UK Company Dovetailed Unveils Amazing 3D Fruit Printer

by Abdul Rehman on June 22, 2014

3D Printed Fruit on SpoonRecently, 3D printing has amazed the world by printing real edible foods.

We’ve already told you about NASA’s 3D Printed Pizzas and a California couple’s Printed Sugar Sculptures.

Today, we’re going to tell you about another very tasty invention: A 3D fruit printer.

Coming from a UK Based Company Called Dovetailed, this printer is capable of printing not only edible fruit resembling the fruit that we’re used to but can also create novel fruit with new flavors and shapes.

Being the first of its kind, this printer takes additive food printing to a whole new level and opens up new prospects in the field of cooking for both chefs and amateurs.

The 3D Fruit Printer

On 24th May 2014, as the Tech Food Hack, an experimental dining hackathon at Cambridge UK, began, people were amazed to see the latest innovations in food technology. However, one invention caught everyone’s eye like none other. It was a fruit printer developed by the collaboration Dovetailed, a UK-based design studio and innovation lab, and Microsoft Research Cambridge.

This machine is capable of producing fruit-like objects by using a molecular gastronomy technique called spherification. Through this process, fruit of any desired shape and flavor can be created. Flavors of different fruits can even be combined into a single fruit!

This invention is aimed not only at professional chefs but also at amateur cooks and lay people like us, who want to be creative with their dishes or who simply want to enjoy the latest that food technology has to offer.

Spherification: From Juice to Fruit

You’re probably wondering how the fruit printer works and what kind of raw materials are required to print fruit. Well, as already mentioned, it uses a molecular gastronomy technique called spherification. Liquid droplets of a fruit juice are taken and combined with one another to form a solid fruit.

Here’s how the process of spherification works:

Fruit Making MachineThe fruit printer is actually more of a mixer than a printer. It takes fruit juice, which act as its raw material, and combines it with sodium alginate. Then, it pours out this mixture, drop by drop, into a cold solution of calcium chloride. In the calcium chloride solution, chemical reactions combine the droplets in such a way that a solid coating forms around them.

By changing the placement of the drops (through the printer’s software) in the solution, we can change the shape of the fruit and by changing the fruit juice fed to the printer, we can modify the flavor of the printed fruit.

The whole process of printing a single fruit from scratch is very quick, taking a few minutes at most! The result is a lot like a balloon filled with water; the fruit juice inside is contained within a thin flexible skin of solid material. The thin solid layer cracks in the mouth, releasing the fruit juice and giving the same taste that we get when we eat real fruit.

Of course, this process has its limits. One of these is that it can’t exactly create a real apple or a banana. It can simply contain the taste of their juices within a solid skin. Dovetailed is working to improve its fruit printer so that its printed fruit is closer to real fruit.

To better understand the process, I suggest that you Watch a Video of the Process on YouTube and Dovetailed Vimeo Channel.

Advantages and Future Prospects

So, how will this invention change our lives? Well, first, it will allow anyone to print fruit at their homes. Although it probably won’t threaten the fruit market any time soon, it’s safe to say that food enthusiasts throughout the world will grasp this opportunity to create new, delicious and creative dishes. Dr. Vaiva Kalnikaite, founder of Dovetailed, explains these prospects in the following words:

“We have been thinking of making this for a while. It’s such an exciting time for us as an innovation lab. Our 3D fruit printer will open up new possibilities not only to professional chefs but also to kitchens in our home – allowing us to enhance and expand our dining experiences. We have re-invented the concept of fresh fruit on demand.”

The great thing about Dovetailed fruit printer is that one doesn’t have to be an expert chef or a learned scientist to be able to use the printer. All one has to do is push a few buttons and he’ll have new fruit printed in no time. So, this isn’t just for chefs but for everyone.

The ability to create new kinds of fruit by combining the juices of different fruits is very intriguing and will appeal a lot to food enthusiasts. We might take a single bite from a printed fruit and taste the flavors of mango, banana and pineapple all at once. The chief inventor at Dovetailed, Dr. Gabriel Villar, says:

“With our novel printing technique, you can not only re-create existing fruits, but also invent your own creations. The taste, texture, size and shape of the fruit can all be customized.”

So, the fruit printer from Dovetailed provides a quicker and more creative alternative to the fruit that we see today. While there are several limitations to the process, these limitations will soon be overcome.

Additive printing has taken the world by storm. There just doesn’t seem to be any limit to what can be printed. This fruit printer from Dovetailed proves this fact. A great cooking tool for professional chefs and a delicious hobby for lay people, there is little doubt that, in the future, it will replace our fruit and we’ll be seeing fruit printers, instead of natural fruit, in our fruit markets. It is certainly a day worth waiting for.

Do you like this fruit printer? Will you buy one? What kind of fruit will you print? Do tell us in the comments section. Also, share it with your friends and then check out our article on 3D Printed Chocolate.

Thanks for reading.

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