As further proof that you can now 3D-print anything, a company called Natural Machines has introduced a 3D printer for food.

The "Foodini," as it's called, isn't too different from a regular 3D printer, but instead of printing with plastics, it deploys edible ingredients squeezed out of stainless steel capsules: "It's the same technology," says Lynette Kucsma, co-founder of Natural Machines, "but with plastics there's just one melting point, whereas with food it's different temperatures, consistencies and textures. Also, gravity works a little bit against us, as food doesn't hold the shape as well as plastic."

At the Web Summit technology conference in Dublin, the Barcelona-based startup is showing off the machine, which it says is the only one of its kind capable of printing a wide range of dishes, from sweet to savoury.

"In essence, this is a mini food manufacturing plant shrunk down to the size of an oven," Kucsma said, pointing out that at least in the initial stage the printer will be targeted mostly at professional kitchen users, with a consumer version to follow, at a projected retail price of around $1,000.

In principle, the Foodini sounds like the ultimate laziness aid: press a button to print your ravioli. But Natural Machines is quick to point out that it's designed to take care only of the difficult and time-consuming parts of food preparation that discourage people from cooking at home, and that it promotes healthy eating by requiring fresh ingredients prepared before printing.

Nevertheless, the company is working with major food manufacturers to create pre-packaged plastic capsules that can just be loaded into the machine to make food, even though they assure these will be free of preservatives, with a shelf life limited to five days.

The printing process is slow, but faster than regular 3D printing. Other than being capable of creating complex designs, such as very detailed cake decorations or food arranged in unusual shapes, the Foodini can be useful for recipes that require precision and dexterity, like homemade pizza or filled pasta.

Currently, the device only prints the food, which must be then cooked as usual. But a future model will also cook the preparation and produce it ready to eat.

The idea also comes with a social element too. "There's a touchscreen on the front that connects to a recipe site in the cloud, so it's an internet-of-things, connected kitchen appliance," said Kucsma. Users will also be able to control the device remotely using a smartphone, and share their recipes with the community.

最近一家名叫“自然机器”(Natural Machines)的公司称他们已有可以打印食物的3D打印机。这似乎是要进一步证明现在3D打印可以用于任何领域。

这台名叫“Foodini”的机器和其它普通的3D打印机差别不大,但是它的原料并不是塑料,而是将食材捣成泥状装进干净的钢制胶囊盒里,机器可以通过操作胶囊盒完成食物的打印。自然机器公司的创建人之一利奈特·库斯马(Lynette Kucsma)表示“Foodini使用的技术跟其它3D打印机一样。不同的是,打印塑料的机器只有一个熔点,而打印食物的机器需要设置不同的熔点来适应不同的温度、粘稠度和食物材质。而且重力也是一个很棘手的问题,因为泥状食物不像塑料那样,它会因重力而变形。”








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