Engineers at Columbia University are trying to make that fantasy a reality, and they’ve now figured out how to simultaneously 3D-print and cook layers of pureed chicken, according to a recent paper published in the journal npj Science of Food.
Co-author Hob Lipson runs the Creative Machines Lab at Columbia University, where the research was conducted. Back in 2007, his team first introduced the 3D printing of food items. They used the Fab@Home personal fabrication system to create multimaterial edible 3D objects with cake frosting, chocolate, processed cheese, and peanut butter. However, commercial appliances capable of simultaneously printing and cooking food layers don’t exist yet. There have been some studies investigating how to cook food using lasers, and Lipson’s team thought this might be a promising avenue to explore further.
The scientists purchased raw chicken breast from a local convenience store and then pureed it in a food processor to get a smooth, uniform consistency. They removed any tendons and refrigerated the samples before repackaging them into 3D-printing syringe barrels to avoid clogging. The cooking apparatus used a high-powered diode laser, a set of mirror galvanometers (devices that detect electrical current by deflecting light beams), a fixture for custom 3D printing, laser shielding, and a removable tray on which to cook the 3D-printed chicken.
Watch the video here: