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Cornell lab prints food, says digital cuisine could change restaurants

September 11, 2011 |  9:00 am

091009 French Culinary Institute 095 E11 There are printers that can spit out 3-D model cars and others that can make paper solar panels. Next up: technology that can print food for restaurants and homes.

Engineers envision printed breakfasts synced with alarm clocks and gourmet spreads downloaded from high-end restaurants but served at the dinner table. Printers could to linked to digital food logs and programmed to churn out meals that fill in the day’s nutritional blanks.

Sound like "The Jetsons"? Printer-produced gastronomy is closer than you think.

Cornell Creative Machines Lab, featured recently in Fast Company, has a printer that can create a scallop nugget shaped like a miniature space shuttle. The machine has made cakes that, when sliced into, reveal embedded messages.

Using edible inks such as liquid or juiced meats, the printer uses electronic blueprints and technology that can create new food textures.

Known as “solid freeform fabrication,” Cornell engineers say it’s the next step in culinary innovation -– a space that has recently seen gelatin spheres with liquid centers, hot fluid in flash-frozen shells and meats dished out through syringes.

The ability to print food could have significant ramifications for chefs and industrial food producers alike, according to scientists. And the average American, who spends more than 30 minutes a day preparing meals, could save more than 150 hours each year using a commercial version of the machine.

Watch the printer making icing and cookie dough below:

 

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-- Tiffany Hsu

twitter.com/tiffhsulatimes

Photo: A space shuttle scallop nugget, fresh from a food printer. Credit: Cornell Creative Machines Lab

Video: The Fab@Home project, launched by Cornell scientists, aims to promote 3-D printing in the home

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