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Food 3D printing: how does it work?

Nowadays, 3D printers are capable of 3D printing almost anything – even food! Food 3D printing is becoming more and more popular for a variety of applications. How do food 3D printers work though? Who can benefit from 3D printing food?

Food 3D printing: 3D printed food art by Marijn Roovers.

3D printed food art by Marijn Roovers.

Food 3D printing: how it works

Food 3D printing is actually pretty simple. Users fill up the food 3D printer’s syringe-like container, which then pushes the food out at a steady rate to form layers. However, as its name suggests, this paste extrusion technology only tolerates paste-type ingredients.

One may believe that this is quite limiting when it comes to recipe possibilities, but when you think about it, almost anything can be made into a paste! The most common ingredients are chocolate, pancake batter and liquid sugar pastes, but it is also possible to 3D print with:

  • Mashed potatoes
  • Pasta, wheats and grains
  • Cookie dough
  • Dairy products
  • And more!

Of course, the ingredients must have at least some density and consistency to withstand different layers. For example, if you 3D print layers of liquid yogurt on top of one another, the result will probably just be a messy blob. Molten chocolate, however, can be 3D printed because it solidifies as it cools down.

Who is edible 3D printing for?

Food 3D printing suits just about anyone, from hobbyists to food artists, and from the military to astronauts. Indeed, this technology allows not only to customize the appearance of different meals, but also to tailor them to specific nutritional needs.

Food 3D printer prices are still relatively high though, so food 3D printing users are mostly professional at the moment.

It can be hard to dig up relevant information about 3D printed food. That’s why, in our food 3D printer article, we try to provide a comprehensive overview of:

  • Food 3D printers available on the market
  • Applications for food 3D printing
  • Other food 3D printing solutions (food extruders, coffee 3D printing, and more)

Read the full article for more information on the future of cooking!

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About this author

Ludivine Cherdo

Ludivine is in charge of Aniwaa's content strategy and works towards providing useful, informative content, including detailed guides based on her deep knowledge of the additive manufacturing scene. She also reviews 3D printers and stays on top of the latest industry news and trends. After growing up in the US and living in Spain, Chile, and Cambodia, Ludivine is now based in France.