byFlow: 3D Print Your Food

While it still isn’t the magical replicators envisioned in the sci-fi series Star Trek, Dutch startup byFlow has found an alternative use for 3D printers: food. Going beyond printing plastic figurines, a canal house, or concrete bridges, byFlow’s printer can create ingredients for tasty dishes as well as complete meals. From chocolate to beef.

The company from the Netherlands is part of High Tech Campus Eindhoven. byFlow started in 2009 as a regular 3D printing company and later specialized in 3D printers for food. What makes their product unique is that their printer is compact, portable,  easy to use and maintain – referring to themselves as the Apple of the 3D printing world.

Why 3D print your food?

With a growing world population, there is an urgent need for sustainable, safe and healthy food. Moreover, consumers demand their food to be nutritious, personalized and traceable.

byFlow’s 3D Food Printer makes it possible to create premade food with recycled ingredients that are not good enough to be sold in supermarkets - and are normally thrown away - but are still usable as a food source, like damaged fruits and vegetables.

Print food for healthcare sector

Not many people realize that printing food can be an important part of the healthcare sector. Elderly people sometimes have problems swallowing their food. They are normally fed with nutrition shakes,  and drinks that contain the necessary nutritional ingredients they need in liquid form. However, people tend to forget that the act of eating (chewing, digestion, etc.) is an important process for human health. byFlow’s 3D printers make it possible to create good looking and tasty dishes containing fresh nutritional ingredients ‘The ingredients have to be a paste-like material so it’s easy to swallow, but can be printed again in the shape of a tomato or a carrot. Even meat-printing is possible’, says byFlow’s Nina Hoff.

Create impossible shapes

Another interesting – and fun – feature of 3D printing is that it is possible to create shapes that would be normally impossible to make by hand, with materials that are normally tough to use in a 3D printing environment - like chocolate.  Through social media customers share their dishes by making the designs available for others to download.