Have you ever been playing a game or watching a movie where a character eats or drinks some fantastical item and you think to yourself, "I wonder what that tastes like."? Well in the near future, you may not have to wonder anymore. 3D printing has come a long way from its infant stages of barely printing out plastic shapes. Now we can print high fidelity prototypes for motorcycles, human organs, and even chocolate shapes.
Printing food is just the next step. We can already print 3D objects using chocolate as the filament. There are also pancake printers and candy extruders! People can already print meat as well! Imagine a future where printers can simply take a recipe from off the Internet and print the food for you!
Already, scientists from the Meiji University in Tokyo Japan have created a device which they call the Norimaki Synthesizer. This device is able to use the five basic tastes that our tongues can detect and produce them at whatever levels are necessary to trick the tongue into tasting whatever flavor you want. The researchers liken it to how RGB LEDs trick our eyes into seeing images on a screen, these 5 "taste emitting diodes" trick the tongue as well! And they have had success producing many different flavors already! This research is laying the groundwork for how to accurately and precisely calculate how much of each taste is necessary to replicate any taste you might find on planet Earth.
Combining this research with the field of 3D printing, the results are limitless! Imagine just putting flavor cartridges and a material cartridge into the printer, loading a recipe from the Internet and then in 30 minutes you have a 5-star quality lasagna sitting in your printer! This technology hasn't been created yet, but the pieces are slowly coming together, and material and taste science are closer than ever to achieving this great goal.
Maybe soon you will be able to finally taste that delicious Butterbeer from Harry Potter!
keywords: material science, digital fabrication, 3D printing, food science, taste science