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Printable Food Is Almost Here: Neat or Nasty?

Tech 2011/09/15 15:00:00
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Remember the days when the idea of tossing a pill in the microwave and pulling out a three course meal was nothing but a sci-fi fantasy?

Well, it still is.

But you can print your food, if you're just looking for a futuristic way of cooking dinner. It's not quite as appetizing as the microwavable pill, but it's still something you might expect to read in a William Gibson novel.

Cornell Creative Machines Lab designed a "Solid Freeform Fabrication" device that can load syringes full of liquefied food and "print" meals out of it.

It isn't limited to soft foods, but the foods do have to be pureed first, which certainly limits the possibilities.

CCML's official website writes, "Using a novel combination of hydrocolloids (xanthium gum and gelatin) and flavor agents, texture and flavor can be independently tuned to produce printing materials that simulate a broad range of foods, with only a minimal number of materials."

The device has not been properly named yet, and is obviously not available to the public, but they do have plenty of pics.





Mm, just like grandma used to make.

CCML also plans to market the device to "fine dining" professionals, suggesting the machine's ability to shape, inject, and construct otherwise complicated geometric patterns or designs.

We can't wait to see what Anthony Bourdain does with one of these things.
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  • TheMadChameleon 2011/09/15 17:59:33
    Nasty
    TheMadChameleon
    +1
    More odd than anything. Not sure I'd try it.
  • Zion21 2011/09/15 17:36:37
    Neat
    Zion21
    +2
    I'm going with neat. Not appetizing though. neat appetizing
  • BryanNatalie 2011/09/15 17:28:34
  • carri byers 2011/09/15 17:23:35
    Nasty
    carri byers
    Soylent Green!
  • Gothic Roze 2011/09/15 17:23:16
    Nasty
    Gothic Roze
    It's a pretty cool invention, but I wouldn't eat anything that came out of it. Who really wants a liquefied steak. Not me
  • SonofSpermcube 2011/09/15 16:58:04 (edited)
    Nasty
    SonofSpermcube
    +1
    There are two possible uses for this, assuming it never gets to nano-scale resolution:

    Making complex 3D shapes in any food product that can be liquefied and almost instantly hardened...this could work with some types of candy or ice cream in a very cold environment, with a heated printing element and reservoir. Shapes that would be impossible to make with a mold (the examples in the image are emphatically not)...imagine a tree, in 3D, complete with leaves, made of chocolate.

    edit: That would require a support medium during the deposition process. Ice? The chocolate would remain if it were melted slowly. Hah...something like this would still be fabulously expensive, requiring complex temperature control. Cheaper than doing it by hand, though.

    Making complex internal patterns using multiple materials or colors, where the 3D structure of one material is supported by another. Imagine a log of fudge where there is a pattern inside printed in peanut butter, and every time you slice it, a different image appears in the cross-section.

    Otherwise, just use a mold or a die. The idea of applying this in a form resembling its present form, or any other current form of 3D printing, to making everyday food is dumb. For some specific novelty items it could be cool I guess.
  • chrisjay 2011/09/15 16:47:32
    Neat
    chrisjay
    +1
    even though I do prefer the food in a pill idea, this was one isn't too bad however I mine as well just make myself a three course meal slushy if I'm gonna do all that work anyway
  • Walks_on_Clouds 2011/09/15 16:44:35
    Nasty
    Walks_on_Clouds
    +1
    Texture is half of what you're eating, visual content is the other.

