ESTEEM Center for Equity in Science, Technology, Engineering, English & Math



3D Printed Foods

Not So Futuristic Now

3D printed foods – you’ve seen them in Star Trek or other sci-fi films. They are not as futuristic as you might think. You could have 3D-printed foods at your home within the next five years. 3D-printed foods are much like the standard 3D printing process; the only difference is you are taking plastic from the 3D printing process and replacing it with food paste. You use the food paste and then extrude it through a nozzle.

There are even some companies that are selling 3D-printed foods commercially. One example is Sugar Lab. They use powders and colored sugar syrup as a binder to make several products. Most projects are geometric shapes, which is only possible with 3D-printed foods. Right now, they are limited to dehydrated powder materials that must be very fine, but future technology advancements could fix that. This likely will be something other than the product that would be commercially sold. Most commercially sold things now use paste, not powders – things like pancake makers and chocolate 3D printers. A benefit of 3D printing is the nutritional benefit because you can put more nutritional things into more appetizing shapes, for example, putting protein powder into chocolate and printing it into a shape that you could eat.

As recently as March of last year, the University of Columbia designed and successfully printed a seven-layer cheesecake using peanut butter, jelly, and graham cracker paste. Things like this have been done before, but the new advancement used lasers to toast the top. This sounds very good, but what doesn’t sound good about it is the price. The printer they were using was $1,000, and the lasers were $500 each in addition to the cost of the printer. The 3D-printed foods will not just affect your wallet; they could also affect your time because 3D-printing foods take time. The single slice of cheesecake that they made took 30 minutes. With the price and time it takes to make food – not even including the cooking portion – it isn’t worth buying a 3D food printer until it gets cheaper and faster.

With all the tech and preparation that has to go into 3D food printers, the current price is not worth it. But in the coming years, 3D food printers will be in almost every household, taken on space trips, and much more.


Cocoa Press 3D Chocolate Printer DIY Kit


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