A machine that “prints” foods such as pizza is on the way. The Foodini is designed to make it easier to prepare fresh foods rather than rely on processed, prepared meals.
While the device works along the lines of a 3D printer, it uses natural food ingredients rather than plastics. In principle it can work with any ingredient that is relatively solid but still flexible at room temperature.
In practice, that mostly means pasta and bread or cookie doughs, but manufacturers Natural Machines say they have used it to turn ground meat into burgers or nuggets, and even to produce filled pasta, though the sauce has to be neither too runny nor too chunky. In the current edition, the printer only assembles the foods and you still need to cook them, though later models may include a heating/cooking option.
To use the printer you need to put the various ingredients into small capsules. While you can use your own food items, the company plans to partner with food suppliers to produce pre-filled capsules. However, it insists these won’t have any artificial preservatives, so will have a short shelf life.
The printer uses a touchscreen interface and has an Internet connection, letting you choose a prepared recipe or giving you the ability to create your own.
According to the manufacturers, printing time will be from a matter of moments for simple foods such as crackers, to up to 20 minutes for intricate chocolate sculptures.
Foodini will target two markets. The first is professional chefs and food producers who want the ability to produce finely crafted designs, such as cookies with a logo or artwork, on a bigger scale than is possible when working solely by hand.
The second is consumers who have more money than time and like the idea of eating fresh foods and controlling ingredients but find preparation fiddly. One example the company gives is using the machine to produce ravioli from scratch, something that can be very time-consuming and tricky.
The plan is to produce initial units in the coming months, with a mass production run next year. The expected price is around $1,300.