Fans of the sci-fi series “Star Trek” are probably familiar with a must-have technology of the 24th century–the replicator. A standard feature of star fleet, a hungry crew person could ask the replicator to synthesize the dish of choice. Have a yen for tomato soup? Just ask.
Maybe we won't have to wait another three hundred years to have one of these around the house. In fact, you may be able to buy one soon for around $1,000, or if you're the handy type, you can build your own.
Fab@home is an open-source 3D printer developed at Cornell University. You can find blueprints, software and lots of other information on the Fab@home website.
The 3D printer can be used to create all kinds of things, but the food aficionados at the French Culinary InstituteÂ in New York have been experimenting with appetizing creations. Just as in the 2D inkjet printer that may sit on your desk, the 3D printer has a series of nozzles. Instead of using ink though, the nozzles contain edible pastes made of different foods. Controlled by a computer, the nozzles extrude the paste, drop by drop, to create an object.
Here's a short video of a chocolate bar being printed. As you'll see, the device is still in beta.Â Â Granted, Fab@home isn't as cool as the Star Trek replicator–yet.Â But since it's open source, anyone is free to tinker with it. Once the creative brainpower of humanity is harnessed, there's no telling where this may lead. Keep the tomato soup; I'll take the chocolate.