A pizza made with the Foodini 3D printer. Credit Natural Machines
Food-based 3D printers have been around for a few years now. Who could forget, for example, the first commercial chocolate 3D printer, which arrived back in 2011?
The folks at Barcelona-based 3D printing startup Natural Machines weren't satisfied with merely chocolate. They wanted to 3D print a more balanced meal — say, a pizza.
Natural Machines' printer, the Foodini, uses the same techniques to arrange food that a 3D printer uses to make its creations. The food substance comes out of an extruder, or nozzle, that is attached to a motor. The nozzle extrudes food in a preprogrammed pattern, ensuring that pizzas, burgers, ravioli and other foods are even and perfectly formed.
The Foodini also serves as a high-tech decorating machine. The video shows how the device can be used to decorate cakes and other non-printed foods by extruding icing in a predesigned pattern.
"We're looking to go way beyond just chocolate … we're looking for everyday foods that you would eat," Natural Machines co-founder Lynete Kucsma told BBC News in a video interview.
The video shows how the Foodini can be used to make homemade ravioli without the time-consuming process of hand-wrapping the filling. Fill the printer's nozzle with pre-prepared pasta dough, send the printer the design you wish to use, and start it up.
However, because the printer can only print in one material at a time, you'll have to switch out the dough for cheese or another filling of your choice in order to continue the print.
And don't expect the Foodini to pop out fully cooked food. Although the printer's tray is heated to keep food fresh and pliable, it's not an oven, so maker/bakers will have to move their creations to an oven before the printings are ready to eat.
Natural Machines says the Foodini is currently in prototype; the device has a lot of exposed wires and looks more like what you'd find on an engineer's desk than on your average kitchen counter.
The finished product, which looks a bit like a miniature oven, is expected to go on sale this spring for 1,000 euro, or almost $1,400.