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Foodini prototype food printer a step closer to making Star Trek replicators a reality

Some of the original developers of the 3D printers have revealed the Foodini prototype, which can "print" food

3D printers have been slowly picking up steam this year, dropping in price dramatically as they reach the high street, but the next step towards Star Trek-style replicators may already be here. The Foodini prototype, revealed this week, produces edible creations that creators Natural Machines hope will revolutionise home cooking.

Barcelona-based Natural Machines want Foodini to help budding chefs prepare their own food rather than simply rely on packets and ready meals. It uses five capsules to “print” ingredients at different pressures and temperatures using a heating element. The company says it is particularly adept at making vegetable burgers, biscuits, ravioli and dough, but it’s not a completely automatic process; Foodini can’t actually cook your food, only keep it warm, and you’ll need to drop the food capsules in the dishwasher once you’ve used them up.

Foodini is designed to be simple, so instead of relying on computer aided design documents like other 3D printers, it has a customised touchscreen software interface that should make adding recipe instructions or adjusting settings a simple process for anyone that’s ever used a tablet or smartphone.

Foodini Pizza

“Its function is more like food assembly, so it’s important to not confuse what it does with actual cooking,” company co-founder Lynette Kucsma told the Smithsonian Magazine. “It’s probably most ideal for deserts or dishes with a meat or cheese paste, like ravioli. But even then it can be useful with many different kinds of food.”

“”Making your own food and knowing all of the ingredients is obviously better,” a Natural Machines spokesperson said, “but it does require more time from you in the kitchen versus opening a bag or a box of something that is processed, frozen or already prepared.”

Food lovers wanting to pick up a Foodini will have to wait until at least mid-2014, and then be prepared to pay a significant £835. Packs of fresh ingredients will be sold separately.