The printer is no longer a machine for simply applying ink to paper. From the humble beginnings of slow mono printers to the vibrancy and sophistication of modern colour devices, printing has been transformed. Now we are inundated by new printing technologies, the most notable being 3D printing.
3D printing has already propelled itself into uncharted (and yet exciting) territories in its relatively short existence. Prosthetic limbs, musical instruments, and even buildings have received the 3D printed treatment alongside a long list of other awe-inspiring objects. However, all these objects have one thing in common…you can’t eat them. What if you could 3D print edible creations? Well…
Raspberry ripe for the printed pickings
Cambridge-based tech company Dovetailed has taken 3D design to a whole new level of deliciousness. Using ‘spherification’ (a molecular gastronomy technique), the team ‘combined individual liquid droplets with a variety of flavours into a desired shape, allowing for the creation of interesting bespoke fruits in a matter of seconds.’ (Dovetailed).
Commenting on the project, Vaiva Kalnikaite, Creative Director and Founder of Dovetailed, said, ‘We have been thinking of making this for a while. It’s such an exciting time for us as an innovation lab. Our 3D fruit printer will open up new possibilities not only to professional chefs but also to kitchens in our home – allowing us to enhance and expand our dining experiences. We have re-invented the concept of fresh fruit on demand.’
Unveiled at Cambridge’s ‘Tech Food Hack’ an experimental dining hackathon event, the 3D printer went down very well with visitors. Dovetailed’s Chief Inventor, Gabriel Villar, was also keen to point out how easy it is to create customised products, ‘With our novel printing technique, you can not only re-create existing fruits, but also invent your own creations. The taste, texture, size and shape of the fruit can all be customised.’
‘International (food) Love’
This tantalisingly fresh innovation has already spurred on a flurry of similar developments within the food world.
Across the pond in the US, two more ‘sweet -toothed’ 3D printers were unveiled in Los Angeles. Both models can print using chocolate, or sugar infused with vanilla, mint, sour apple, cherry, and watermelon flavours (so not your regular printer cartridges then). The machines are capable of creating very intricate shaped sweets which would be extremely difficult using traditional methods.
The designs are built using a layer-by-layer printing process. Sweets are created by spreading a fine layer of the flavoured sugar, and then painting water on top using a jet print head to turn the substance into hardened crystals. The process is then repeated to make the resulting edible objects, which can even have moving parts.
All around the world culinary creations are taking place, creations that incorporate the futuristic flair and precision of 3D printing. Natural Machines a (Spanish start-up) recently unveiled their food-filled printer aptly named ‘Foodini.’ Foodini is capable of producing chocolate, ravioli pasta and a host of other tasty treats.
With so many customised treats in the pipeline, printing has suddenly become a lot more mouth-watering. It’s entirely possible that we could soon be eating entire three course meals made by a 3D printers.