3D Printing Food

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3D Printing Food

Introduction

The possibilities that 3D printing food gives us are almost too numerous to count and, as such, there’s more than plenty of reason to get excited about it!

3D Printing takes food preparation to a whole other level and it also looks poised to enable us to lead not only tastier but more nutritionally oriented lives as well.

To understand how 3D printing can change the way we eat the meals that are the highlight of so much of ours days, it’s worth comparing 3D printing to something like the microwave oven, which changed the look at methodology of cooking overnight.

But where the microwave has been responsible for a loss of nutritional value in our foods, 3D printing can help us restore and even increase the nutritional value without increasing preparation times or negatively impacting on the appearance and taste of our meals.

Looking further away from our dining tables, it is even looking as though 3D printing will play a crucial role in the way that we will survive in outer space and on new colonies on Mars and the international space station.

This all may seem like science fiction, but there are already a number of restaurants offering 3D printed foods on their menus. While you can already buy a chocolate 3D printer for home use now!

How Do 3D Printers Work with Food?

If you’re already somewhat familiar with 3D printing plastic, you’ll have a good idea of the same principles can be applied to food manufacture and preparation.

Food 3D printers can assemble food designs by adding one layer on top of the other in a coordinated fashion that relies on the three-dimensional maneuvers of a preprogrammed print head that delivers food materials. It may employ powdery, liquid, or semi-solid food materials to create a finished dish.

So, for instance, if you wanted to print out a pizza that you can then throw in the oven, you could program a food printer to extrude the dough, then the sauce, cheese and toppings to your liking. In this case, different extruder heads would be needed to deal with the different viscosities and properties of the ingredients.

Types of Food 3D Printer

The most common printing technique is called hot-melt extrusion which pushes melted material through an extrusion head so that the material may harden. This is exactly the same principle as plastic FDM 3D printers employ.

Another technology uses Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) to heat powdered food materials and then bond them in accordance with a programmed design.

Binder jetting food printers work in a manner that’s similar, only that instead of relying on a heat source, they use a liquid binder to create layer on top of the powder-covered layer.

There’s also inkjet printing where gravity is used to drop edible food ink in a way that you can imprint accurate images on top of things like a cake and other pastries.

As you can see, there are different printing methods that work best with different types of goals. Some are better for baking based ideas while others are more ideal for adding aesthetic accompaniments to a larger dish.

Ingredients for Food 3D Printers

The truly great thing is that Food 3D Printers can use all types of fresh ingredients, requiring only that they must have some kind of property of a paste or powder-like substance so that they can be extruded or sintered at a steady rate.

The rule thus far is, if you can puree it, you can most probably print it! This means that 3D printers can competency work with mashed potatoes, dairy products, pasta, wheat, grains and of course, chocolate! The easiest materials are those that are heated and like with baked goods, harden as they cool down.

Even if it might be hard to comprehend it now, people have even started to print meat with an intriguing degree of success and there have been successful pizzas, baked goods, and more.

Beautifying Our Food

The aesthetic considerations that come along with the presentation that chefs give their dishes will increase many times over when they find themselves with a food 3D printer conveniently set up in their kitchens,

This will make the act of eating out a much more engaging experience than what currently tends to be seen in the dishes that are served up in our favorite places to eat.

Elaborate plating of meals currently only seen in the top Michelin Starred restaurants can become available at much lower price ranges, as the manual labor required to prepare them is completely taken over by the 3D printer.

I’ve no doubt that chefs like Heston Blumenthal and Alton Brown will find their own unique ways to make use of food 3D printing and take it to the next level too.

One thing that will be interesting to keep our eyes on our notions of art vs food is sure to become more commonplace and people will start to feel they truly consume more art than they had before!

Special occasions can be marked by meals and cakes that are more special than ever before. We could really start to devise meals for important events in our lives that really speak to the meaning we hope to find in them. Rather than a cake with your name iced on it, you could have a whole three-course meal tailored to your special occasion!

It’s a pretty inspiring thing to consider how the creativeness of chefs may start to cross over into the digital world. Wouldn’t it be much more interesting for our dining experiences at restaurants if the people making your food could use computer-aided design (CAD) to design not only the taste of your food but its entire shape and appearance!

With the food printers like the ChefJet Pro 3D printed you can powder cubes that go in a soup. So cocktail specialists are using it to make printed crystals of salt and even printed garnishes.

3D Printing Food for Better Nutrition

What cannot be overstated is how the benefits don’t just end with the taste or appearance that a 3D printer can produce. It also looks like it may help us to eat considerably healthier than ever. By giving us the power to choose just how much of each ingredient to include, it gives us a way to really stick to our diets and nourish our unique bodies in much better and more precise ways than ever thought possible.

We may start to have a real say in not only how we prepare our food, and what kind of nutritional value they’ll have, but in the aesthetic appearance of the final outcome as well.

This last bit will help tremendously in keeping our eating habits as pleasant, personalized and enjoyable as possible. It isn’t too hard to imagine a world where you can order food in a way that’s not unlike the way in which you would commission a custom article of clothing.

All kinds of restaurants and take-out services could receive a very personalized order that really speaks to the tastes and wishes of those they serve.

Changing the Landscape

Food printing could be of great benefit to the production of food, for instance, is moving away from our overwhelming dependence on processed food that makes up the majority of all food that we consume.

Experts see this technology as an opportunity to rely on more wholesome routes that could see wonderful benefits to our overall health. If the world of fast food could implement the use of this technology, we could see a dramatic shift in the quality of life that the average person experiences.

One promising example is an Italian company called WASP that promotes healthier eating by producing healthier versions of the world’s most popular foods with the help of 3D printing that in turn allows them to avoid any gluten.

When it comes down to business, it should be in the interest of these major food companies to provide their consumers with the most nutritious products that they can. At any rate, there are strides being made within food printing to provide everyone with healthier versions of the foods that they already love so much.

The Future of Food Printing Looks Promising

3D printing our food is a very intriguing idea for us as a society, particularly as it could give us considerable more freedom to prepare for ourselves both conventional and unconventional dishes. It is sure to save us time and effort as the technology continues to be finessed by both engineers and culinary experts that are working together to take it in new, unexplored directions.

People who already have a genuine desire for preparing new meals, achieving new tastes, or even would just like to have healthier versions of what they already like, are sure to find the emergence of Food 3D printing to be both attractive and inspiring.

Take a minute to imagine those dishes that you have always felt that only a very talented chef could elaborate. Now, they could be literally, at your fingerprints!

It isn’t too hard to imagine that in the not so far future one will be able to upload all kinds of tasty recipes into one´s home food printer, load in the ingredients and just wait for what’s made ready to eat. After a long day at work, what could be better?

-Dylan

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