    People won't eat blue mashed potatoes. Same with this.
  • Bob DiN 2011/09/15 16:36:49
    Nasty
    Bob DiN
    Not appealing to me.
  • caitybug 2011/09/15 16:35:55
    Neat
    caitybug
    +1
    Sounds neat but I wouldnt be the first in line to try it
  • fuzzy Ken "In G*d We Trust" 2011/09/15 16:21:18
    Nasty
    fuzzy Ken "In G*d We Trust"
    +2
    An important part of the dining experience is texture.
    That's why people love the 'bark' on a slice of BBQ brisket, the buttery texture of foi-gras, the snap of a Nathan's hot dog, the crunch of popcorn...
    I could go on with the list but I'm getting hungry and it's lunch time.
    Gonna appreciate the texture of my cold meatloaf and cheddar in a pita.
  • John Storz 2011/09/15 16:14:25
    Neat
    John Storz
    +1
    AWESOME... I bet some forward thinking sushi chef puts one in a restaurant first.
  • SonofSp... John Storz 2011/09/15 17:01:02
    SonofSpermcube
    What use could this have in a sushi restaurant?
  • John Storz SonofSp... 2011/09/15 17:07:34
    John Storz
    +2
    Sushi is easily the most visually "artsy" of food, and Japanese chefs are more accepting of grinding stuff up and making it look cool. A sushi chef could make some awesome patterns with one of these, even if it was only as a functional garnish. They could make rolls with whole new flavor profiles and make it look like traditional sushi.
  • SonofSp... John Storz 2011/09/15 17:19:38
    SonofSpermcube
    Eh? What sushi restaurants have you been going to? I don't recall seeing anything ground up, ever.
  • John Storz SonofSp... 2011/09/15 17:24:22
    John Storz
    +1
    Really? Never watched them make an order of spicy tuna? Or chop up a scallop really fine? They might not be using an actual grinder but I've seen them chop stuff up pretty close to a grind. And Morimoto habitually pastes things to fit into specific serving plates. His toro dish is out of this world.
  • Liz.Mar... John Storz 2011/09/15 19:39:51
    Liz.Marie07
    I am a huge sushi fan and I definitely agree with you. Just saying.
  • Fenabarb 2011/09/15 16:12:23
    Neat
    Fenabarb
    +2
    but the food look nasty, which is what we taste with EYES.
    Will have it uses
  • OneLastWord 2011/09/15 16:10:55 (edited)
    Nasty
    OneLastWord
    +2
    Too many companies are screwing with your and my food, like Monsanto and other giant seed and food processing companies.

    Take printable food on a space flight to the next nebula and leave my food to be prepare the old fashion way. UUUUUUUUUuuuuKa
  • Diddley Squat 2011/09/15 16:06:51
    Neat
    Diddley Squat
    +1
    My answer is irrelevant. I am not gullible enough to believe this story.
  • PDenoli 2011/09/15 16:06:36
    Neat
    PDenoli
    +1
    Almost here? I've got some in my kitchen. The bakery down the road has been doing this for almost a decade. Welcome to "the future" circa 1990?

    This sounds like a commercial for a company that is just now trying to get into the market.
  • PDenoli PDenoli 2011/09/15 16:08:36
    PDenoli
    Before someone chimes in to "correct me"... Yes, I mean both food that's printable (can be the ink) as well as food that can be printed upon (can be the paper). Both. Not new. Perhaps they have some novel adaptation or step forward, but I don't see it mentioned here and I'm too lazy to research it. :)
  • SonofSp... PDenoli 2011/09/15 17:02:23
    SonofSpermcube
    Printing dyes onto a cake is not like printing in 3D.
  • PDenoli SonofSp... 2011/09/15 17:27:07
    PDenoli
    Wow. That comment is specifically why I bothered to clarify: "Yes, I mean both food that's printable (can be the ink) as well as... [the thing you replied to]".

    Once more - Food that can be deposited in 3D is not new. (Nor is the thing you replied to.) Perhaps 3D is new for this company, but it's not new for the world.
  • SonofSp... PDenoli 2011/09/15 17:38:46
    SonofSpermcube
    Okay, what are they depositing in 3D? And at what resolution?
  • PDenoli SonofSp... 2011/09/15 20:01:37
    PDenoli
    Icing (of course), fondant (of course), pureed meats, processed cheese, and processed vegetable pastes. Resolution??? 1080p! Heck if I know. Little cars and trucks. Looks like matchbox cars, HO scale trains. What resolution is a train?
  • PDenoli PDenoli 2011/09/15 20:11:07
    PDenoli
    That said, *mine* is strictly icing. I believe it was originally designed for plastic printing, but with some modification (to it as well as the icing) it does fairly well. I still have no idea how to characterize "resolution" though. Sputters are maybe 1/4 the size of a a bb pellet. Placement is analog so that aspect of resolution is infinite - but the particle size is not infinitely small. If that makes sense. Instead of being stuck to a grid, you can put your pencil anywhere, but the pencil tip isn't getting any smaller.

    Clearly mine is not as good as the shop down the road in terms of flexibility or "resolution", no matter how you measure it. I could probably do better than either tool by hand, but not if I want something "constructed" (e.g. something *inside* something else with a window so you can peek in).
  • SonofSp... PDenoli 2011/09/16 02:00:44 (edited)
    SonofSpermcube
    +1
    And how did they do it?

    Was it automated and precisely computer-controlled? Or was it done by hand? Was it done arbitrarily in layers, or was it done in molded pieces?

    Was it solely shapes which do not curve in on themselves, things that could be molded? Or was it more complex shapes that require support?
  • PDenoli SonofSp... 2011/09/16 17:00:13
    PDenoli
    Piezo-electric controls of microvalves pumping foodstuffs.

    It was automated and computer controlled. I don't have the knowledge to differentiate between "arbitrary layers" and "arbitrary pieces".

