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High-Tech Vending Machines Will Dispense 3D-Printed Snacks In The Future

5 May 2016, 4:52 pm EDT By Lauren Keating Tech Times
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Finnish nonprofit VTT Technical Research Centre is investing in high-tech vending machines that will allow customers to customize their healthy snack that is 3D-printed.  ( Salim Fadhley | Flickr )

Your stomach starts rumbling, so you head over to your office or school's vending machine to quickly get something to munch on. While there might be some semi-healthy trail mix in there, all you see is boring chips and high-calorie chocolate bars that will leave you still feeling hungry.

If only it could dispense something to eat that is both healthy and has some interesting textures with a good crunch. Well, it looks like this Finnish nonprofit is trying to make this thought a reality.

VTT Technical Research Centre has a goal to develop advanced food manufacturing technology to further shape the future of food.

To do this, VTT is investing in vending machines that will use 3D printing technology that will create healthy snacks. Customers would be able to customize these snacks to make a treat that will please both their taste buds and their eye.

Just imagine almost toy-like-looking treats that have various textures like being crispy, having a soft center or crunchy topping. In fact, texture would be an important aspect of the 3D-printed food in order for the creations to not be bland and to avoid having them taste like how they could look: plastic.

VTT is testing its 3D food prototypes that include starch and cellulose-based materials. The nonprofit is also seeking to develop plant protein (from oats and faba beans) and dairy protein (from whey) concentrates that could be printed.

3D printed cookies.

(Photo : fdecomite | Flickr) 3D printed cookies.

Of course, it will take some time before we will see these high-tech vending machines that are ready to print your snack.

"... [A] great deal of work is needed in order to proceed to industrial-scale production. Equipment needs to be developed in addition to materials. Such equipment could be developed for domestic 3D food printing as well as vending machines," Nesli Sözer, principal scientist at VTT, writes in an announcement.

These high-tech vending machines, in theory, have the potential to change the future of food.

If we can one day be able to create our own tasty concoction of a sweet, savory and crunchy snack that will keep us full thanks to its protein, why stop innovating food there? There could also one day be fast food joints where you watch your food get printed right before your very eyes. Maybe with a touch of our iPads, we would be able to have our home 3D printer whip us up a late-night snack or have breakfast ready by the time we are dressed for work in the morning.

At the very least, the next snack you get from the vending machine could be 3D-printed.

Photo: Salim Fadhley | Flickr

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