It sounds like science fiction, but it is a reality: 3D food printing. And if you can literally print food, what does that mean for farming? Kerrie Staight spoke to Dutch expert Dr Kjeld van Bommel at the recent South Australian Food Summit.
KERRY: First of all, what is 3D food printing?
KJELD: 3D food printing is, well, just like 3D printing, except you use food materials. So if you want to know what 3D printing is, it’s – you start off with a drawing in a computer, 3D object of some kind, which is then sliced by the computer into different layers and each of these layers is then printed by a printer, one on top of the other so that you end up with a 3D object that is the same as the design in the computer. And you don’t need shapes or moulds or any of those things. And if you do that with food, then it’s 3D food printing.
KERRY: Now the idea’s been around for a few years now. How far has it progressed? What sort of food are we actually printing?
KJELD: Commercially, you don’t really see a lot of food being printed. However, in the Netherlands, for example, all pancakes that you find in the supermarkets that you put in your microwave, they’re all printed. It’s not 3D; it is a single layer, so it doesn’t count as 3D, but they come out of a printer, an ink jet printer similar to what you have at home and they print one million a day of these. Here in Australia, Jaffa Cakes – the logos on top of the Jaffa Cakes are now printed with the same technology, Dutch technology. … (read more)