For those of us in the US it is Thanksgiving Day. I couldn’t help but wonder how new technology will affect our holiday in the future. Here are some new and potential uses for 3D printing that, if some of these come to pass, would make for an exciting turkey day.
Tired of the same old turkey? Don’t like the way most turkeys are raised and looking for an alternative? Billionaire Peter Thiel might have a solution for you. This August his foundation announced a grant for the creation of bio-printed meat using medical-grade tissue. The grant was awarded to a company named Modern Meadow to help it design an environmentally friendly way of producing protein for human consumption.
Modern Meadow believes it can create a bio-ink from prepared multicellular aggregates and have it delivered into a biocompatible support structure. The ink would then go through a post-printing procedure to mold it into shape and change the ink from a past like substance into something more solid and appetizing. They also believe that this technology would allow for versatility by being able to change out the cellular aggregate to create different types of meat on demand.
While meat made from a bio-paste may not sound appetizing, if the final product can match the texture and flavor of true meat many will be able to overlook its unconventional production. Beyond the obvious applications for the culinary adventurous, this would make for a great alternative for those who don’t eat meat for ethical or health reasons. Once the cost and reliability of the technology comes down the production of the multicellular base should be less resource intensive then actual livestock rising. This introduces interesting applications in providing a protein source for parts of the world struggling with meeting nutritional requirements.
NASA has been working on a project to use 3D printing for space based food production. Pizza is the first obvious candidate due to its layer design, however many believe desserts will be some of the first foods to truly be printed.
This is not as far in the future as you might think. There are some research groups printing deserts right now. A group out of Cornell University has used layers of printable chocolate to print shapes that then harden after printing.
A company out of Los Angeles has already started using a printable icing similar to fondant icing used by confectioners. With this they can quickly design intricately woven lattices to be placed on cakes and custom deserts. As the speed and versatility of this type of printing increases they believe they can change the face of custom printing. Imagine being able to get a custom wedding cake in just a few hours.
3D Printed Dining Room
Have extra guests show up unexpectedly for thanksgiving?
There will be a day in the future where you can pop out to your garage and print off a few more chairs, some more plates and cups, or even perhaps a small table for the kids to eat at. This of course requires 3D printers to become much larger and the prices of the machines to fall a significant amount. But looking back at even the last few years of 3D printing, the advancement of the technology and the gradually decreasing price tag it does become a distinct possibility.
Until this stuff becomes a reality we will still do things the old fashioned way. But imagine what the world will be like.