artificial, some of the newer printers are turning out cheesier, crustier pizza dinners. You still have to do a little work though: putting it in the oven.
2. Space Food
While freeze-dried ice cream and spaghetti are fun for us, they can get old when you’re living in space. Now engineers are experimenting with technology that will allow astronauts to print their food — making mealtime in space a lot more like home.
3. Bread that Grows
We’re used to food spoiling… what about food growing before our eyes? Chloe Rutzerveld’s printer crafts a pastry shell whose interior is a sprouting ground for all the good stuff: spores, fungi, and seeds. Wait a few days, and you’ve got a nutritious snack.
4. Elegant Sweets
The food group that’s proved most practical for printing is the sugar group: cookies, chocolate, and decorations. Can you imagine going to a wedding where the cake topper was printed to match the bride’s veil — or the couple themselves?
5. Dinner in a Capsule
Some researchers are interested in the 3D frenzy leading to healthier options. The Foodini, billed as a new generation kitchen appliance, prints food that’s good for you: just scoop fresh ingredients into a capsule, insert into your printer, and out comes a wholesome meal.
6. Sustainable Nourishment
Finding sustainable options is becoming more and more essential as our population grows. If we can find alternative proteins, we can use printers to shape them into appetizing foods that last longer and cut waste. That will vary our diet, and help the planet.
7. Kid Pleasers
If it’s difficult to get your young ones to eat their vegetables, 3D printers can make mealtime a whole lot easier. What about broccoli in the shape of dinosaurs? Or scallops shaped like rocket ships?
8. Customized Nutrition
Someday soon, we’ll be able to measure exactly what vitamins and minerals our bodies need at any given moment. 3D printing could allow us to precisely customize our meals: program your nutrient requirements, and out comes the perfect meal optimized for your health.
There are chocolate printers, fruit printers, a popular pancake printer raking in thousands on Kickstarter, and many more. What it comes down to is the possibility of creating exactly the food we need, wherever we are at — whether it’s in space, or in our living rooms. With chocolate, pizza, and scallops shaped like rockets … what will be next?