Last year, a UK firm had begun to let the world know that it was developing a new food 3D printer that combined modernist cooking techniques with 3D printing to bring a whole new world of flavors and textures to our taste buds. Dovetailed had yet to name their device, but photos of the machine’s prints looked delicious, if not a bit Jell-o-like. Now, the company is getting even closer to the release of their final product, the Nufood Robot 3D Printer, and even more details have emerged.
The Nufood system operates on the principals of spherification, in which a sodium rich gel, like sodium alginate, is introduced to a cold solution of calcium chloride, causing a delicate skin to form and contain the gel inside. This technique is often implemented by modernist chefs in order to create new eating experiences that confuse and excite the mind. For instance, a yolk-looking shape, encapsulating mango flavoring, might be whipped up to cross the brain’s signals relating to eggs and mangoes. In the case of the Dovetailed machine, raspberry juice and balsamic vinegar “flavor bombs” are dropped layer by layer to fabricate something that looks like a strawberry, but tastes like a raspberry.
Along with the Nufood Robot, which automates the spherification process and allows for layered assembly, Dovetailed is designing an app that allows users to customize their 3D printed shapes, and possibly, even flavors. Principal designer of the Nufood system, Robert Curtis, told IBTimes UK at the Re.Work Future Technology Summit in London, “Like the range of flavours, the use case possibilities are vast. It can be used to create new condiments, food toppings, or even within cocktails. And you’ll be surprised what flavours work together, like the combination of raspberry flavour bombs with chili flavour bombs.”
Curtis continues, “Firstly, a lot of competitors liquidise the food and extrude in a shape. We go beyond this by providing exciting new possibilities in cuisine, with new textures, flavours and experiences. Secondly, competitors tend to retrofit existing 3D printers to make them usable for food. As it’s built specifically for this purpose, the Nufood printer is cleaner and more hygenic. We want it to be a desirable product that people want to have on show in their kitchen – not stashed away in a workshop somewhere.”
Dovetailed is still prototyping the Nufood Robot, but the plan is to launch a crowfunding campaign in the near future, aiming for mass production next year. The price of the product, Dovetailed says, will be similar to a high-end consumer espresso machine.