Dinner in 3D
We’re all accustomed to having appliances on our kitchen counters, from toasters and blenders to coffee makers and microwaves. If Mechanical Engineering Professor Hod Lipson has his way, we’ll soon need to make room for one more—a 3D food printer that could revolutionize the way we think about food and prepare it.
Over the past year, Lipson and his students have been developing a 3D food printer that can fabricate edible items through computer-guided software and the actual cooking of edible pastes, gels, powders, and liquid ingredients—all in a prototype that looks like an elegant coffee machine. The printer is the result of a design project devised by Lipson and his students, led by Drim Stokhuijzen, an industrial design graduate student visiting from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and Jerson Mezquita, an undergraduate student visiting from SUNY Maritime who is now a research associate in Lipson’s Creative Machines Lab (CML).
“Food printers are not meant to replace conventional cooking—they won’t solve all of our nutritional needs, nor cook everything we should eat,” says Lipson, a pioneering roboticist who works in the areas of artificial intelligence and digital manufacturing. “But they will produce an infinite variety of customized fresh, nutritional foods on demand, transforming digital recipes and basic ingredients supplied in frozen cartridges into healthy dishes that can supplement our daily intake. I think this is the missing link that will bring the benefits of personalized data-driven health to our kitchen tables—it’s the ‘killer app’ of 3D printing.”