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Is 3D printed 8-bit sushi the food of the future? Japan’s Open Meals thinks so

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Japan-based Open Meals is hoping to put some 3D printed food on your plate. That is, if you’re willing to eat 3D printed sushi that looks like it’s come straight out of an 8-bit video game.

Developed through a collaboration between the Yamagata University in Japan, marketing firm dentsu, automotive components manufacturer Denso and the Tohokushinsha Film Corporation, Open Meals’ 3D printing sushi technology has become something of a phenomenon after it was showcased at SXSW in Austin, Texas this week.

There, visitors had the unique opportunity to see edible sushi being built up, bit by bit, by Open Meals’ Pixel Food Printer. To be clear, the 3D printer wasn’t depositing layers of raw fish onto a build platform (slightly unappetizing, if you ask me). Rather, it was stacking tiny cubes of an edible gel injected with colors, flavors and nutrients to match real sushi.

And while we can’t speak to the 3D printed sushi’s deliciousness, it is clear that Open Meals has done something remarkable with its robotic food printer.

Open Meals

To make the 3D printed morsels even more appealing, Open Meals is marketing its technology as “Sushi Teleportation,” because it is capable of transmitting a digital model of the sushi from a remote location to the Pixel Food Printer. For full effect, Open Meals impressed SXSW visitors by 3D printing sushi orders that were sent all the way from Tokyo.

The demonstration could very well be the first ever example of “food data transmission,” and Open Meals has lofty ambitions for furthering its sushi printing technology.

Once it has refined the Pixel Food Printer—by minimizing the size of the edible gel pixels and improving its flavor profiles—Open Meals believes its food AM system could be used to send meals through Social Food Network Services (SFNS) with destinations as remote as outer space.

Open Meals

The patent-pending system is more than just the Pixel Food Printer, however: the software behind the technology is an integral part of the food printing experience. Food Base, which Open Meals claims as the “world’s first digital food platform,” is a growing repository of 3D food models designed for the Pixel Food Printer. Sushi is just the tip of the 3D printed food iceberg, it seems.

Down the line, Open Meals intends for people to use its edible AM tech to share, download and print food as easily as you might download a song from iTunes.

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