3-D Food Printing: Coming Soon to . . . YOUR Area?

3-d_printer

A necessary aside: I am 73 years old. I am finding it increasingly more difficult, recently, to get my head around some of the totally mind-boggling technological developments smiling, hard-working 20-somethings are coming up with these days.

I ‘get’ that the cloud doesn’t mean data is likely to come pouring out of the sky on heavily overcast days. But the concept of 3-D printing of parts for this and that has caused me to scratch a new, hair-free hole in my head. Now I learn that, not just ‘on the horizon’ but already it is possible to 3-D print food!   

I’ve read about it; I’ve watched the video linked to below. I still feel that I barely grasp what in the world these people are doing, and what it suggests for the future!

But this is a ‘trends’-oriented blog, and this is, hard as it may be to imagine, a trend. I don’t expect I’ll ever be ‘printing’ any of my food, but many born much more recently more than likely will – probably sooner than you’d think!

In Sweden, a company named VTT says on its website it uses “4,000,000 hours of brainpower a year to develop new technological solutions.”

Among them – in a world where some solutions are chasing and anticipating problems – is a way to create interesting new food products employing 3-D printing – where, in this case, raw materials, actual edible ingredients, are combined in unique ways and either printed or extruded into interesting, imaginative shapes, familiar and even exciting new flavors in the forms of ‘foods’ the world’s never seen before. Foods well beyond, in short, what nature has created – but ‘good’ enough, in their own right, to attract – or so the imaginers say – commercial audiences of various sorts.

As recently as a decade ago, most scientists, even, would have declared this to be a fantasy – something that could never be done. But it is being done, today, by no less a name brand than Barilla, which is employing printing technology to generate pasta in both traditional and highly imaginative shapes. And Italy-based Barilla is far from alone in exploring this new frontier.

This video points to five companies creating means for manufacturers, and even families at home, to generate unique foodstuffs they’ve designed themselves, using either pre-packaged or ready-to-hand ingredients. (The latter, I gather, is more a hope than a reality.)

The imaginations of those creating products likely to become, within a short few years, as ubiquitous as the home microwave seem to have no limits. One company/research lab involved in such developments even has a slogan something like “If you can imagine it, we can create it”! And I don’t doubt for a minute that they can.

In the above-cited video, you see a room occupied by a number of people at computer terminals. Collectively – no, individually – they have access to more computing power than it took to put a man on the moon. The amount of computing capacity of such a research room is, today, almost impossible to calculate.

By comparison, the Manhattan Project, which led to the creation of the first atomic bomb (and, ultimately, the end of World War II), involved more than 130,000 people and cost the U.S. nearly $2 billion, in 1940’s dollars – about $26 billion today. They didn’t have a lot of computing power to work with – and that’s an overstatement.

Today’s whiz kids – that was the name of a 1980’s TV series – are seeing the technology available to them expanding so fast it must be hard for even these hard-wired kids to keep up!

One of my sources for this post was the U.K.’s New Food magazine. You can subscribe free at their website. But you don’t really need to: I’m pretty on top of what they say that should – really should – interest you.

One of the aims of this blog is to stretch your horizon – to take you places, in terms of countries, developments, and concepts – your schedule keeps you from keeping up with in the way I do.

I will be highly appreciative if you will get others in your organization to ‘follow’ me. I make no money from this blog, but I hope to do so – sooner than later.

(I’m getting on, and I have a 23-years-younger wife I hope to take places I’ve been. One year, 20 some years back, I saw Christmas decorations in New York City, London and Paris in the same season. It would be nice to do that again with someone who’s never seen either of the latter two cities! Social Security – plus her way-too-low salary – doesn’t allow for it. But support for this blog – and my other one, YouSayWHAT.info – could help do so!)

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