Throughout the 20th century innovations such as the microwave and electric heater made cooking simpler and more accessible than ever before. No longer was putting a meal together an art, and some meals could now be heated in just a few minutes.
These advances meant that the next generation of food technology (foodtech) innovations weren’t prioritized; people were satisfied with what they had for the time being. However, now we are seeing a brand new wave of food innovations, including food 3D printers that can create meals from scratch in minutes. These extraordinary machines have some interesting advantages over traditional cooking tools, as described below.
- 1 The Best Food 3D Printer
Benefits of a food 3D printer and 3D printed food
- Better for the environment. 3D printed food materials can be created from alternative proteins like algae, leaves, and even insects, which are ground into a paste ready to be 3D printed. These ingredients otherwise would not be used, and are a form of protein and nutrients which may be key to future diets.
- Increased food customization. Though everybody’s food is already arguably customized, it isn’t to the level that food 3D printers offer. Not only can you create and pick the exact ingredients you want, but you can also create custom shapes and geographies that you want your food to occupy. Want a rabbit-shaped chocolate bar? Or an emoji-shaped burger? Easy. 3D printers conquer conquer the first three dimensions for you, saving you the fourth dimension – time.
- Saves time & stress. 3D food printers can automate the boring and repetitive kitchen tasks for you so you don’t need to do them. Simple tasks such as presentation and laying out of ingredients can be done by the food printer, and if you are creating food from pastes then you don’t need to chop those ingredients up yourself.
The Best Food 3D Printer
We have created our list of the 7 best 3D food printers based on a number of criteria. These include price-performance ratio, speed, amount of materials available, print volume, among others.
These are not ranked in order, but instead we have included all the food 3D printers we felt were worthy of inclusion. If there are are food printers we haven’t included that you feel we should have, let us know in the comments!
Natural Machines Foodini
- Country based: Spain.
- Food 3D printer price: $4,000.
- Print volume: 250 x 165 x 120 mm.
One of the most well-known food 3D printers out there, the Foodini is a food 3D printer breaking barriers left, right and center in the foodtech sector. Foodini, made by Spanish firm Natural Machines, recognize that though cooking is an enjoyable process for many, there are many tasks that could be automated. The Foodini food 3D printer was therefore created to streamline the repetitive tasks which are time consuming and difficult to do by hand.
Foodini is a versatile food 3D printer, able to print pizza, spaghetti, and even burgers. It’s glowing reviews led to fairly wide use in restaurants, like the byFlow Focus has similarly achieved. Restaurants which use the Foodini include London’s Food Ink restaurant, the entirely 3D printed restaurant, as well as La Endeca at Hotel Arts, in Barcelona.
Overall, the price is steep, but this is because of how advanced the Foodini is. It’s less of a cooking tool for use within homes and more of an industrial tool for professional kitchens, but this doesn’t make it any less of an incredible foodtech achievement.
- Country based: Netherlands.
- Food 3D printer price: €3,300.
- Print volume: 208 x 228 x 150 mm.
The byFlow Focus is a sleekly designed food 3D printer with a surprisingly wide reach in businesses around the world. Unlike most fanciful and futuristic machines that seem like they won’t see wide adoption for twenty plus years, the byFlow Focus is a 3D food printer which is already used in a number of restaurants and businesses.
Part of the reason is due to its reliability and ease of use. It can take a multitude of different 3D food printer materials, and switching them round is quick and easy. What’s more, you can even add your own recipes to the machine to 3D print with the ingredients you enjoy most. This allows you all the freedom you need to print any chocolate, pastry, or other 3D printed food dish you like, and byFlow even have over 50 downloadable 3D designs for free on their website.
As a result, businesses such as B2B chocolatier Barry Callebaut giant use byFlow Focus food 3D printers, as well as well-reputed chef Jan Smink in his ‘Restaurant Smink’ restaurant.
Choc Edge Choc Creator 2.0 Plus
- Country based: UK / China.
- Food 3D printer price: €2,330.
- Print volume: 180 x 180 x 40 mm.
Originally based out of a uni campus, Choc Edge is now thriving as a leading food 3D printer manufacturer. The Anglo-Chinese chocolate 3D printer company have been round for over a decade and their third food 3D printer, the Choc Creator 2.0 Plus, is a picturesque and innovative machine. Though it prints edible objects, the Choc Creator still utilizes the same layer-by-layer method as with Fused Deposition Modeling. Retailing at just under $3,000, it’s a great option for niche bakers and chocolatiers out there.
