This could change food forever: Scientists managed to 3D print a slice of cake

Mar 22 2023, 9:05 pm

A group of scientists from Columbia University has succeeded in their experiment to 3D print a slice of cake, and it could revolutionize food science forever.

Anyone who has attempted to bake a cake at home knows it involves a tricky balance. And so when this group of researchers decided to give it a go using scientific methods, they knew it would not be a… piece of cake (sorry).

Jonathan David Blutinger, Christen Cupples Cooper, Shravan Karthik, Alissa Tsai, NoĂ  Samarelli, Erika Storvick, Gabriel Seymour, Elise Liu, Yorán Meijers, and Hod Lipson teamed up. The group published its perspective on Tuesday in an open-access article titled “The future of software-controlled cooking.”

In their experiment, the scientists created the following seven-ingredient cake. “To our knowledge, [this] is a record-setting number of ingredients in a single printed food product,” the scientists wrote.

All the ingredients used in this cake were bought at a convenience store in New York. These included Skippy peanut butter, Smucker’s jam, Nutella chocolate spread, Betty Crocker frosting, Krasdale cherry drizzle, and a hand-mashed banana for easy dispensing out of a nozzle.

3d print

npj Science of Food | ISSN 2396-8370

“With the continual evolution of digital technologies, laser cooking, and 3D food printing may present nutritious, convenient, and cost-effective cooking opportunities,” the abstract of the report reads.

This technology won’t eliminate the need for chefs — not yet, anyway. However, the scientists working on the experiment believe using software to combine and cook ingredients could allow chefs to control the meal’s nutrient content much more quickly, making it easier to create healthier meal options.

Less human food handling also means a lower risk of contamination and disease transmission. In addition, digital cooking could soon become the norm, and researchers predict these cooking devices have the potential to be staples in restaurants and homes.

The good, the bad, and the ugly

When it emerged in the 1980s, 3D printing technology was mainly reserved for printing out certain materials only — metal, plastic, rubber, and concrete, among other things. But over the decades, 3D printing tech has flourished.

The Columbia University paper on digital cooking notes that the study of other potential uses for 3D printing is rapidly growing to include customized medicines and even human organs.

But food created using laser would have to be categorized as “processed.” Consumers increasingly lean towards a more transparent, natural, and climate-conscious diet. However, scientists say processed foods leave a considerable carbon footprint, particularly during the packaging and shipment stages.

Would you eat a 3D-printed dessert that’s been cooked by lasers? Let us know in the comments. 🍰

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