MIT’s Cornucopia: 3D printing with food

Paul Raven @ 18-01-2010

Ah, those crazy geeks and boffins at MIT – is there any idea they can’t run with so far and long that it ceases to make any sense whatsoever? Here’s your trajectory: you already know about 3D printing, right? And that there’s a 3d printer called the CandyFab, which specialises in fabbing objects using the tooth-rottingly delectable medium of edible sugars?

So why not go all the way and propose the Cornucopia – a 3D printer that can output almost any sort of food ingredient you can imagine in almost any three-dimensional matrix, plus make sure it’s all cooked properly? [initial tip from @BLDGBLOG, whence a long chain of relinks takes us to Shapeways; image courtesy MIT Fluid Interfaces group]

As a thought-experiment into the possible uses of fabrication technology, it’s a pretty neat idea… but it’s taken me about two minutes to create a ten-strong list of impracticalities that make it an utterly pointless endeavour. I suppose the justification would be that the interim research into fluid dynamics, microscopic fabrication/extrusion, focussed heating and complex programming would produce a whole raft of new avenues for development… but come on, MIT guys’n’girls! Couldn’t you be turning those big brains to developing something we actually need?