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A 3D

A new generation kitchen appliance that combines technology, food, art and design. free


Topic: Machine

Q: What exactly are you developing at Natural Machines?

Our launch product is a 3D food printer. We call it Foodini. We are using an open capsule model, meaning the consumer prepares and places fresh ingredients in Foodini. Natural Machines is going to make preparing food healthier, easier, and so much fun.

Q: Why would anyone want to 3D print food? What recipes are suitable for 3D printing? Do you have examples?

Today, too many people eat too much convenience foods, processed foods, packaged 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. Enter Foodini. 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, you automate some of the assembly or finishing steps of home cooking, thus making it easier to create freshly made meals and snacks.

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. Let Foodini do it for you. Simply load the dough and filling into Foodini, and Foodini 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... Foodini does it for you: less mess in your kitchen; more time to do other things. Plus, have fun! Make the ravioli into different shapes and sizes. After Foodini is done, put the ravioli in boiling water to cook, or, for a modern twist, bake them in the oven.

Or take an example of crunchy, savory snacks: chips, breadsticks, crackers, etc. Don't buy pre-package versions that are shelf-stable for years, with preservatives and usually too much salt, etc. With Foodini, you can make your own versions of these convenience foods people have grown accustom to, but creating healthier versions made with fresh ingredients.

Q: What are the benefits of using Foodini? What is the best thing about Foodini? What is Foodini's main purpose? Why would anyone use Foodini?

Foodini is a new generation kitchen appliance promoting cooking with fresh ingredients. Whether it’s in a home kitchen or a restaurant. It's getting people to eat less pre-processed food.

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 its simple handmade meals or snacks, or intricately presented crafted food. And it makes food fun!

Q: Could you explain in simple steps how Foodini works?

Foodini is a connected device, meaning it's connected to the Internet. It 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.

Q: What is the smallest possible layer thickness Foodini can print?

The smallest possible layer thickness is dependent on the food that is printing. The smallest nozzle size we are using at the moment is 1.5mm. With this, for example, we can print very thin crackers. 

Q: What is the cleaning process? Is it difficult to clean?

Foodini is designed so that the most of the moving parts are hidden. This not only gives the look of a clean, sleek looking kitchen appliance, but it also makes sure the food goes where we want it to in the machine... that is, in the capsules and on the glass plate. If food does get on the walls of the inside of the machine, it's very easy to just wipe it down with a damp cloth or sponge. The capsules and glass plate can be put in the dishwasher or hand-washed, and the capsules are designed to come apart in certain sections for easy cleaning. For example, the nozzle comes apart from the capsule body.

We don't like kitchen appliances that are hard to clean, and we're sure you don't either. So we are very determined to design Foodini to be as easy to clean as possible.

Q: Are the capsules re-usable? What are they made of? Are they easy to clean?

Foodini ships with empty capsules that are re-usable. We are making them out of stainless steel or BPA-free plastic. The nozzle comes apart from the capsule, making it very easy to clean either in a dishwasher or by hand.

Q: What is the difference between Foodini and the other 3d printers? What modifications or innovations does it have as a machine? What makes Foodini unique?

Foodini is the first real food 3D printer that prints a wide range of foods, both savory and sweet. It uses real food. Fresh food. That's different than all other 3D printers. From the day we started Foodini, we built it to be a food appliance. Meaning, it's made from food-grade/safe materials.

There aren't many food printers, but the few we know focus on a small amount of printable ingredients... printers focused on chocolate only or sugar only, for example. With the open capsule model, you aren't limited to the number of ingredients used. This allows us to accommodate for a wide range of tastes.

Also unique is the physical design of the product. The machine is sleek, and most of the technical moving parts are cleverly hidden from view. People will be proud to have Foodini on a kitchen counter, both from the physical design as well as the functionality. This is very different than most 3D printers on the market. And with room for up to 5 food capsules, consumers don’t have to manually change out the food capsules for different ingredients when printing.

Q: What are your hopes for Foodini?

We hope that Foodini will encourage more people to eat healthier, fresher foods... whether it’s in their homes or in a restaurant. There are too many processed and “convenience” foods in the market, many with ingredients that are unidentifiable to the common consumer. Foodini can help replicate these convenience foods that people have become accustom to, but making them with fresh ingredients. And taking it a step further, Foodini can help craft/present food into shapes that would be difficult by hand... this makes food fun!

Topic: Timings, Price, Availability

Q: When is Foodini available for customers to buy?

We are on schedule for an early access/ pre-series limited production run by the end of this year (2014), and a mass production run in the first half of next year.

Q: How much will Foodini cost?

We anticipate the price to be around €1,000 (which is approximately $1,300 or £830). This is equivalent to, for example, a high-end food processor, and on the lower side of the price scale for a 3D printer.

Q: Where can I buy Foodini?

Foodini will be sold on the Internet and with select distributors & stores (to be announced). 

Q: How long does it take to print something?

It depends on the ingredients, the recipe, and quantity you are printing.Some things print very fast in a matter of minutes (e.g., flatter type foods like crackers, simple plate decorations), while other things take longer times (e.g., intricate chocolate sculptures can take 20 minutes to print.)

