If there’s still any doubt that 3D printing can be our best friend in technological progress, let it be washed away with these three words — 3D printed pizza.
The development of 3D printed foods has caught a lot of people’s attention lately, including 3D printing meat and chocolate. But the concept of a 3D printed pizza is a lot more complicated than one might think, given its relative complexity of ingredients and massive variety of styles compared to most foods.
See also: our ranking of the best food 3D printers.
We also have a ranking of the best chocolate 3D printers.
With efficiency, cleanliness, and, of course, taste being the main priorities of those looking to bring 3D printed pizzas to the masses, it’s interesting to see the advancements in technology that can bring us our favorite foods in a matter of minutes.
From start-ups to NASA, we’re going to look at some of the most promising breakthroughs in 3D printing pizza, amongst other foods, and how close we are to printing one of the world’s favorite foods in our own homes.
Why 3D Printed Pizza?
There are so many different kinds of food, and even more subtypes, so why have innovators taken to 3D printed pizza as a focus? The answer is simple, pizzas are layered!
Unlike other foods that come as a mix of many ingredients, all prepared at different times or needing stirring, mashing, melding, and frothing, pizza is naturally a set of base ingredients layered on top of each other.
Because 3D printing involves depositing materials — called filaments — this makes pizza perhaps the best food to make with 3D printing, not to mention how their customizability make the delicious discs a universal love.
The Benefits of 3D Printed Pizza
3D printed pizzas can also have a beneficial impact on our carbon footprint. The ingredients involved in 3D printing pizzas have a long shelf life, and even commercially they are only ever printed to order.
3D printed foods can cater to almost any taste, too. The ingredients can be made to suit meat lovers, vegetarians, and vegans as required with little more than a flick of a switch and a care to avoid cross-contamination.
This means that there is significantly less wastage making 3D printed pizzas compared with traditional baking, which involves ingredients that need to be thrown out much sooner if they aren’t used. Many of the ingredients can be made from plentiful and sustainable proteins from plants and even insects!
Advances in 3D printed pizzas and other foods can also bring nutrition to the less fortunate. Further advances in 3D printed food technology further cuts the production costs, making the food far more affordable.
Are There Other 3D Printed Foods?
3D printed pizzas may be the most popular of the 3D printed foods around, but they are far from the only food being worked on. From ice cream and candy to burgers and steaks, 3D printed food has seen some exciting developments in recent years.
Companies like BeeHex have found a niche in creating 3D printers for dessert baking and cake decoration, and XYZPrinting have debuted a 3D printer that can make a batch of cookies in just over 15 minutes.
3D printing has also opened doors for vegetarian and vegan cuisine via the advancement of 3D printed synthetic meat. This means the likes of steaks and burgers as well as pizza toppings can be made with 3D printing for meat-eaters and vegans alike.
In 2018, Starbucks even had a limited run of 3D printed ice cream in a wide variety of flavors.
Even more recently, in 2021 Polaroid launched their CandyPlay, a 3D pen that you can use to draw free-hand sweets or make edible sculptures just like those made with a standard 3D pen!
As you can see, it’s not just 3D printed pizzas that have the technological wizards of the culinary industry buzzing!
Beehex’s Chef 3D – 3D Printed Pizza in Space?
Let’s face it, no one becomes an astronaut for the food. While these days a space explorer’s diet is similar to that we have on earth, some of the simplest culinary pleasures we enjoy today are simply not feasible in space.
In 2016, NASA took initiative against food-related boredom by funding the now self-titled ‘NASA spin-off company’ Beehex. With a grant of $125,000 to create a machine that could 3D print pizzas in space, Beehex developed the Chef 3D, which is capable of 3D printing a raw 12-inch pizza in under a minute.
Through a crowdfunding campaign that earned a $1,000,000 dollar backing, the Chef 3D became the flagship of the company, and was even being considered for widespread commercial use. The marketability of its cleanliness, speed, and efficiency has sparked interest all over the culinary world.
The Chef 3D is also self-cleaning and produces it 3D printed pizzas on the cheap, costing only around $8 per print. While it is to-date limited to only automatically printing the classic margherita, further developments in 3D printed food could see us having our own meat feasts and Hawaiians before too long!
Though it may yet be a little while before complicated pizzas and stuffed crusts can be fully made with 3D printing, it’s easy to see why a lot of people are so excited to get a 3D printed pizza of their own.
The approximate baking time for Beehex’s 3D printed pizzas is only five minutes in a standard oven, meaning that from the moment printing starts, you’re only a maximum of seven minutes away from chowing down.
Today, Beehex prides itself on being the leaders in autonomous bakery and cooking equipment, and has seen great success in its four short years.
As well as NASA, Beehex works with the U.S. Army, the Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT), and Donatos; an Ohio-based pizza delivery company with a venue in the Smithsonian National Air and Space museum.
Despite their relatively short active years so far, Beehex foresees great things for the automated culinary industry, and their work on bringing 3D printed pizzas to the public is only just getting started.
Foodini – 3D Printed Pizza at Home
Beehex may be the company on everyone’s radar for their high-profile development in 3D printed food, but they weren’t the first to dabble in the intriguing art of 3D printed pizzas.
Natural Machine’s ‘Foodini’ was a 3D printer that used stainless steel extruders and a bio-safe process to make all kinds of foods, including 3D printed pizzas. It had a limited run back in 2014/2015, but the technology itself is rife for re-use and repurposing into newer machines that could have them as regular household appliances before too long.
Much like the Chef 3D, the 3D printed pizzas created with the Foodini were only capable of simple tomato and cheese, with any other toppings needed to be added manually before the pizza itself goes in the oven.
XYZPrinting Pizza Printer
XYZPrinting’s mantra of making 3D printing affordable to both businesses and private consumers was not to be left out of the 3D printed food market.
The Taiwanese company publicly displayed their 3D food printer during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The 3D printed pizzas created with their multi-purpose food printer were reportedly delicious, and was made with the same machine that was designed to make cookies and decorate cakes in any shape.
XYZ’s entry into the 3D printed food market doesn’t seem to have seen the light of day since its debut, they have maintained their status as sellers of affordable 3D printers and 3D printer accessories for both companies and individual consumers.