The world of the future is kind of unfathomable at this point when it comes to normalizing 3D-printed food, but the Creative Machines Lab at Columbia Engineering have done it -- 3D-printed chicken with lasers. Check it out:
The video explains it all -- they've used real chicken and grinded it up to be used by a 3D printer in a very, very intricate way. This 3D-printed chicken can be put in any manner of patterns, and then with a combination of 3 lasers it is cooked with what is promised with incredible results.
3D-printed chicken cooked with lasers is twice as moist as conventionally cooked chicken, as well as shrinking half as much as regularly-cooked chicken while retaining its flavors. You can also use the various lasers to do different things to the chicken such as higher surface-level browning, broiling, and more. The laser was even capable of browning the chicken through the packaging... scary (lasers through plastic into chicken) but impressive.
The team at Columbia Engineering cooked up two different chickens -- one through regular conventional oven-cooked, the other with the 3D-printer and lasers. They served them up to two taste tesers, where both preferred the laser-cooked chicken. This is a small sample size of testers, so it would be good to see a few thousand or more testing it and giving their thoughts.
I don't think it's for me, and my initial worries of it being cooked through the plastic seem warranted in the fact that one of the testers said he tasted a metallic taste from the laser-cooked chicken. He told researchers: "Ever go to the dentist and get fillings done? They have a laser they use to seal the fillings and you get that smell-a little bit of an industry odor, a sharpness that you don't get with normal chicken".
That doesn't sound -- and I'm sure it'll taste even worse -- nice at all.
Jonathan Blutinger, co-author on the paper, said: "We noted that, while printers can produce ingredients to a millimeter-precision, there is no heating method with this same degree of resolution".
"Cooking is essential for nutrition, flavor, and texture development in many foods, and we wondered if we could develop a method with lasers to precisely control these attributes." The researchers used a blue diode laser (5-10 W) as the primary heating source but also experimented with lasers in the near- and mid-infrared for comparison, as well as a conventional toaster oven".
The authors explain in the paper: "Millimeter-scale precision allows printing and cooking a burger that has a level of done-ness varying from rare to well-done in a lace, checkerboard, gradient, or other custom pattern".
"Heat from a laser can also cook and brown foods within a sealed package... [which] could significantly increase their shelf life by reducing their microbial contamination, and has great commercial applications for packaged to-go meals at the grocery store, for example".
In future research, the researchers at the Creative Machines Lab at Columbia Engineering said they will test multiple laser wavelengths to unlock the ability of internal and external cooking, simultaneously. On top of that, they'll try to work out a way to reduce cross-contamination between the cooked and raw printed layers of chicken.
Software will also be created to help users make their own 3D-printed meals in the future. Lipson continued, adding: "What we still don't have is what we call 'Food CAD,' sort of the Photoshop of food. We need a high-level software that enables people who are not programmers or software developers to design the foods they want. And then we need a place where people can share digital recipes, like we share music".
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