Alex Lightman is a futurist who spends a lot of his time thinking about what new food technology will mean for the way people eat. And he believes that one of the surest things about the future of 3D printed food is that it won’t work the way people imagine it will.
“People think that things are going to be automated and scaled, but that’s not true,” he said. “The truth is that people really misunderstand how it’s going to work.”
Lightman serves on the advisory board of Natural Machines, a Barcelona-based company that is getting ready to launch a new 3D printer called Foodini that will allow both amateur home-cooks and Michelin star chefs to manipulate food in ways that weren’t previously possible—at least commercially. The machine, which will be released later this year, can produce almost any shape and process many different inputs (not simply chocolate, like other proof of concepts). Homemade pasta of almost any shape and size, perfectly packed veggie burgers, carefully portioned, identically shaped servings of mashed potatoes—these things will all be easy tasks for the new food toy.
The hallmark of the coming Age is that it will be personal – all aspects of it.
The last Age was about mass production, faceless assembly lines making the same thing for everyone. Now we will move into a period where the tools of production provide different things for everyone.
3D printing of food will not make it easier to produce the same thing for everyone. No one will use it for such. But, the ability to manipulate food stuffs into what ever we want will directly come from 3D-printing of food.
Think of Star Trek. They had wonderful meals at the ship’s lunch room. Think what could be done at home.
The creativity of cooking is about to be enhanced exponentially.
Image: Randen Pederson