Sep 27, 2015 | By Benedict

We’re used to seeing 3D printers build objects out of plastics and metals, but we hear less about the 3D printing of food. Although several 3D printers, such as the recently developed and reported-upon Dobot desktop robotic arm, have been made to utilise a food-based filament, plastics and metals still rule the additive manufacturing roost. Luckily for those hungry to see more 3D printing technology in the kitchen, some keen and talented foodies have a new machine at the ready. Nufood are a team of designers, scientists, engineers and makers who “love inventing new technologies that can enhance the dining experience”, and they have created a unique food 3D printer.

The Nufood Robot 3D food printer, which has been developed by British firm Dovetailed, uses 3D printing technology to allow users to customise the colour, taste, texture, shape and nutritional content of their food. The edible products 3D printed by the machine are small liquid capsules which the designers have dubbed “flavour bombs”. The flavour bombs contain only natural ingredients, which can be used to imitate existing fruits and foods, or combined to create new tastes.

The various combinations of ingredients and their resulting flavours may come as a surprise to some. One might, for example, think that raspberry juice would be sufficient to reproduce the flavour of a raspberry, but the Nufood team have found that raspberry juice mixed with balsamic vinegar produces the most authentic tasting raspberry flavour bomb. In addition to the limitless exciting flavour possibilities, the Nufood Robot 3D printer also allows creative chefs to fully design the shape of their edible product. The 3D printer’s accompanying app allows users to design the shape of the food, which is then recreated by the 3D printer by dropping the small liquid capsules into a water-based liquid. Nufood intend not only to market a kitchen appliance, but to create a community in which users can share their flavours and creations with others via the dedicated app.

"Nufood is a unique new kitchen appliance that allows the creation of a new dining experience through 3D printing," Robert Curtis, lead developer of the Nufood Robot 3D Printer, explained to IBTimes UK. "There is the potential for everyday use. We envision a time when people can create whatever they want on demand. Like the range of flavours, the use case possibilities are vast. It can be used to create new condiments, food toppings, or even within cocktails. And you'll be surprised what flavours work together, like the combination of raspberry flavour bombs with chili flavour bombs.”

Some example creations. Images from Nufood.

The company hope that consumers will be able to buy the appliance for around the same price as a high-end kitchen espresso machine. While 3D printers for food already exist, such as the aforementioned Dobot, Curtis cites two crucial differences that distinguish the Nufood Robot 3D Printer from its current competition:

"Firstly, a lot of competitors liquidise the food and extrude in a shape," Curtis said. "We go beyond this by providing exciting new possibilities in cuisine, with new textures, flavours and experiences. Secondly, competitors tend to retrofit existing 3D printers to make them usable for food. As it's built specifically for this purpose, the Nufood printer is cleaner and more hygienic. We want it to be a desirable product that people want to have on show in their kitchen - not stashed away in a workshop somewhere.”

Nufood have a pending international patent for their creation. The process of their printer differs from others as it allows 3D structures to be built from liquid which keep their form until you bite into them and release their flavours.

Although the Nufood Robot 3D Printer is still in the prototyping stage and therefore a while away from being commercially available, Dovetailed is currently preparing for a crowdfunding campaign that it hopes will lead to a significant production run next year. Watch this space for updates.



Posted in 3D Printers



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