To think of a 3D food printer probably conjures imagery of full, complex dishes presented in a flash at pinpoint perfection. Sadly the sci-fi future of being able to utter “tea, Earl Grey, hot”, or “Fish!” is both a long way off and impractically unfeasible.
The food printer of today is a more grounded beast, tracing single pastes into (mostly) precision shapes as determined by both a 3D model and slicing software that converts it into instructions the printer can follow.
There are material limitations to what is possible, with the few foods capable of being squeezed through a nozzle physically incapable of overtly complex shapes. As a result, the food printer is more likely to be pumping out custom 2.5D designs, than extravagant edibles the mind can barely comprehend.
So, with that sad reality established let’s dive on in to what exactly the food printer market looks like today. Here are eight notable examples, sorted alphabetically.
A special case in that it comes in… well, a case! The Focus by byFlow is a portable food printer that uses user-filled syringes to extrude designs onto a static plate.
In use in professional kitchens and 3D printing-focused popup restaurants, the Focus is a slick machine that allows chefs, patissiers, chocolatiers and others customize their wares, printing edible objects in forms not possible by hand or mold.
Discover more about this food printer: 3dbyflow.com
Desktop sized and designed to be as user friendly as possible, the Choc Creator V2 takes tempered chocolate provided by the user, keeps it warm, and extrudes it through an 0.8mm nozzle.
Paired with the ChocPrint slicing software (compatible only with Windows), you can take basic 3D models and prepare them into chocolate printable files. With only 40mm travel in the Z-axis though, this machine is best suited to 2D and small decorative prints, rather than oversize pieces of structural complexity.
Discover more about this food printer: chocedge.com
Not strictly a food printer, but something we’re throwing in anyway since it can be affixed to a wide range of inexpensive 3D printers to convert them into food printers.
If you already own a 3D printer, the Discov3ry could prove a cost-effective upgrade for food printing. Plugging into your printer’s existing extruder connections, this system adds paste extruding abilities via a syringe system and a variety of different nozzle sizes.
Discover more about this food printer (accessory) here: structur3d.io
Uniquely among the food printers on this list, the MMuse Touchscreen Chocolate 3D Printer (catchy name) features a hopper system for its feed stock, accepting chocolate chips and melting them itself for extrusion.
Also present on the MMuse Touchscreen Chocolate 3D Printer is a large touchscreen interface for easy operation. Judging from the promotional material of this food printer, it would appear that it comes loaded with a number of models ready to print in chocolate.
Perhaps the closest looking thing to a Star Trek replicator, Natural Machines’ Foodini is a beast of a food printer. Capable of handling more than just thick pastes, the Foodini — thanks to a generous array of wide nozzle sizes and wide cartridges — can even print out chunky burgers laced with cranberries, walnuts et al.
Designed with the goal of promoting healthy eating and the inventive (and convenient) forming of all-natural foodstuffs, the Foodini sees use in rehabilitation centers and professional kitchens alike.
Discover more about this food printer here: naturalmachines.com
Possibly the most polished and “plug-and-play” food printer to feature in this roundup, the Procusini (formerly known as the Bocusini), features an effortless cartridge system for its feed stock, meaning the contact between food and machine itself is limited to the nozzle, which is removable for running through the dishwasher. Simple!
Five specially formulated foods are available for the Procusini: pasta (in four colors), chocolate, cassis, marzipan and fondant (both available in five colors).
A dual extrusion Procusini is available, allowing for the simultaneous printing of two different foodstuffs.
Discover more about this food printer here: procusini.com
Positioned as a chocolate 3D printer, the Wiiboox Sweetin is actually more of a general food printer, allowing for the extrusion of a variety of edibles from its thick paste extruder. Think jams, mashed potato, bean pastes and, naturally, chocolate.
A touchscreen interface should make for easy operation, and Wiiboox claims anyone that knows how to use a computer can operate the Sweetin.
Well, they don’t call it an all-in-one 3D printer for nothing. Yes indeed, in addition to 3D printing, CNC milling, laser engraving and sundry other tool head enabled functions, the Zmorph VX can also be a food printer.
Thanks to the optional thick paste extruder, this tank of a printer can precisely extrude chocolate, cookie dough and other semi-fluid foodstuffs.
Zmorph does not claim that foods extruded using the Thick Paste tool head are certified as eatable, so perhaps this is one best left to home use. The real draw here anyway is that this is a multi-tool machine.
Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments and we’ll consider it in a future update.
Lead image credit: Natural Machines
License: The text of "Best 3D Food Printers of 2018" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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