To think of a food 3D printer probably conjures imagery of 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 infeasible.
The food printer of today is a more grounded beast, tracing single edible 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 not so many edible pastes capable of being squeezed through a nozzle physically incapable of structuring 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 into what exactly the food printer market looks like today. Here are 10 notable examples.
|Printer||Prints||Uses||Print Volume (mm)||Price|
|byFlow Focus||Thick pastes||Catering||208 x 228 x 150||$4,300 (€3,900)|
|Choc Edge Choc Creator V2 Plus||Chocolate||Catering||180 x 180 x 40||$2,299|
|Structur3D Discov3ry||Pastes||Home, Catering||Printer-dependent||$1,299|
|MMuse Touchscreen||Chocolate||Catering||160 x 120 x 150||$5,700|
|Natural Machines Foodini||Pastes||Catering||257 (diameter) x 110 (height)||$4,000|
|Print2Taste Procusini 4.0||Pasta, Chocolate, Marzipan, Cassis, Fondant||Catering||250 x 150 x 100||$2,625 (€2,382)|
|Wiiboox Sweetin||Pastes||Catering||95 x 80 x 90||$1,999|
|ZMorph VX + Thick Paste Extruder||Pastes||Home||250 x 235 x 165||$4,399|
|Createbot 3D Food Printer||Pastes||Home, Catering||150 x 150 x 100||$2,115|
|Print2Taste Mycusini||Chocolate||Home||105 x 105 x 70||$275 (€250)|
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 to customize their wares, printing edible objects in forms not possible by hand or mold.
With the purchase of the Focus, you get a 3 year license of byFlow Studio, a design software for creating and sharing your food designs with fellow users. Along with several recipes for 3D printable food, the byFlow Studio displays a collection of more than 100 different shapes.
A few accessories are available from byFlow, such as additional print heads, nozzles and extra cartridges. The not-so-great news is that they only deliver in Europe, for ordering elsewhere you must contact their sales support team.
Find out more about this printer at byFlow.
Desktop sized and designed to be as user-friendly as possible, the Choc Creator V2 Plus takes tempered chocolate provided by the user, keeps it warm, and extrudes it through a food-grade stainless steel nozzle.
Choc Edge offers a wide range of software and apps to further enhance the printer’s capabilities. For designing, the mobile app CHOC DRAW enables freehand doodling of 2D designs which can be sent directly to the printer. MIX & MATCH, on the other hand, is a web-based app where users can generate simple text models or even customize other designs available on the platform. Last but not least, CHOC PRINT, their own slicer software, allows the printing of all other models outside their digital ecosystem.
With that said, with a maximum Z-axis travel distance of 40 mm, this machine is best suited to 2D and small decorative prints rather than oversize pieces of structural complexity. It is available for purchase in the US and Canada.
Not strictly a food printer, but something we’re throwing in anyway since it can be affixed to a wide range of 3D printers to allow paste printing, which includes edible ones.
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. Structur3D has just recently announced the Discov3ry 2.0, which allows two different materials to be mixed together and simultaneously extruded.
Although best paired with Ultimaker printers, this accessory is compatible with several printers. Just be sure to select the right integration kit when purchasing it.
Find out more about this accessory at Structur3D.
Uniquely among the food printers on this list, the MMuse Touchscreen Chocolate 3D Printer (catchy name) features a hopper system for its feedstock, accepting chocolate chips of 2 to 4 mm diameter and melting them 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 printer, it would appear that it comes loaded with a number of models ready to print in chocolate.
It is an expensive machine, but it might be one of the sturdier printers in this list for it boasts a strong aluminum structure. The MMuse Touchscreen can be conveniently operated through WiFi, USB and SD cards. It is available from the following resellers:
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.
Rather than a rectangular plate, the Foodini has a round build plate made of Pyrex glass – the same oven-proof glass usually found in microwave dishes. The printing chamber is temperature-controlled and the printer can contain up to 5 food-grade stainless steel capsules that are automatically exchanged.
The washable parts are all dishwasher safe too. Great idea!
Find out more about this printer at Natural Machines.
Possibly the most polished and “plug-and-play” food printer to feature in this roundup, the Procusini features an effortless cartridge system for its feedstock, 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 cartridges are available for the Procusini: pasta (in four colors), chocolate, cassis, marzipan, and fondant (both available in five colors). During printing, these refill cartridges can be heated up to 60 °C. A dual extrusion machine is also available, allowing for the simultaneous printing of two different foodstuffs.
With the purchase of a Procusini printer, the user gets total access to their online platform – the Procusini Club. It is said to have thousands of ready-to-print templates, objects, text and hollow models. The platform also provides video tutorials and tips for getting the most out of this incredible printer.
The Procusini can only be found at resellers in Europe.
Find out more about this printer at Procusini.
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. It features an auto-leveling mechanism, freeing the user of tedious bed-leveling operations.
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. The tool head alone costs $249 at ZMorph’s online store.
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.
Find out more about this printer at ZMorph.
With a solid metal frame, the Createbot is yet another great choice those looking for multi-material 3D food printers. Indeed, it can print various paste-type foodstuffs, such as cookie batter, bean paste, mashed potatoes, chocolate, and even sesame paste.
To be able to work with all these kinds of materials, the Createbot’s extrusion head adjusts its temperature according to the material. In terms of connectivity, this printer can be controlled from various devices such as mobiles, tablets and computers.
The Createbot 3D Food Printer is available in three fancy colors: champagne gold, silver or rose gold.
Perhaps the newest addition to the pool, the Mycusini 3D food printer from German startup Print2Taste is also the cheapest one. The first units of the crowdfunding project have just recently shipped out.
The printer uses a stainless steel cartridge that is refilled with chocolate provided by the manufacturer. It also has an internal battery that allows printing for up to 2 hours. This enables great mobility, being that it is pretty small compared to 3D printers in general.
The printer comes with more than 200 3D models already installed. For non-backers of the Kickstarter project, Mycusini is only available via pre-order. A first, it will be shipped only to Europe, New Zealand and Australia.
Find out more about this printer at Mycusini.
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 2019" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.