Generally speaking, 3D printed food is a meal prepared through an automated additive process. While this definition can be quite abstract (and it is), think of those pizza vending machines that surfaced back in 2015. The dough is prepared, extruded, topped with tomato sauce and cheese, and finally sent to the oven – all within the same machine. This process, in a way, can be considered a primitive 3D printing food process.
Fast forward to 2020 and we have exclusive 3D printing restaurants and dozens of food printers available on the market. This rapid growth in both technology and public interest has lead many to claim that, soon enough, every household kitchen will be equipped with its own food 3D printer.
In reality, 3D printed food is still in its infancy and has a long way to go before seeing a broader adoption from professionals and consumers. However, this doesn’t stop us from marveling at these fascinating machines and their intriguing edible designs.
Which Foods Can Be 3D Printed?
The foods that can be 3D printed are limited to the processes available (as we’ll see in the next section). Material extrusion is by far the most common process for 3D printing food, and, similar to FDM printing, requires paste-like inputs like purées, mousses, and other viscous foods such as chocolate ganache.
At first, it might feel a bit restricted in terms of options, but think of all the possible combinations between doughs, mashes, cheeses, frostings, and even raw meats.
In this article, we’ll explore the entire 3D printed food industry: the processes, foods, possibilities, and current challenges. Hope you’re hungry!