3-D Printers Can Now Print Out A Full Chicken Dinner

By Doug Norrie | 3 months ago

3-d printer

Soon, we could be looking at the end of tediously following directions in a cookbook, or scrolling through 6000 words about the history of lasagna before we get the actual recipe on the cooking website. That’s because scientists are currently working with advanced technology to have certain aspects of cooking happen at just the touch of a button. And no, I don’t mean zapping something in a microwave. That’s because folks are working on 3-D printer cooking technology, employing lasers, that could open up a whole new world of culinary creativity. 

In an article for npj Science of Food (via Scientific American) titled “Precision cooking for printed foods via multi-wavelength lasers”, a group from Columbia University has been working on creating a 3-D printer that can produce food selections in an incredibly detailed way. Essentially, the concept combines 3-D printer capabilities but combines it with a variety of lasers for the cooking process that can create all sorts of dishes. And they are starting things off with a little chicken dinner.

Basically, a 3-D printer about the size of a microwave is retrofitted with an assortment of lasers to combine the printing and the cooking. In their example, very thin layers of chicken puree are placed along with the printer and the lasers work methodically to cook each slice. The settings allow the cooking process to get incredibly detailed with the lasers making passes over the meat to cook it to a variety of specifications. And this also allows for a more precise version of actual cooking because different lasers will end up cooking different portions of the chicken. Depending on the wavelength of the laser, it will either cook more of the inside of the meat while other wavelengths will focus more on the exterior. This will give the “cook” the opportunity to have the meat a certain consistency without being some kind of grill master. 

3-d printer

While 3-D printed food technology has been around for more than a decade now, there have been limitations. Most notably, actually cooking this food within the same device has proven a difficult venture. One issue, as mentioned in the paper, is that the meat come sometimes cross-contaminated between the raw and cooked layers if the cooking apparatus isn’t accurate enough. Up until this point, the food could be 3-D printed but would need to be transferred to another device to actually handle the cooking aspect. This latest innovation would make it an all-in-one device, something that could truly revolutionize the culinary arts. 

There seems to be general agreement among the scientists involved with the study as well as other culinary experts that this new method, once perfected for cooking will be a greatly improved version over conventional methods. In addition to 3-D printer cooking chicken at a millimeter level, the technology will allow users to save settings to recreate dishes at a near 1:1 rate. It’s an exciting prospect for those who love their food to be highbrow and delicious as well as those who just want to push a simple button to have something cooked perfectly.