Photo: Samosudov/Shutterstock

Honey, What’s Printing for Dinner Tonight?

Photo: Samosudov/Shutterstock
Anne Merritt
Sep 15, 2011
And you thought your stand mixer was fancy.

Researchers from the Cornell Creative Machines Lab are developing a 3-D food printer called the Fab@Home, a name that rolls off the tongue far easier than the Jetsons’ Food-a-Rac-a-Cycle. The printer uses food “inks”to make precise, digitally designed food. Mechanical engineers are collaborating with the French Culinary Institute to develop the technology.

The food is loaded into the printer like a toner cartridge, then pumped through a syringe to create a design based on the digital blueprint. So far, only raw food has been produced, using soft materials such as cheese, pesto, and frosting. The printer’s engineers say that a printer which also cooks the food is a conceivable next step.

These food printers will allow chefs to create more experimental and artistic dishes.

In the home, these printers can help people prepare meals more quickly and easily. Future models may involve downloadable menus, where users can whip up a Nigella Lawson cake or Gordon Ramsay pasta dish, just by hitting “print.”

The Fab@Home also presents a novelty when feeding fussy kids or those smug dinner guests you didn’t really want to invite in the first place. Broccoli shaped like Transformers? Mashed potatoes sculpted as the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia? Yes and yes, please.

In 20 years’ time, I’m sure we’ll expect nothing less.

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