Hungry? Just Hit Print

(Mother Nature Network) Engineers and gourmet chefs are experimenting with creating foods from 3D printing. The technique allows them to produce foods in unique shapes and textures and to streamline repetitive tasks like filling ravioli. 3D food printers don’t look like traditional printers. They’re more like industrial fabrication machines with syringes. Users load the syringes with raw food “ink” — dough, chocolate or anything with a liquid consistency — and the machine “prints” the food by depositing layers of liquids to build the desired object. Just like a regular printer, the machine takes its instructions from a computer. Using software, a 3D representation of the food is created and divided into printable layers.

Barcelona-based company Natural Machines says it hopes its Foodini machine will promote more home cooking by managing the difficult or time-consuming parts of preparing homemade food. “Rather than buying pre-packaged, processed snacks like pretzels, breadsticks, crackers and cookies, you can make them with fresh ingredients at home,” the Foodini’s description reads.

Designers of commercial 3D printers believe that in the near future we’ll be able to download such “recipes” and print them in our home kitchens.