Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Food Printing

Whenever I think about the food of the future, I think about Star Trek (I know, I know... I'm a nerd in a sorority girl shell) and how in the show their food is created by a machine that assembles the molecular composition of whatever food you order right in front of you. Needless to say like my hover car and robot maid, such things are still far in the future, but an interesting new way to prepare food is channeling this type of future food.

Food printing is a new technology that follows a recipe all on its own to come up with different meals, all you need to input are the ingredients. The technology is being developed by a team of researchers at Cornell University's Computations Synthesis Lab as part of the Fab@home project. The 3D food printer only requires users to put in the ingredients and program the recipe, and the machine will do the rest. It can even be adjusted for picky eaters -- making food moister or crispier, depending on the tastes of the consumer.

The technology would be especially beneficial for people won't don't either know how to cook or who don't have the time to prepare big meals. It could also cut down on costs by limiting production waste during food preparation.

I'm pretty amazed by the creativity that researchers have shown in utilizing printing technology for new applications. In addition to 3D food assembly, printers can also be used for 3D cell culture. I wrote and article about 3D cell printers for BioTechniques last year, and I was amazed by the machines' capabilities.

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