Technology

Why 3D Print Plastic When You Can Print Food?

December 10, 2015 | Elizabeth Knowles

3D printing chocolate in the shape of a dodecahedron.
Photo credit: BuisinessWire/Hershey

From chocolate to pancakes — you'll want to add these 3D printers to your wish list!

3D printing first became popular in the late 1980s when it was seen as a fast and cost-effective way to produce prototypes for products in development. Since then it has been used for many purposes including, most recently, food.

Chocolate

Hershey has partnered with 3D Systems to create a 3D chocolate printing exhibit at Hershey’s Chocolate World Attraction. Not only can visitors see finished and printing versions of 3D-printed chocolate, they can scan themselves to see what they would look like printed in chocolate and converse with chocolate-printing scientists (who wouldn’t want that as a job title?).

Smoothfood

German researchers have been using 3D printers to help the elderly. They have created Smoothfood. By filling a 3D printer with liquefied veggies, meat, and carbs, they are printing puréed food in appealing shapes. Thus, people who may have trouble digesting regular food can still feel like they’re eating a regular meal. Admittedly, this isn’t the most mouth-watering of applications.

SEE ALSO: Remarkable Father Uses 3D Printer To Teach His Blind Daughter

Gummies

I don’t know what it is about Germany and 3D printing food, but Germany’s third largest candy maker, Katjes, has begun 3D printing gummies in a café in Berlin. They also have a website where you can choose flavors and shapes to design your own perfect gummy. According to their website, each gummy takes between 5 and 10 minutes to print.

Pancakes

If it’s too early in the morning for gummies, why not try out PancakeBot? According to their Kickstarter page, the 3D-pancake-printing robot is made “to inspire, entertain, and bring out the creativity in both young and old at home.” You can draw images on a computer and then transfer them over and watch as your pancake appears. By using food coloring and shading layers, you can even create a colorful breakfast.

You can pre-order PancakeBot for $299.99 on their website.

Space Food

While most people will never get the chance to try 3D-printed space food, it’s still a pretty neat application. The food that NASA and other space agencies send into space for their astronauts has improved a lot over the years, but there are still issues that will need to be fixed before a Mars mission is possible. According to NASA, “The current food system wouldn’t meet the nutritional needs and five-year shelf life required for a mission to Mars or other long duration missions. […] Over long duration missions, a variety of acceptable food is critical to ensure crew members continue to eat adequate amounts of food, and consequently, get the nutrients they need to maintain their health and performance.” So, they are looking at the feasibility of 3D printing food in space.

 

Someday, all of the food we eat might be 3D-printed. It could save time and diminish waste. What kind of 3D printed food would you be most interested in trying? Comment below!

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