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3D printing is now turning to food. There is a growing number of food printing projects being carried out by professionals, who can now make pizzas or intricately-shaped pancakes in just a few minutes.

Do away with recipes and spend less time preparing your meals by printing them. Though it is currently only used in industry, 3D printing a dish has become a reality in both France and abroad.

In order to print food in 3D, all you have to do is replace the plastic materials that are usually used to make objects with edible materials such as eggs, sugar, salt, flour and even chocolate. Once the recipe has been programmed and the ingredients have been loaded, a computer programme sends the device the necessary information to print the food, layer upon layer. What could be simpler?

However, 3D printing is not available in all kitchens. The cost of the printers and raw materials are huge obstacles in the quest to popularise this culinary art, reports French website Objet Connecté. This is why food printing experiments are only being carried out in professional kitchens…for now.


Pancakes printed in 3D


In France, the Centre Culinaire Contemporain de Rennes (France) uses 3D printing technology to combine taste and culinary design. Their research involves pancakes, one of the region's most emblematic culinary creations. The two chefs carrying out this research are trying to develop a batter whose composition allows them to create products in attractive shapes.



The software, named "Pancake Painter", can make pancakes following different patterns. They have, for example, managed to create a pancake in the shape of the Eiffel Tower. Since the taste must be as good as the shape, the challenge is to preserve the taste of the traditional recipe as closely as possible. "Our aim is for it to be used professionally. Some food-processing companies have shown an interest but they want tailor-made machines adapted to suit their product," Sophie Briand, the centre's digital manager, explained to 20 Minutes.


3D pizzas financed by NASA


Another 3D printing project focuses on a dish consumed all over the world: pizza. According to its developers, the "BeeHex" printer can print a pizza in just 5 minutes, reports Objet Connecté. The project is monitored by NASA, who gave it a $125,000 grant. There is an idea behind the American space agency's generosity: if it could take a 3D printer into space, it could offer its astronauts tastier meals during their missions.

To use the "BeeHex", the user places their order via an application. They have a choice of base, ingredients, cheese and sauce. The programme then sends the instructions to the printer, which makes the pizza, layer by layer. Though the machine can only currently print a pizza, other dishes could follow and pave the way for à la carte menus in space, made according to what the astronauts fancy. The pizza printer is being tested in venues hosting cultural and sporting events.



Consumers are (almost) ready


But, can 3D foods win over the palates of the larger population? As long as food-processing companies reproduce well-known recipes and do not try to print something the public does not recognise, then people are prepared to eat 3D printed dishes, says a study by the Centre for Creative and Cultural Research at the University of Canberra in Australia.

"Our findings suggest that those who promote the concept of fabricating food with 3D printers need to come to terms with these cultural meanings and dilemmas when they are seeking to naturalise what is perceived to be a very 'unnatural' way of producing edible matter," highlight the people behind the study.


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