Might we one day have a 3D printer in each home instead of a microwave? It appears that concept may not be as futuristic as once initially thought. From chocolate to pancakes, we’ve already begun to see the emergence of 3D food printers like the Foodini, Candy, and ChefJet. Though it may not be mainstream yet, the idea of having your very own Star Trek replicator is just one of the many 3D printing applications that’s coming closer to fruition, inching its way into our everyday lives and homes.
Designed by four undergraduate students from the Imperial College in London, F3D (pronounced “fed”) is the latest food printing research project that has set out to revolutionize the way we prepare our food. According to 3DPrintingIndustry.com, the Makers modified existing RepRap 3D printing technology to create a food printer capable of 3D printing and cooking a complete dish. Pretty soon everyone can become a chef!
In order to derive at their final project, the group combined the best aspects of various paste extrusion ideas, including Richard “RichRap” Horne’s Universal Paste Extruder, Hod Lipson’s Fab@Home paste extrusion system, and Thingiverse user keesj’s Simple Paste Extrude. Finally, to cook the food, F3D relied on the tried-and-true technique of Hasbro’s Easy-Bake Ovens using a halogen oven, Michael Molitch-Hou explained.
Having chosen to produce a machine with at least three extruders, the students needed to explore various hardware options capable of controlling the printer. They decided upon the Arduino Due (SAM3X8E) based DUET and DUEX4 bundle. As a result, the students were able to develop an Atmel powered machine that was capable of 3D printing three different ingredients with three extruders and cooking the entire dish with the halogen oven all for just £1,145.19 (just shy of $2,000).
“3D printing food in the home may permit the individual tailoring of meals to dietary requirements, personal tastes and nutritional needs. The rehydration and printing of long- shelf-life, powdered food – essentially eliminating food spoilage – could provide the tools to tackle hunger in the third world. Furthermore, increasing global populations could lead to an increased demand for food. Sustainable, nutritious, alternative foodstuffs such as high protein insect pastes may be the solution to this increased demand, but it may only be by incorporating these into familiar dishes that their perception is changed and their widespread acceptance is seen. In the era of the high-tech home, and in a society where floor space is fast becoming a premium, it is even feasible to see food printers becoming a low cost, low space solution to nutritional needs,” the Makers explained in their recent study.
Forget about that pizza boy’s “30 minutes or less” guarantee, F3D proved its potential by 3D printing an entire pizza – dough, sauce, cheese and all – in under 20 minutes. Beat that Domino’s! Though still in its prototype phase, this student-designed project is impressive, nonetheless. F3D’s creators have published their entire design and build process online, so it’s only a matter of time before we see them throughout college dorms across America!
As with any technological advance, there will always be a period of uncertainty; however, these Atmel based devices continue to showcase the Maker Movement’s unlimited potential as well as the imaginative creations that these Makers will produce in the coming years.