Yes, it is true. A 3-D printer that makes edible goodies has been successfully tested and some surprising results are leading humanity closer to real versions of the Star Trek style of food making devices. According to Discover Magazine and many other sources, economical food printers are available and printed food will soon be available for the smaller business or for the home.
It is all the brain trust of Cornell’s Computational Synthesis Laboratory and the French Culinary Institute, which recently created a deep fried confection of scallops and cheese that is in the shape of the Space Shuttle. The project is called Fab@Home and works like any other 3D printer.
3D printers follow computer instructions and spray layer after layer of material until a three dimensional object is built up. Instead of ceramic or metal pastes, the food printers use food pastes.
The food printers use syringes filled with any raw food that has a liquid consistency. Applications or programs have three levels of instruction that tell the desired shape, how to make the shape, and how the raw material works. Think of the cake toppers, cookies, shaped doughs and shaped meats that can then be cooked, fried, baked, boiled or applied as a finished object.
Projects using cheese, chocolate, hummus and turkey have resulted in printed, delightfully textured and tasty treats.
Fab@Home is an open source program that calls for all interested parties to join in with their ideas for using 3D printers to process all kinds of three dimensional items at home using what the group calls “digital fabricators”. One suggestion is to use the food fabricator with an alarm clock to create a printed “breakfast” that is prepared while the automatic coffee maker is brewing the coffee.
The home user will not have to study at the computer and technology institute to make the device work, either. There will be food applications that will make the whole process easy. Add in some on line social networking and recipes can be created, modified and shared with friends.
The NextFab store has assembled systems for sale. These are priced at between $3,300 US for a single syringe model and $3,500 US for a double syringe model. There is no news about specific software for making food, but the Fab@Home website has extensive pages for sharing and democratizing the source code and programs for the world to use!