3D Printed Pizza. Source: Janine on flickr.com
3D Printed Pizza. Source: Janine on flickr.com

3D Printed Food

There are some exciting things going on in the 3D printing world and 3D printed food offers new possibilities.

Choc Creator

The Choc Creator was developed by Dr. Liang Hao at the University of Exeter. The Choc Creator uses Fused Deposition Modeling to extrude melted chocolate through a heated nozzle layer by layer. The Choc Creator does not currently print food-grade certified chocolate, but Dr. Liang Hao is working on the next model that will do so.

Once a food-grade certified model comes out, the benefits for chocolatiers, bakers, and hobbyists will be great. The Choc Creator will allow users to design customized chocolates that can be printed as needed. This will reduce costs of keeping a certain number of chocolates in stock. This will also allow the ease of printing seasonal or promotional chocolates without buying expensive molds. The Choc Creator can also print designs on cakes, cookies, or biscuits.

NASA-funded 3D Food Printer

NASA has funded a 3D printer that could potentially print food. NASA donated $125,000 to Anjan Contractor, an engineer for Systems and Materials Research Corporation to develop a 3D printer that can print food in space.The pizza printer uses oil and powders containing protein and carbohydrates to create the ingredients from scratch. NASA takes out all of the moisture of the powders so that the foodstuff has a shelf life of at least five years and still maintains nutritional value.                     

Speculators wonder if 3D food printers will end world hunger: 3D printing powder-based materials into nutritional food could potentially reduce animal slaughter and the growing of plants used solely as feed for these animals.

3D Bioprinting Food

Scientists Gabor Forgacs, Andras Forgacs, et al. at Modern Meadow are also working on 3D printers that will use replicated cells that could potentially be used for food. By taking cells from a cow, the cells would replicate and be 3D printed as a food source without the need for slaughtering animals. Currently, Modern Meadows is focusing on 3D printing leather, which they hope will lead to food production in 5-10 years.

This lab-produced alternative will become an option for animal-rights activists. Animals will not need to be slaughtered for their hides and meat, which will help sustainability and improve animal-rights.

The Next 30 Years

3D printed food may be a reality sooner than we think. With all of the advances going on in 3D printing, we could see new food processes within 30 to 50 years. This possibility could offer solutions to world hunger and sustainability, not to mention helping the Mars mission become a viable option. 

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