May 6, 2016 | By Tess

It is hardly a surprise that 3D printed foods are popping up at more and more gastronomic festivals from all over the world, as now there are even conferences dedicated solely to additively manufactured food, such as the Dutch 3D Food Printing Conference, which took place last month. Now, with Eat Cambridge, a local food and drink festival in the UK, starting this week, more 3D printed edibles will be showcased as local design studio and innovation lab Dovetailed will be present with their Nufood 3D food printer.

The Nufood 3D food printer, which could feasibly be one of the more marketable food 3D printers due to its small size, is essentially capable of creating bespoke edible structures out of flavorful liquids. For instance, it could create a star shape out of liquid lemon droplets, each encased in a thin membrane, for you to garnish a cocktail with, or could even create a banana shape out of, say, orange juice droplets.

The idea for the compact food 3D printer came from Lithuanian born Vaiva Kalnikaitė, who is also the founder of Dovetailed. As she explains, her inspiration began a few years ago when her team was partaking in a food centered hackathon, in which they invited designers and tech experts as well as people from the gastronomical world to discover new ways technology could be used with food. In the end, idea that struck her most from the hackathon was the development of 3D printed food.

Kalnikaitė explains to Cambridge News, "We set aside two months to see if we could invent a technique which allows us to create things from liquids, and we built a prototype - which looked huge! - and used real raspberry juice to reconstruct a raspberry. But then we started thinking well, if you see something that's in a shape of a raspberry, maybe it could be made from something else, like orange juice…?"

After a number of prototypes, the Nufood 3D food printer is now much smaller, and can 3D print small food items in under a few minutes. While, as Kalnikaitė explains, the 3D food printer won’t be sufficient to replace entire meals, it is meant to be used creatively, to decorate or to garnish any dish, from appetizers, to entrées, to desserts, and even to drinks. The beauty of the machine comes not only from its pleasing food shapes and designs, but also from the ability to play with and customize flavours. “The real power of this machine is creating something that doesn’t exist in nature: we can create interesting combinations of things, like strawberries with a strip of cream running through it,” says Kalnikaitė.

Image: Cambridge News

The Dovetailed founder also sees the technology as a way to more efficiently preserve fruit and vegetables, as one could stock up on in season fruit, juice and freeze extras and recreate them in 3D using the 3D food printer. This could help cut back on people’s carbon footprints by encouraging people to buy locally and preserve year round rather than buy imported produce.

With Eat Cambridge launching imminently, Dovetailed and their 3D food printer will be present and will be serving a five-course meal for 17 lucky foodies, who will get to eat deliciously prepared meals, each incorporating a 3D printed element. Alfy Fowler, a designer at Dovetailed, will be the one cooking the meals. "People are really excited," says Kalnikaitė. "They find it hard to believe, and they really want to see [the 3D food printer] working. Every time we demo it, we always have a queue of people waiting to try a flavour bomb.”

For those of you waiting to purchase your own Nufood 3D printer, you may be in luck, as Dovetailed will be launching a crowdfunding campaign for the compact, kitchen-friendly 3D food printer this summer. Through the campaign, the design studio is planning on taking pre-orders for the food 3D printer in the price range of £200 to £500 ($290 to $725).

Dovetailed is currently working on a number of other innovative projects, including a shopping cart handle equipped with a barcode reader that lets you shop more ecologically and more healthily, a fedora with a 3D printed feather which alerts you whenever you are in proximity to a CCTV camera, a camera equipped carton that broadcasts your fridge to your neighbours (to encourage sharing food and reducing waste), and coffee cups that can talk to each other to increase sociability at cafés.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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