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Could 3D food printing be the next TV dinner?

A photo shows decorated Belgian waffles sitting on cooling racks.
A photo shows decorated Belgian waffles sitting on cooling racks.
Mark Renders/Getty Images

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A research team at Columbia University is developing a 3D-printer that can cook food using infrared heat.

The printer is designed for home use, and would use cartridges of ingredients to make each food item. The device is about the size of a blender, and would easily fit on a kitchen counter.

Columbia engineers have been working with the International Culinary Institute in New York to experiment with different tastes. Things like chocolate, cheese and cookie dough have been used in combinations to make spiral-like pastes, but savory items like pesto and fish have also been combined to create additions to entrees.

New high-tech specialty restaurants are already using 3D food printers as a selling point. But a device for at-home use, especially one with a cooking mechanism is something new. Aside from a Star Trek-like convenience factor, the food printer is also said to have the perk of customizing food for maximum nutritional value.

It would ideally be able to mix ingredients which are programmed to make a meal unique to your body's needs. But will this be a modern innovation akin to what TV dinners did in the 1950s?


Hod Lipson, professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia University; he leads the team at Columbia that is developing the at-home 3D food printer

Francine Segan, Food historian and author of six cookbooks