The value of 3d printing food and meals is derived from the benefit of personalized nutrition, according to Columbia University professor Hod Lipson.
" I think this is the missing link that will bring the benefits of personalised data-driven health to our kitchen tables – it is the ‘killer app’ of 3D printing,” he told the Financial Express, referring to 3d printers that created customized meals.
Entire restaurants have been created utilizing the process of 3d printing food, however Lipson is looking towards a time when gels, powders, liquid ingredients and pastes can all be used to make just about any food type one can imagine, and meals can be determined in part by each person's needs for certain nutrients.
“Food printers are not meant to replace conventional cooking – they will not solve all of our nutritional needs, nor cook everything we should eat,” Lipson says. “But they will produce an infinite variety of customised fresh, nutritional foods on demand, transforming digital recipes and basic ingredients supplied in frozen cartridges into healthy dishes that can supplement our daily intake."
The US Army has been looking at personalized meals using 3d printing for at least a couple of years, with the hope that personalized meals will maintain a healthier, sharper fighting force.
While there are plenty of food 3d printers available, researchers are currently working on a device that will hold 8 cartridges filled with different ingredients, with software that understands what shape is being created, using that information to determine what temperature to heat the food. This is similar to knowing which kind of filament material one is using on their desktop 3d printer and setting their printer to the correct extrusion temperature.