Cooking moves from the stovetop to the desktop

8 November 2014 by Steve Blum
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I was about to say that food is the new killer app for 3D printing, but maybe that’s not the best way to put it. It does look like a Mac Plus, though.

How about printing out your dinner? That’s what Natural Machines wants you to do with the Foodini, a 3D printer designed to handle food ingredients and turn out complex meals.

Assuming the Foodini works – which includes being easy to clean – it’s something that could find an eager market. Consumers like to cook from scratch, and make food that’s interesting and attractive, as well as being tasty.

The Foodini is the kind of product that’ll appeal to people who are more limited by time than money, so setting it up needs to be relatively straightforward. I’m wondering exactly how much work is involved in preparing the ingredients, but that’s also an opportunity for Natural Machines or their partners. If you can go to a website, click on what you want to make in a day or two, and the ingredients show up at your house ready to go, then you can be a gourmet cook with little effort.

People want to make things for themselves, but they have increasingly less time to spend on doing it, let alone acquiring the necessary skills. Eating and preparing, or at least assembling, what we eat is universal, though. Make it easy to do it in interesting and creative ways, and people will jump on it.

And it doesn’t have to be cheap to begin with. The benchmark for product and category adoption of this sort is desktop publishing. Once it was possible to buy a Macintosh Plus and a laser printer for a few thousand dollars, people started jumping on it. Prices have come down, and the category has only grown. The Foodini has the same kind of potential.