[VIDEO] Foodini: The 3D Printer That Prints Your Dinner

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By Jesselle Maminta | January 2, 2014 1:52 PM EST

Isn't it cool if you only have to push a button to turn your ingredients into the most sumptuous meal you've ever had? A 3D printer does just that.

Natural Machines, a Barcelona-based startup company, has developed Foodini. Basically, it is a 3D printer that allows you to get creative with your food ideas with minimal effort and without compromising quality.

As Lynette Kucsma of Natural Machines explained to Mashable, Foodini's main purpose is "to take on the difficult and/or time-consuming parts of food preparation that often discourage people from creating homemade food, whether it's in a home kitchen or a restaurant."

The machine is more of an "assembly line" device than a meal-o-matic similar to that envisioned in sci-fi shows such as Star Trek. It uses food capsules squeeze out pasty food such as dough or batter into 3D shapes selected using the iPad-like control interface.

For example, to make ravioli, place the dough and the filling into separate food capsules. Then select "ravioli" and the desired figure in the interface, and the Foodini will squeeze the dough and the filling into shapes selected from the device.

"It's probably most ideal for deserts or dishes with a meat or cheese paste, like ravioli," Kucsma said in an interview with Smithsonian Magazine. "But even then it can be useful with many different kinds of food."

The Foodini can make gnocchi, pasta shapes, cookies, chocolate sculptures and even burgers. However, the device only works well with foods with smooth, fluid texture so ground meat is out of the question as the moment. The burgers made by the Foodini in the demonstration to Smithsonian was made of bean paste.

3D food printing is not an entirely new technology. Natural Machines has previously made a similar 3D printer that makes cakes and chocolate sculptures. After trying out the device in an event, Kucsma found the printer intriguing. But as a health-conscious foodie, she thought there could be a way to make this device work with other food items. Kucsma then got involved with Natural Machines, and soon the Foodini was born.

The final prototype of the Foodini will be designed about the same size as a microwave oven so it does not occupy a hefty amount of space in the kitchen. Natural Machines is currently in the process of having the device approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The device, however, is due to launch in mid-2014 and will cost around $1,300.

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