Imagine you’re in a bare kitchen. All that’s in it is a 3D food printer. That’s right, no stove, no microwave, no oven, nothing.
Dinner time comes and lets say you fancy a burger. And not just any burger, you want that awesome pork and cheese burger you had at your favorite hawker stall downtown. You download the digital recipe from the internet, load it up onto your 3D printer, and then hit print. From the base ingredients of protein, carbohydrate, fibre and other trace elements, your 3D printer then prints out the exact same burger from scratch.
This could very well be our future.
Earlier last week, Natural Machines, a startup out of Barcelona, has developed a prototype 3D printer called Foodini that can pump out decent, edible-looking pizza just like a normal 3D printer pumps out custom-made lightswitch covers and drain plugs.
There are other people committed to make 3D food printing work: NASA has enlisted the help of mechanical engineer Anjan Contractor at Austin, Texas-based Systems and Materials Research in the form of $125,000 to build a 3D printer that makes pizzas.
But that will take some time. The truth is, the 3D food printers that are available today are only capable of very simple stuff, for example making fantastical shapes out of chocolate, but the general consensus is that sooner or later its going to happen. 3D printers have actually been around for decades, but are recently gaining a lot of hype and entering a broader market.
Nowadays, you can buy your own personal 3D printer on the internet for as low as US$200. An increasing number of people are buying them to print stuff for their home. These printers won’t print food, but they can come in handy when you need an expensive spare part for your household appliances. Or a chip for your computer. You could even print a customized toy for your children or a special ornament for your Christmas tree. With their versatility, personal 3D printers will quite possibly become a necessary household item over the next 10 years. And even if you don’t have one, you could just as easily visit the nearby shops (think photocopying shops) and print what you need.
Here’s how 3D printer works:
All you need is a design/blueprint/recipe in digital format. If you have a degree in engineering and you’re good with CAD this is a big plus. Otherwise you can visit sites like Thingiverse for access to thousands of free designs, or download software like SketchUp, a easy user friendly platform for creating 3D models.
And that’s not all. From bioprinters that can print organs and bones tailored specifically to suit a certain individual, and enormous architectural 3D printers that can print a whole house for you in less than a day, the 3D printer will change the world as we know it, in more ways than you can imagine.