3-D-printed pizza

Photo: Natural Machines

This week Natural Machines, a Barcelona-based company, announced it had overcome the greatest challenge to making homemade pizza: shaping the dough and applying an even layer of sauce.

How'd they do it? With Foodini, a 3-D food printer the company hopes will bring food-printing technology into the home.

Natural Machines created the perfectly round pizza with its uniform layer of sauce by designing a blueprint for the pizza and then sending a print command to Foodini.

The device printed the dough from a food syringe, adding line after line of dough and then line after line of sauce. Natural Machines staff added cheese and spices by hand before baking the pie.

The company has printed a variety of food, including ravioli, burgers, rolls, cookies and pumpkin gnocchi.

Natural Machines isn't the only company developing such a printer. Cornell University's Computational Synthesis Lab has been developing the FabApp, a commercial 3-D food printer that will enable users to download recipes and print meals using raw-food ink syringes.

Just like a regular printer, the FabApp would work at the touch of a button and print the desired number of copies.

"FabApps would allow you to tweak your food's taste, texture and other properties," Dr. Jeffrey Ian Lipton, the lead on the Cornell project, told BBC. "Maybe you really love biscuits, but want them extra flaky. You would change the slider and the recipe and the instructions would adjust accordingly."

While the Foodini and the FabApp are designed for commercial use, other 3-D-food printing technology is being developed to feed astronauts during long space missions.

NASA awarded $125,000 to Texas-based Systems and Materials Research Consultancy in May to study how to make efficient and nutritious space food with a 3-D printer.

SMRC engineers envision a system that will print meals using layers of food powders that will have a shelf life of 30 years.

Learn more about Natural Machines' Foodini in the video below.

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