Cornucopia: The Printer that Prints Food

We’ve talked about printers printing human organs, and toasters printing images on bread. How about a printer that actually prints food?

Over at the MIT Labs, the Fluid Interfaces Group is running a project that involves what they call Cornucopia, a “personal food factory” which is essentially a three-dimensional printer that brings together ingredients to produce food. The machine stores food in refrigerated canisters, and then when food is needed, the machine pipes in ingrediets, and heats or cools these as necessary. These are then deposited layer by layer until the desired output is achieved.

Cornucopia’s cooking process starts with an array of food canisters, which refrigerate and store a user’s favorite ingredients. These are piped into a mixer and extruder head that can accurately deposit elaborate combinations of food. While the deposition takes place, the food is heated or cooled by Cornucopia’s chamber or the heating and cooling tubes located on the printing head. This fabrication process not only allows for the creation of flavors and textures that would be completely unimaginable through other cooking techniques, but it also allows the user to have ultimate control over the origin, quality, nutritional value and taste of every meal.

The research lab says the project is currently starting. Will the Cornucopia change the way we prepare and consume food? Or is it just a glorified refrigerator / oven / food dispenser? I think the main advantage of this gadget is the precise control by which users can define how much they want to eat, in terms of nutrition content, and how one can create textures and flavors that might be difficult to achieve through traditional cooking techniques. Now that’s something that I think even celebrity chefs can’t do!

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