Columbia University Makes Sci Fi Pizza with 3D Printers, Lasers

The Columbia University Engineering Department is up to their usual high tech hijinx, this time assembling pizza to specification using 3D printers and cooking them with lasers.

Moving away from the traditional hand-crafted, brick or gas deck oven approach, Columbia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science has developed a process to create and cook pizza to precise specifications using advanced technology.

Retrofitting a CNC machine with an extrusion (printing) and heating (laser) mechanism, they are able to inject different ingredients onto the miniature pizza in precise patterns. The ingredient tubes (i.e. dough, sauce, cheese, etc.) can be swapped out for others (e.g. different cheeses), and the same procedure can be run to create a different pizza.

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One of the major benefits of 3D printing pizza and food in general is the ability to automatically customize ingredients, with a theoretical host of nutritional ingredients in tube form awaiting robotic selection.  In this way, there could be an app that stores or tracks their nutritional habits and restrictions, which could link to one of these machines when it’s time for your meal to be made. Different nutritional supplements and other flavor elements could be precision-injected into your otherwise normal meal based on preferences and health needs.  Ingredients could also be swapped out for non-allergenic substitutes based on dietary restrictions.

The high precision of the laser cooking method also “allows for the combination of food ingredients at a much closer level, giving rise to new flavor profiles and inventive food recipes that would be more challenging to achieve using conventional cooking methods,”  according to the Columbia researchers.

While 3D printing food is still a relatively new field, a lot of investment and research is being poured into it, with applications ranging from hospitals to the International Space Station.  For the time being, though, your primary source of ‘za will most likely be your corner slice spot.

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David Cunningham

David Cunningham

Contributor
David Cunningham is a blogger and software developer living in the Upper West Side. He loves writing, running around Riverside Park, shopping at Fairway and Zabar’s, and working on web apps in his free time. He moved to New York in 2018 after spending five years working as a developer in Huntsville, Alabama (the home of Space Camp). He is currently building a tech blog platform called Dabbling In, and you can learn more about him at his website, cunningdj.com

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