One of the ways that 3D printing technology promises to change the world is in the production of food. The idea is to take the raw components of food, run them through a printer, and produce something that is at once nutritious and tasty. NASA is interested in the application as a way to feed astronauts on deep space missions. Some commercial kitchens are already using 3D Printing to create chocolate sculptures and custom cake decorations. The Foodini is a 3D food printer that can be programmed to generate dishes that seem identical to those that are made naturally.

An eatery in London, Food Ink, serves from a menu that is entirely made up of 3D printed dishes,

A 3D printed food breakthrough

The Yissum Research Development Company in Israel has created a 3D printed food breakthrough, according to the Times of Israel. It is developing a 3D printer that uses nano-cellulose, a natural and edible calorie-free fiber to create custom-made dishes. The company claims that it will be able to make custom made meals tailored to the taste and dietary needs if any individual, already cooked and ready to eat.

The way that the 3D food printer works is that it used the nano-cellulose as a base, adding proteins, fats, carbs, vitamins, antioxidants, and so on. The customer programs the meal to his or her specification and the 3D printer creates it.

The secret is in the binding properties of the nano-cellulose, which has no inherent nutritional value. However, the addition of the other elements will, in theory, create any dish imaginable. Moreover, the meals can be gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, or tailored for people with specific medical conditions such as diabetes.

The ingredients can be stored indefinitely, cutting down on the need for preservatives and helping to eliminate food waste.

What happens now?

The Israeli food printer has produced some custom made dough at a 3D printing conference at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The researchers claim that they will have a product that can create custom-made food in two to five years.

The potential for what is, in effect, a Star Trek-style food replicator to change the way we eat is profound. If a home 3D printing machine could become economically viable, cooking could become a lost art. All someone would have to do is to load up the ingredients, program the meal, and a few minutes later have a dish ready to eat. No more messing with stoves, ovens, or even microwaves. No more grocery store shopping either. One could just have the raw materials for the 3D food printer home delivered periodically.