The ever popular subject of 3D printed food is back on the menu this week, thanks to pasta giant Barilla. The multinational maker of bolognaise, brioches, bucatini, breads, bavettine and everything else edible and Italian has just announced its goal for 2014: to install 3D pasta printers into restaurants across the globe.
Partnering up with Dutch 3D print firm TNO Eindhoven, Barilla has spent the last two years working on models that will deliver piles of pasta in minutes, on the spot, at the push of a button. Not only that, thanks to the ultra-customisability of additive manufacturing, diners can choose whatever shape they wish or even design their own, new, personalised style.
Ever fancied a plate of eggplant parmigiana but with pasta shaped like Nick Clegg’s face instead of that boring old linguini? Well now you can. All you have to do is make a CAD file of your intended pasta shape, bring it to the restaurant on a USB and get them to print it for you in their kitchen. Voila: you’ll be tucking into your plate of Parmigiana di Melanzane con la Faccia di Nick Clegg in no time.
The project leader over at TNO Eindhoven is Kjeld Van Bommel and, while he still believes the project is some way from completion, he reckons TNO and Barilla are on course to equip at least a few restaurants with these machines by the end of next year. Already, they have installed a number of test printers in a few Eindhoven eateries, though, as yet, none have managed the speeds of 20 pieces in 2 minutes that Van Bommel is hoping for.
This is certainly not the first time a 3D printer has been used for culinary creativity nor is it the first time a big name organisation has investigated the possibilities of 3D printed food. Choc-Edge’s 3D chocolate printer has been on the market for more than a year now, while NASA has a long standing interest in how 3D printed pizza could help elongate space missions.
Yet this is the first time a really big name food brand has shown deep commitment to the future of additive manufacturing and that is big news.