London - It’s the whizzy invention scientists say can conjure up anything from chess pieces and toy cars to bones, guns and guitars.
Now researchers working on the 3D printer have set their sights on revolutionising home cooking – with the launch of the first food printer.
The so-called Foodini, which they say combines “technology, food, art and design”, can be used to make anything from chocolate fingers to ravioli.
The machine is expected to go on sale priced at £835 (about R13 400) in mid-2014, and needs to be loaded with capsules filled with fresh ingredients. Users can then select a design on the machine’s control panel and the food is “printed” as the different ingredients are built up in layers.
Natural Machines, the company behind the idea, have suggested that parents could use the device to design meals in the shape of animals or cartoon characters – or surprise a loved one by customising a message that could be printed on top of a cake.
Firm co-founder Lynette Kucsma, a former PR manager for Microsoft, revealed that they are hoping to make family homes and restaurants their top market. She said: “Retail food stores have shown an interest. They can both print food in-store to sell to consumers as well as sell pre-filled food capsules for consumers to take home to use in their machines.
“It could be an option to buy pre-filled capsules, put them in the machine and print.”
However a spokesperson for the Barcelona-based company pointed out that the Foodini still has several limitations.
He said: “Foodini does not automate all your cooking, nor does it cook food. If necessary, it can keep food warm as it works as it contains a heating element.”
He added: “Making your own food and knowing all of the ingredients is obviously better.
“But it does require more time from you in the kitchen versus opening a bag or a box of something that is processed, frozen or already prepared.
“Foodini can design food into different shapes, make a quiche in the shape of a dinosaur, create pictures with sauces that kids can fill in with veggies or write messages on pieces of toast for breakfast.
“You could also make food more visually appealing by adding an intricate topping to a cupcake. Who says food always has to be a serious affair?” - Daily Mail