Ultimaker 3D printer

3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is experiencing a boom, as industry seeks ways to cheaply and rapidly develop new designs. The technology sees products or components built layer by layer, following a pattern determined by a computer.  The resulting objects can be any shape or size, rendering a perfect replica of their computer-model counterparts. Traditionally 3D printing has been used to produce prototypes fast, however budding makers are finding ever more uses for the emerging tech.

Additive manufacturing has hit the headlines in recent years, and not always for good reasons.  In 2013, an American firm developed the world’s first working 3D printed gun, with plans to publish its blueprints online.  Far less controversially, students at TU Delft put the technology to the test printing a full-sized, fully-functioning steel bicycle.  Best of all however, the technology’s low cost and abundant materials make it perfect for open-source community projects like e-NABLE, producing affordable prosthetics for those in need.

In the latest step towards the future, Food Ink last month opened the world’s first 3D printing restaurant.  The completely unique ‘print out pop-up’ features furniture, utensils and food all produced by additive manufacturing.  The restaurant’s world premiere took place at the end of July, in the heart of London’s tech and innovation scene.

8 Dray Walk, Shoreditch played host to the tech that could see us downloading something delicious in the not too distant future. Dinner guests from 25-27 July were treated to a 9-course menu devised by top chefs, and printed live at the table.  While the exclusive experience was open to just 10 diners each evening, foodies at home could live-stream the entire event.

The food itself is printed and served using byFlow Focus printers, and is prepared with fresh, natural ingredients.  Food Ink combines cutting edge technologies including 3D printing and augmented reality, serving food like never before.  In order to ‘print’ the dishes, ingredients must first be turned into a paste.  This is then poured into a nozzle- called an extruder- and attached to the printer, ready to be crafted into works of edible art.  Foods such as hummus, pizza dough, goats cheese, meat, and most importantly chocolate, all make perfect fodder for the printer.

Following the launch of the restaurant in London this summer, Food Ink is set to begin a whirl wind tour across the globe. Calling in at cities across Europe, America and Asia, the high-tech restaurant will challenge diners’ relationships with food around the world. Dishes we are likely to see include a techy twist on classic fish and chips, steak tartare with a 90’s video-game makeover and of course plenty of intricately printed chocolate shapes.

Ultimaker” by “Juho Metsävuori” is licensed under CC By 2.0.