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3-D Printing as a Replacement for Cooking? It's Coming.

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3-D printing has made waves in industries from fashion to space to biotech. It’s also poised to radically transform the way we think about and prepare food.

Image credit: Modernist Cuisine | Vimeo
 

That was the takeaway from a talk on the future of 3-D printing given Wednesday at the Tribeca Film Festival by 3D Systems’ chief entrepreneur officer Ping Fu, who announced that the company will be launching a consumer chocolate 3-D printer this year.

3-D printing technology is already being used by high-end chefs -- she shared a video of an elaborate 50 course meal prepared by the Modernist Cuisine’s Nathan Myhrvold that integrated 3-D printed elements -- but has yet to go mainstream.

Fu predicts that will soon change. “I believe the food printer will be the first one that is going to be adopted in everybody’s home,” she told the audience, painting a picture of a near-future where cooking a meal is redefined as designing it on a computer and then printing it out in the kitchen. “3-D printing will allow delicious nutritious food with great presentation to be delivered locally.”

Related: How a 3-D Printer Just Gave This Little Girl an Awesome, New Prosthetic Hand

It will also allow individuals to ‘cook’ for friends and family members remotely. When her daughter was growing up, Fu often had to work late at the office. She wanted to somehow still cook her dinner, a futile fantasy. At least, it was back then. “With a 3-D printer, this is totally possible,” she said.

We’re still a long ways from 3-D printing entire meals, and Fu understands that for many people, 3-D printing dinner may feel like cheating, replacing a messy, joyful social process with a cold and clinical one.

She urged the audience to keep an open mind. Replacing cooking with 3-D printing doesn’t necessarily make the process less social. Just instead of collaborating in the kitchen, families will “co-create” around the computer. 

Related: This Drivable Car Was 3-D Printed in 44 Hours