Imagine new 'pastabilities'

 3D pasta

There are hundreds of different pasta shapes, each with its own special attributes that make it the perfect companion to a particular style of sauce. Barilla, the world's largest pasta company, isn't content to limit itself to this large world of pasta. For the past few years, the company has been experimenting with intricate 3D pasta shapes.

Barilla hosts a yearly competition to get ideas for new pasta shapes that can't be made using traditional processes. The goal isn't just to make another novelty shape, but rather to get people "to think about how geometry affects flavor and texture, and how a pasta shape  interacts with a sauce." 

The 3D pasta printer works by using a small nozzle that pushes the dough out in a steady stream, layering the dough along three different axes. Currently, the process is slow compared to traditional extrusion machines - it takes a few minutes to make about nine pieces of pasta. 

Barilla has been working with other companies on new 3D shapes for about seven years, but just got its own printer two years ago. The company is among the first to embrace 3D printing for food, a trend that is growing rapidly. Beyond the intricate designs you can make, there are practical applications to the technology. For example, scientists have used 3D food printers to make food for people who have difficulty swallowing. I think we can expect to see more and more uses for 3D food printers, both in restaurants and by food producers. Who knows, maybe in a couple of years it will be the new "must have" gadget for home cooks!

Photos courtesy Barilla Group

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