Will the 3D Food Printer Become Today’s Microwave?

Imagine the scene: it’s breakfast time in the home of the future. Dad has just finished 3D printing a customised breakfast for his son, complete with lego-shaped hash browns and eggs that resemble the faces of his favourite cartoon characters. Using the 3D scanner that is a staple app nowadays Mum scans her 3D printed breakfast, working out how many calories is in it. The same scene is occurring in the neighbours house next door. But all that is a bit too far-fetched or is it?

3D printed food was initially used by organisations like NASA and the army. Two main food qualities that were desirable for these organisations were: nutritional stability and variety. A 3D food printer could provide both!

So would 3D printing of the future be a luxury dining experience? Or would it be a favoured mode of eating by many people as 3D printers become less costly and more accessible?

Digital gastronomy would be at the heart of this new type of eating. For example, researchers have concocted recipes based on cuisine type, dietary restrictions and the number of calories we want to consume. We’d never have to watch our portions so closely again! We’ll have created the perfect meals and the perfect lifestyle of the future!

But if all this went ahead, wouldn’t we be missing something?

Something human beings have been doing since the dawn of time…

No machine can replace the sensual, therapeutic and creative benefits that cooking by hand can bring.

I know that not everyone feels this way and life can get very busy. But so often cooking is enjoyable because we get to experiment with colours and herbs, transforming a few simple ingredients into a wholesome, delicious meal.

Why else do we appreciate food? Because we know that someone has toiled to prepare our meal for us. That’s why people deliver such hearty compliments to the chef and, hopefully, compliments to the cooks in their families too!

But maybe designing our own digital recipes will reap similar benefits. Maybe digital recipe design would be a new way to get children more involved in cooking and eating healthily. Maybe it would pave the way for a whole new sustainable way of eating.

We only have to look at various 3D conferences to know that 3D food printing is considered much more than a fad. The fact that Sainsburys and IBM will be in attendance demonstrates how the potential customer reach could be even more than anticipated.

What do we have to compare to? Well – the microwave. Initially, the microwave wasn't commonly used in homes. It was expensive and limited to use in restaurants and institutions. But, after some years, the price dropped and it became more widely accessible.

What do you think folks? Will the 3D food printer eventually have a staple role in our homes like the microwave?