A few reasons why the Choc Edge Choc Creator 2.0 Plus is an industry leader are firstly how easy it is to use. The chocolate 3D printer features a large and responsive touchscreen for easy access and printing. The 0.8mm nozzle is easily removed and changed based on the 3D food material used, with the 30ml metal syringe just as easy to replace. Overall, it’s a one of the best chocolate 3D printer machines on the market, and prints in the same way as your average FDM 3D printer.
Mmuse Chocolate 3D Printer
- Country based: China.
- Food 3D printer price: $5,200.
- Print volume: 160 x 120 x 150 mm.
Another chocolate 3D printer and the most expensive one of its kind on our list, the Mmuse is a food 3D printer that looks like something out of the matrix. It’s futuristic and beautiful, selling itself as a chocolate making experience, not just a 3D printer. It’s fast too, able to print between 30 and 60 mm/s of delicious 3D printed chocolate.
There’s a reason for the high price. The Mmuse chocolate 3D printer is designed to be as convenient as possible to operate, so you can 3D print food via WiFi, USB stick, or even an SD card. The beautiful touchscreen on the Mmuse makes printing a breeze, and features a strong aluminium shell. Mmuse also claim it utilizes an ‘intelligent temperature control technology’, allowing it to 3D print chocolate at the perfect temperature so the chocolate prints as smoothly and evenly as possible. If you’ve got the money and you love chocolate enough, this may be the one for you.
Pancakebot 2.0 Food 3D Printer
- Country based: Norway.
- Food 3D printer price: $300.
- Print volume: 445 x 210 x 15 mm.
One of the funnest and quirkiest food 3D printers on our list, the Pancakebot 2.0 is a cheap and cheerful option at just $300. Since the original Pancakebot raised almost half a million dollars on Kickstarter, the company has gone from strength to strength with the release of the Pancake 2.0.
A real maker’s tool, the Pancakebot was created when inventor Miguel Valenzuela was reading Make magazine and discovered a pancake-stamping machine made from Lego. Inspired, he set to work creating his own version. Further brainstorming and tinkering led to another prototype which drew the plaudits at Maker Faire, and the Pancakebot was born.
As long as you keep within the height maximum of 15mm, there are almost no shape limitations for your pancake creations. The Pancakebot food 3D printer comes with its Pancake Painter 3D software which allows you to create any shape you want to eat! Overall, it’s great fun and nowhere as near as expensive as some of the options on this list.
Createbot 2.0 Food Printer
- Country based: China.
- Food 3D printer price: $2,349.
- Print volume: 150 x 150 x 100 mm.
A very interesting food 3D printer, the Createbot 2.0 is another food printer on our list designed and manufactured in China. Retailing at around $2,350, it’s between desktop and industrial levels, and has a fairly decent build volume at 150 x 150 x 100 mm.
One of the most interesting aspects of this food 3D printer is how versatile the material options are, depending on what food you wish to create. Createbot themselves offer food printer materials such as biscuit, chocolate, lotus seed paste, red and green bean pastes, and many more. What’s more, it prints quickly at between 20 and 30 mm/s, so you won’t be waiting long for your delicious treats.
3D Systems ChefJet & ChefJet Pro Food 3D Printer
- Country based: USA.
- Food 3D printer price: $5,000 & $10,000.
- Print volume: 203 x 203 x 203 mm.
The ChefJet food 3D printer created by industrial 3D printer giant 3D Systems is an unfortunate case.
3D Systems bought Sugar Labs in 2013, suggesting there may be movements from the American company in the foodtech sector in the future. Then, when they announced and demonstrated the ChefJet Food 3D Printer throughout 2014 and 2015, people couldn’t wait to get their hands on this incredible piece of tech. It could make 3D food structures out of sugar with flavours including chocolate, vanilla, mint, sour apple, cherry, watermelon, and even more!
But it wasn’t to be. Some internal friction within the company meant that the project was put on hold for several years. Then in late 2017, 3D Systems announced a partnership with CSM Bakery Solutions to create and distribute the food 3D printers along with custom-made food 3D printer material.
Therefore, though the ChefJet 3D printer isn’t out yet, we still felt it was worthy of its place on this list as it will get a release soon, and has demonstrated its ability to 3D print food. We look forward to seeing how far the ChefJet and ChefJet Pro can push 3D printed food in the future. The ChefJet is to retail at $5,000, whilst the ChefJet Pro will retail at $10,000.