Usually the customer considers it a win when a restaurant allows him or her to order a pasta sauce on a different noodle, but Barilla thinks customizable pasta is the way of the future and is investing heavily in technology to let restaurant customers eat their own, customized pasta shapes.
According to The Local, Barilla has partnered with Netherlands-based scientific research firm TNO to work out a design for a 3-D printer that will allow people to design and print their own pasta at restaurants. They suspect the novelty will pay off for guests looking to celebrate special occasions.
"For example, you could surprise your wife with pasta in the shape of a rose for your marriage anniversary," said Kjeld Van Bommel, a designer for TNO. "You simply save your design in a USB and bring it to the restaurant. The 3-D food printer there will print it on site.”
Barilla has been working on the 3-D pasta printer for two years and says it has already made a lot of progress. Right now the company is working towards speed to make it feasible for a customer to come up with a design and eat it not too long after. The goal is to be able to print 15 to 20 pasta pieces in two minutes, and the current models are said to already be 10 times faster than the first ones.
Prototypes of the pasta printers are being tested in several Dutch restaurants, but Barilla says it is not expecting to make a lot of money by selling the machines. Instead, the company hopes to see profits from selling the cartridges of pasta dough that would be fed into the printers the same way ink cartridges are loaded into a normal ink printer.