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Natural Machines bringing 3D printing into your kitchen with Foodini

James
Written by James

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From furniture to guns to replacement kidneys, 3D printing is revolutionising the manufacturing industry. Food is the next frontier. Just ask NASA, who this summer announced $125,000 of funding for a study of 3D-printed cuisine for astronauts. Meanwhile in Silicon Valley, US start-up Modern Meadow are developing a 3D bioprinter to create artificial meat.

But why look into the distant future and outer space, when there is a 3D printing company closer to home looking to bring the technology into your home? Or more specifically, into your kitchen. Barcelona start-up Natural Machines, founded in May 2012 and based in the Glòries Incubator in the Barcelona Activa center, are developing a “‘new generation kitchen appliance”: a 3D food printer that can create gastronomic delights at the flick of a switch. This magic piece of kit is known as the Foodini.

As with all 3D printing technology, the Foodini uses computer software to create objects in pre-defined shapes from the chosen material. 3D printing builds from the bottom-up, layer-by-layer, meaning layered food is most compatible with the Foodini. It doesn’t actually cook the food, but its built-in heater keeps the concoction warm. As co-founder Lynette Kucsma explains:

“Its function is more like food assembly, so it’s important to not confuse what it does with actual cooking.”

A 3D chocolate printer, known as the Choc Creator, is already commercially available. Chocolate is well-suited to the fused deposition modelling (FDM) technology used in 3D printing, due to its texture and low melting point. Natural Machines are taking the next step into savoury foods. By incorporating six capsules for ingredients into its design, the Foodini can create more elaborate dishes. Users add the ingredients and enter their recipe onto a touch-screen interface. The device does the rest. An integrated internet compatibility allows chefs to then share their creations online.

Natural Machines aim to dispel the perception of 3D-printed cuisine as disconcertingly artificial by emphasising a focus on fresh and healthy food. They have also developed ingredients for different dietary requirements, from diabetics to vegans. Another of the founders of the company, Emilio Senúvelda elaborates:

‘It sounds like pre-processed foods, a lot of conservatives and so on, but we are allowing the consumers, our customers, to have their own foods prepared by them or by speciality stores so they can be sure that this is fresh food, this is fresh ingredients, they have no additives on top of the food, they know what they are going to eat.’

By designing a device specifically for food and with the appearance of a regular kitchen appliance Natural Machines are working to ensure they adhere to the health and safety standards required by food regulatory agencies in order for the product to be granted ‘food grade’ status They even have ambitions to see the Foodini in restaurants, where it could reduce the time required of chefs to perform their more menial kitchen tasks. If this is the beginning of the end for the professional chef, at least they won’t be leaving on an empty stomach.

Natural Machines hope to launch the Foodini in the middle of next year. It is expected to retail at approximately €1,000.

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James

James

James is a passionate writer in love with the beautiful city of Barcelona.

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