Today, too many people eat too much convenience foods, or pre-processed foods, or pre-made meals – many with ingredients that are unidentifiable to the common consumer, versus homemade, healthy foods and snacks. But there is the problem of people not having enough time to make homemade foods from scratch. Take an example of ravioli. How often have you made homemade ravioli? Rolling out the dough to a thin layer, adding the filling, adding the top layer of dough, and then cutting it to size takes time. So, you have to buy the prepackage versions that are shelf-stable for years, with preservatives and usually too much salt, etc. Or just let Foodini do it for you. Still a prototype and expected to be launched on the market from Barcelona-based startup Natural Machines in the second half of 2014, Foodini is a kitchen appliance that takes on the difficult parts of making food that is hard or time consuming to make fully by hand.
By 3D printing food, it automates some of the assembly or finishing steps of home cooking, thus making it easier to create freshly made meals and snacks. Simply load the dough and filling into Foodini, and it will print individual raviolis for you. The 3D printing of food – in this case, creating a layer of pasta, a layer of filling, and covering it with a layer of pasta again – is assembling the ravioli. The same as you would do by hand, except Foodini automates it: you don’t have to manually do all the work. The printer has a built in touch screen on the front that provides the user interface for printing food. Once the user chooses the recipe they want to print (from the onboard touchscreen, or from a user’s tablet, laptop, etc.), Foodini will instruct what food to put in each capsule, and then printing can begin. The food is real food, made from fresh ingredients prepared before printing, since Foodini uses an open capsule model, meaning the consumer prepares and fills them with fresh ingredients.