Inspired by Tradition: Exploring 3D Food Printing

Although I have been in a 3D printing area for a while, a recent discussion with some of the colleagues at the Creative LabSTEM to STEAM*: 21st Century Learning in Brisbane, encouraged me to explore the potential of 3D food printing – inspired by traditional cuisine – for enhancing creativity more deepen. Similar as the previously mentioned EggBot, an open-source art robot for drawing on eggs.

A 3D food printer is a special 3D printing system which enables the construction of parts using edible materials mainly from viscous materials (e.g. cheese, paté, dough, chocolate) and powdered substances (e.g. sugar). Shapes of the objects are, as in architecture or design, created using 3D modelling software or 3D digitisation methods. Sharing of recipes has been replaced with emailing or downloading of digital 3D print models.

Some of the first ideas of printing food (chocolate) were presented already in 2006 (see Hod Lipson, Melba Kurman, Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing, 2013, p134).

As recently published in Nature: “There is a big debate in the 3D-printing world: will one day everybody have a 3D printer at home? Is it like a personal computer?” says Hod Lipson, an engineer at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. “I think the answer is yes, but it’s not going to print plastic. It’s going to be a food printer.”

The next question is not so much how this will influence our traditional cuisine, but how the 3D printing of food can be inspired by culinary heritage.

A quick check on the recent projects using 3D food printers such as Foodini, ChefJet, Bocusini, and Pancake Bot shows that many of them are inspired by Italian, Chinese and other cuisine. Additionally, at the EXPO 2015 in Milan Barilla exhibit their own 3D pasta printer which allows you to make pasta in any shape you want.

Considering the above mentioned initiatives and the fact that the world’s 1st 3D Food Printing Conference in the Netherlands was held this April, it is obviously that 3D food printing will become the next buzzword. It doesn’t mean that old traditions will not be in use any more, but new technologies, inspired by heritage can certainly bring new ideas for growing, preparing and consuming food.

How 3D printed food inspired by potica, žlikrofi or prekmurska gibanica would look like?

*STEAM is a movement initiated by Rhode Island School of Design. It promotes integration of Art / Design into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)-based research and innovation.

Pasta maker Barilla to show off its 3D pasta printer at the Milan EXPO 2015,
Is 3-D food printing the next microwave?, The Boston Globe.
PancakeBot – The world’s first pancake printer!, Kickstrarter.

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