    Did you invest in the company? Can you get your money back? :)
  • SonofSp... PDenoli 2011/09/16 23:54:52
    SonofSpermcube
    It was automated and computer controlled...in a bakery...in the early 90s. Sorry, no. That's an extraordinary claim, you're gonna have to put up some extraordinary evidence.
  • PDenoli SonofSp... 2011/09/19 15:30:02
    PDenoli
    Why so tiresome, bro? I said in the future circa the 1990s'. That would be anytime after the 90s, not in the 90's. If I meant *in* the 90's, the word "future" would be removed.

    Here is an automated bakery in 1968:


    Gosh, this is both "automated and computer controlled"!! Computers have been used to automate food production, forming, shaping, and extrusion for half a century. Did you think computers were invented last year? Typically called "robots" in any production capacity, it's just a simply, single-purpose computer.

    In the late 1980's you could find many bake shops that used food coloring in place of ink in a dot-matrix printer:


    OMG! Computer controlled images?!?!?!? Yes... nearly 25 years of computer-printed images in bakeries.

    Here is an example of 3D Printing in 1992 - only point in showing this is that the core technology has been widely available for decades:


    Here is an "icing printer" from the mid 1990's that permitted printing in multiple layers. While not *pure* 3-D, neither is the example in this article - and this isn't far from it:


    I can't find a specific example of what my local bakery uses, but it's a higher-resolution version of the device, above. I hope I don't need to PROVE these things have different levels of precision?

    Moving on...

    Circa 2002, fond...




















    Why so tiresome, bro? I said in the future circa the 1990s'. That would be anytime after the 90s, not in the 90's. If I meant *in* the 90's, the word "future" would be removed.

    Here is an automated bakery in 1968:
    90s 90s meant 90s future removed automated bakery 1968

    Gosh, this is both "automated and computer controlled"!! Computers have been used to automate food production, forming, shaping, and extrusion for half a century. Did you think computers were invented last year? Typically called "robots" in any production capacity, it's just a simply, single-purpose computer.

    In the late 1980's you could find many bake shops that used food coloring in place of ink in a dot-matrix printer:
    late 1980s bake shops food coloring ink dot-matrix printer

    OMG! Computer controlled images?!?!?!? Yes... nearly 25 years of computer-printed images in bakeries.

    Here is an example of 3D Printing in 1992 - only point in showing this is that the core technology has been widely available for decades:
    computer-printed images bakeries 3d printing 1992 core technology decades

    Here is an "icing printer" from the mid 1990's that permitted printing in multiple layers. While not *pure* 3-D, neither is the example in this article - and this isn't far from it:
    mid 1990s permitted printing multiple layers pure 3-d article

    I can't find a specific example of what my local bakery uses, but it's a higher-resolution version of the device, above. I hope I don't need to PROVE these things have different levels of precision?

    Moving on...

    Circa 2002, fondant layering, the equivalent of the "icing printer" was available and could produce tidy 3D creations, while not technically a 3D technology:
    icing printer produce tidy 3d creations technically 3d technology

    But here is a homemade 3D confection machine circa 2004:
    technically 3d technology homemade 3d confection machine circa 2004

    3D Chocolate/ Fondant/ Confection Machine, 2006:
    machine circa 2004 3d chocolate fondant confection machine 2006

    Here is a homemade 3D confection machine circa 2007:
    confection machine 2006 homemade 3d confection machine circa 2007

    Freestanding Helix, 2008:
    homemade 3d confection machine circa 2007 freestanding helix 2008

    Here's a College project from last year:
    machine circa 2007 freestanding helix 2008 college project year

    Here's an automated 3D shuttle made from "cheeze" and scallops produced nearly a year ago:
    project year automated 3d shuttle cheeze scallops produced year

    Ah yes, but.... "Printable food is *almost* here!" Seriously?? Printable food has been around nearly my entire life. As this chronology of images shows, this is just some desperate marketing claims to make this product sound more impressive than it is. Yawn. If you want to keep debating this, you'll have to debate yourself. Already spent more time on this than it's worth. I can lead a mule to water....
    (more)
  • lawlerskates 2011/09/15 16:05:45
    Nasty
    lawlerskates
    +1
    No thanks! Not for me!
  • Loca girl n_n 2011/09/15 15:57:38
    Neat
    Loca girl n_n
    +2
    its neat that they have invented something that can do this, but the food it produces kinda looks nasty:p
  • StevenM 2011/09/15 15:56:16
    Neat
    StevenM
    +1
    i would think that this would work well with getting babies to eat solid food.
  • Stacie's Mirage 2011/09/15 15:54:23
    Neat
    Stacie's Mirage
    Very creative
  • ed Stacie'... 2011/09/15 19:16:16
    ed
    The food faxer, seems like good name, but its use is limited.

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