Natural Machines has been making our mouths water with its planned Foodini food 3D printer for months. Now, it looks like it will ship the first model in January 2015 to people who back the Barcelona-based startup’s Kickstarter campaign.
Food is one of the oldest desktop 3D printing mediums. Like existing food printers, the Foodini is compatible with ingredients that are not too firm and not too runny; think cookie dough or Velveeta cheese. It can print vase-like chocolate pieces, dinosaur-shaped quiches (pictured above) or anything else a user dreams up.
But Natural Machines’ main innovation was building a printer that can print with six different ingredients and designing it to look like any other compact, stainless steel appliance.
Natural Machines emphasized in its campaign that the printer is compatible with healthy, fresh foods, including fruits and vegetables. Users prep ingredients by hand and then put them in the six canisters from which the printer draws its “ink.”
I was curious how the Foodini adapts to different recipes and textures, and the short answer is that it doesn’t. Natural Machines will offer a series of pre-tested recipes that should teach users the texture they need to achieve for an original recipe to work with the printer, according to the startup’s website. It will come with a library of shapes for printing.
For now, the company is committed to leaving their canisters open for users to fill. But it is also considering working with food providers to produce pre-filled capsules–a sort of frozen dinner for the age of 3D printers. Unfortunately, the Foodini doesn’t cook food too. You still have to do that yourself.
Natural Machines is upfront that this is not a machine that will do all of your cooking for you. While you can use the Foodini to print a pizza, it’s still faster to add spices and cheese by hand. Natural Machines states that it’s better to use it for repetitive, difficult tasks that otherwise make cooking unpleasant. It can form ravioli or print cookies in complex shapes and then frost them, and do it hundreds of times without tiring.
The Foodini is going for $1,000 on Kickstarter, though its retail price is expected to be around $1,300. Natural Machines is asking for $100,000 to bring it to production.