3-D Food Printers: A Delicious Solution

“Imports by airplane have a substantial impact on global warming pollution. In 2005, the import of fruits, nuts, and vegetables into California by airplane released more than 70,000 tons of CO2, which is equivalent to more than 12,000 cars on the road.” according to Food Hub. Rather than reducing the impacts of food transportation, with 3-D printing we could eliminate them.

“Imagine being able to essentially ‘grow’, ‘cook’ or prepare foods without the negative industrial impact – everything from fertilizers to saute pans and even packaging,” says Homaro Cantu, chef and owner of the Moto Restaurant in Chicago, Illinois, who has printed sushi using an ink jet printer. “You can imagine a 3D printer making homemade apple pie without the need for farming the apples, fertilizing, transporting, refrigerating, packaging, fabricating, cooking, serving and the need for all of the materials in these processes like cars, trucks, pans, coolers, etc,” he adds.

Significant progress has already been made on printers that would dramatically reduce the environmental impact of the food industry. There has already been success in printing meats, sushi, and cookies.

Where does Elon Musk come in? The current printers are not enough. They are limited in ingredient selection, they also are struggling to get the printers to accommodate for different cooking types. The printers are not ready for the public yet. Elon Musk would be able to expand the product, making it accessible for at-home use, and capable of cooking full recipes. Only then will the invention be capable of having an impact.

Are 3-D food printers the wave of the future?

Featured Image Courtesy of Incredible Things (which reports that NASA is funding a project that will make 3-D printed pizzas possible. NASA hopes to address World Hunger with their discoveries.)


6 thoughts on “3-D Food Printers: A Delicious Solution”

  1. 3D printing is awesome but also baffling. Where woud they create the ingredient-like materials the printers use to produce the food? Would we still need to grow food, but then pulverize it into a substance useable by the printer? And who is making all these printers? I imagine making the entire 3D printing process more environmentally sustainable and worthwhile than the current process is a big challenge. Good luck to Mr. Musk!


  2. I agree that 3D printing is fascinating! It does confuse me though. Would the food still provide all the necessary nutrients that we usually get from food? How big would the printers be? I assume the printers cost a lot, so would they only be affordable to high income families? I think there are a lot of benefits that could come from this invention, but because it is such a new development, it poses a lot of questions about its long-term value.


  3. One of the best sci fi books ever, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, written in the early 1980s, describes the tragedy when Arthur, the last Earthling left (an Englishman) tries to get an obstinate food replicator, like your #D printer, to make him a cup of tea. It can never get it right! The book is very funny.

    He had found a Nutri-Matic machine which had provided him with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea. The way it functioned was very interesting. When the Drink button was pressed it made an instant but highly detailed examination of the subject’s taste buds, a spectroscopic examination of the subject’s metabolism and then sent tiny experimental signals down the neural pathways to the taste centers of the subject’s brain to see what was likely to go down well. However, no one knew quite why it did this because it invariably delivered a cupful of liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.


  4. I agree with Megan here…I can understand a 3D printer in one’s house to be used to make simple everyday products, but food? Also wouldn’t the creation of these high-tech intricate printers cause more environmental harm?


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