How 3D Printing Could Flip Fine Dining On Its Head

How 3D Printing Could Flip Fine Dining On Its Head

3D printing is a growing industry, make no mistake. It’s been edging its way into the food industry for a while, though often on the end of cheaper, fast-food-style meals. How could 3D printing affect the upper echelons of fine dining, and would it be worth making that change? 

3D printed dinner ware Joe Doucet


This might seem like a particular niche area to speak about, but I honestly believe that this could be the first big thing that fine dining circles turn to 3D printing to tackle. 


The first reason that I believe this might be the place that it will start is that cutlery is small and lightweight, it is designed to be that way for optimum ergonomics. Therefore, it will be cheaper and faster to 3D print, say, a spoon, then it would be to print a plate or a cheeseboard. Because of this price and time disparity compared to other restaurant objects, it seems like a likely place for 3D printing to enter the food industry. 


3d priced cutlery by Janne Kyttanen


The second reason that I believe this would be a good place for restaurants to experiment is that they are already experimenting with cutlery. Cutlery made from different materials can affect the way that we taste the food that we eat. For example, cutlery made from copper will affect the taste because ions from the copper of the fork will interact with ions in the food. If you were to eat a particularly acidic meal, the copper of your fork would interact with the food, creating a unique taste compared to eating with aluminium. Some restaurants out there serve with this in mind. For example, some restaurants serve with gold cutlery, as gold is non-reactive, and will not affect the taste of your food whatsoever. Therefore, with the use of a 3D printer, a restaurant could print some cutlery for you with a compound-specific to the meal that you order - enhancing the taste in an interesting way. 

Temperature-Oriented Utensils


As the materials that can be used for 3D printing increase and expand, it’s extremely likely that we will see the limits of these materials pushed. For example, if someone creates a printing compound that’s massively heat resistant, it will likely be used in brake pads or kitchenware. The point that I believe temperature-oriented tableware might come into the fray is relative to drinks. There are a lot of people out there who have particularly strong opinions about drinks, particularly cocktails, for instance. This is relevant to 3D printing as the options are limitless if only someone creates a compound ideal for printing a given utensil. For example, a compound that is an incredible insulator could be an interesting experience for hot or cold drinks. Drinking from a vessel that doesn’t match the temperature of the drink could be an interesting step in experiential dining. 


Of course, this doesn’t have to be limited to temperature-oriented materials. There are plenty of other variables you could control for - for example, colour or weight. The reason I selected temperature, though, is because it has cross-industry applications. That hypothetical insulator I mentioned for use as a drinking vessel could be ideal for creating energy-saving water heaters, for example. 



Finally, we come to accessibility. I believe that this would be an ideal place for 3D printing to go as it is an area where resources are slightly drying up. With the green revolution, a number of single-use items necessary for disabled people are now not being offered. The example that springs to mind, of course, is single-use plastic straws. While a restaurant cycling through a thousand straws in a month is obviously a terrible thing, having a 3D printer able to print exactly the number of straws you need is perfect for sustainability. You may only throw away a hundred straws, and they were all necessary ones. Plus, more sustainable 3D printing compounds are always being researched. When those compounds are commercially available, you can bet that plastic straws will make a comeback - they can biodegrade, all of a sudden. 


3D printed straw by JACE Design & NK Labs  

So, to answer the question I posed at the start of the article, I do believe that 3D printing could flip fine dining on its head. In a situation where the technology is slightly advanced and people are willing to step into experiential dining, I would argue that people will certainly embrace the idea of a 3D printer in the kitchen. 

How 3D Printing Could Flip Fine Dining On Its Head

Lewis is a freelance writer from the UK, specializing in food writing. He's been fascinated by food technology for a long time, and enjoys writing about it in articles like this one.' Would that suit you? I'll be attaching a headshot to this message. You can contact Lewis here