Quantities also have to be taken into consideration. For example, a small, single serving of ravioli will print faster than quantity to feed a family of 4.

Topic: Ingredients & Recipes

Q: How does it work in terms of ingredients? Does Natural Machines supply the ingredients for the printer, or does the user make them? Do I have to buy food capsules from Natural Machines?

We are using an open capsule model, meaning the consumer prepares and places ingredients in Foodini. Consumers are not forced to buy pre-packaged food capsules specifically for Foodini.

As an added ease of use for consumers, we are looking into working with retailers that can prepare pre-packaged food capsules made freshly in-store as an alternative option for consumers. Imagine going to a store, picking up a 5 capsule pack of ravioli ingredients pre-made in the store using fresh ingredients, going home and popping them into Foodini to print.

Q: I want to make my own ingredients for Foodini. How do I prepare the ingredients?

You can prepare the ingredients by hand, or with the help of a hand-held blender, a countertop blender, a food processor, or other similar device. All ingredients can be prepared by hand, but machines (blenders, etc.) could make the process faster and easier, depending on the ingredient.

Q: Do you have plans to also sell capsules pre-filled with food?

As an added ease of use for consumers, we are looking into working with retailers that can prepare pre-packaged food capsules made freshly in-store as an alternative option for consumers. Imagine going to a store, picking up a 5 capsule pack of ravioli ingredients pre-made in the store using fresh ingredients, going home and popping them into Foodini to print.

We are also working with food manufacturers to produce pre-filled food capsules, using no or very little natural preservatives.

There are also benefits to making your own ingredients and filling the empty capsules that come with Foodini, of course. You can use fresh foods with no preservatives or additives, adjust flavors exactly to your tastes, and know exactly what is in your food.

Q: What kind of materials or ingredients does it work with? What foods can you make with Foodini?

Some examples of food we have printed: pastas (ravioli, gnocchi, spaghetti, ...), burgers (veggie and meat), chicken nuggets (and chickpea nuggets as a vegetarian alternative), quiche, pizza, “designer” fish & chips, hash browns, cookies, crackers, brownies, chocolate, etc.

We also have a lot of interest from chefs that want to make intricately designed foods with Foodini. This is where the shaping capabilities of Foodini come into play.

Q: What texture does the food have to have in order to print? Is the texture an important aspect when preparing food to print?

The texture of the food put into the capsules has to be of a certain consistency. Take a tomato sauce as an example. It can’t be too watery; otherwise it will drip or free-flow out of the capsule. It can’t be overly chunky; otherwise it will clog up the nozzle and won’t print.

We plan on having a short list of recipes that we will recommend people to print in order to become familiar with how Foodini works and the textures that can be used. After that, people can start playing with different food textures on their own, similar to how people play with food processors after they get the hang of how to use it.

Q: Why are some things are part printed and part completed by hand? In your pizza recipe, the dough and sauce are printed, and then the cheese, spices and toppings are done by hand. Why?

We always ask ourselves before printing something if it's easier/faster/better to print it versus doing it by hand. Sprinkling some cheese and spices on a pizza is definitely faster by hand versus printing. Hence, our part printed/part hand made pizza. One of the reasons we decided to print only the dough and sauce is because those are the two most difficult parts of making a pizza by hand.

But of course, if you want to print the entire pizza using Foodini, you can... as long as the ingredients are of a Foodini-approved consistency.

Q: Do customers cook the ingredients first and then put them in Foodini? Can you eat the food directly after printing or does it need some more preparation before eating?

It depends on the recipe you are printing.

For example, if you are printing chocolate, it is edible at any stage of the process (you can safely eat the chocolate before and after printing.)

Other ingredients can be printed raw. For example, a meat-based hamburger can be printed using raw ingredients, and cooked after printing.

Q: Printable chocolate... is that real chocolate?

Printable chocolate is just normal chocolate that has been melted and re-shaped. We use different kinds of chocolates including dark, milk, white, sugar-free, etc. We use chocolates with different amounts of fat contents in order to achieve the best-printed results depending on the height and shape of the printed chocolate.

Q: How does the food taste?

The important thing to know with Foodini is that it uses fresh, real food. The user prepares fresh food to go in the capsules to print; it's not processed food. So, it's up to the user how the food will taste: fresh food in, fresh food out.

Topic: The Future

Q: What is the future of Food 3D Printing?

It’s going to keep getting better and better. We envision that 3D printing technology will continually evolve, so we will always be investing in research and development.

With food printing, for example, we believe additional textures of food will be suitable for printing, finer-tuned movements to shape food on a plate will be developed, and printing can become faster without losing quality of presentation.

Since Foodini is a connected device – meaning it’s connected to the Internet – we will provide software updates so our customers have the latest technology on their machines.

Q: What does 2014 have in store for Natural Machines? What is next?

A lot! It will be our product launch year, and Foodini will start appearing in kitchens in homes, restaurants and elsewhere. People can print with fresh foods using published recipes, or make and share their own food creations. We’re very excited!

We’re currently finalizing the details of Foodini and production details. We look forward to introducing a fun way to help people create fresh foods.