Like us on Facebook!


David Lissner
Publisher
 
SEARCH
for restaurants

Push-button food emerging from the science-fiction kitchen

The Digital Fabricator, a personal, three-dimensional “printer” for food.

The Digital Fabricator, a personal, three-dimensional “printer” for food.

You’ve heard about the paper food that the molecular gastronomists at the West Loop’s Moto print out … well, that may soon be old hat.

Fabricated three-dimensional sugar sculpture by Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories.

Fabricated three-dimensional sugar sculpture by Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories.

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology research group has designed the Digital Fabricator, a personal, three-dimensional “printer” for food. The device would layer ingredients from an array of food canisters into a mixer and then extrude them, with sub-millimeter precision, into a heating and cooling chamber.

“This fabrication process not only allows for the creation of flavors and textures that would be completely unimaginable through other cooking techniques,” the designers, Marcelo Coelho and Amit Zoran say, “but, through a touch-screen interface and web connectivity, also allows users to have ultimate control over the origin, quality, nutritional value and taste of every meal.”

A German design student, Nico Kläber, has showcased the Moleculaire, a 3-D molecular food printer. And Netherlands-based Philips Design has postulated its own version of a food printer, “which would essentially accept various edible ingredients and then combine and ‘print’ them in the desired shape and consistency, in much the same way as stereolithographic printers create 3-D representations of product concepts,” according to Clive van Heerden, senior director.

Philips Food Creation

Philips Food Creation

The MIT group also has concepts for a Robotic Chef with “an array of interchangeable manipulation devices, such as a drill bits, mineral and spices injection syringes, and a lower power laser diode, which can programmatically cut, cook and spice the food,” and a Virtuoso Mixer, “a machine composed of a three-layer rotating carousel that provides cooks with an efficient way to mix multiple ingredient variations and experiment with subtle differences in taste and composition.”

While these are only conceptual exercises, they’re not so far from reality, as experiments with real 3-D fabricators by the French Culinary Institute and Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories show.