It’s been a while since I’ve posted an article on 3D printers. Since they started showing up a few years ago, starting with MakeBot, I’ve been waiting for the day I can say to my computer, “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot” and have more than a snicker thrown my way with a Trekkie reference added in for good measure. Let’s put this into perspective people, home 3D printers have come a long way in a short amount of time, but we have a long road ahead of us before we have replicators in our home. There are several implementations of 3D printers out there, pop open the link to get a little more familiar with each if you find yourself somewhat lost at this point in the post.
3D printing food looks like a synthesis of melding one of the 3D printing technologies with a food based medium, but what I’m interested in is the next step.
Let’s assume that we’ve evolved the 3D printing technology to the point where we have CNC like precision and fabrication speeds comparable to a laser printer. The unit would be about the size of a small refrigerator, and would be fed medium cartridges containing various forms of carbohydrates, proteins, etc. A user could manually program a “recipe” which would include dimensions, composition, temperature, state (liquid, solid, etc), textures, and so on, or a user could select a template and zip something up with little fuss.
Next step from there?
Mixing organic and inorganic compounds to create not only a food product, but also the container it’s supposed to be in. Plastics seem like the obvious choice, but how awesome would it be to have your fabricated steak and mashed potatoes served on a ceramic plate that was made as part of the dinner’s template.
And just as a note, we have have to stop calling these things 3D printers and start calling them something like fabricators or something, 3D printing sounds hokey to me.