pic2eat is an innovative 3D food-printing system that facilitates collaborative artistic expression among unfamiliar individuals through the creation of jointly-designed appetizers with distinct flavor profiles. Our goal was to explore the potential of 3D food-printing technology in catalyzing the initiation of social relationships. In our pilot study, the pic2eat was deployed in an experimental setting involving three pairs of strangers. The empirical results suggest that the system is not only accessible and user-friendly, but also effective in mitigating initial social discomfort, thereby enhancing interpersonal engagement.

(a) Participants are collaborating and communicating to create a simple sketch. (b) Participants are using pic2eat to upload their creations, customizing unique flavors and proportions. (c) The 3D food printer is printing their creations. (d) Participants have completed their jointly designed appetizer using pic2eat.
Schematic flow of the study.
  • In the first phase of our study, we firstly conducted interviews with 4 experts in the catering industry, which aimed to gather comprehensive insights into their experiences with 3D food-printing technology and their views on culinary production. Secondly, we organized a social event centered around 3D food-printing. Additionally, we collected feedback from the participants, which offered valuable perspectives on our research topic. 
  • In the second phase of our research, we progressed to the development of an interactive system incorporating 3D food printing technology. It can randomly generate prompts that encourage users to collaboratively design and choose flavors and proportions for a personalized appetizer.
The interface of pic2eat.
  • In the third phase, we conducted a study aimed to evaluate our system developed in the second stage. We focused on gathering user feedback, which was instrumental in understanding the user experience, and areas for potential improvement.

As part of pic2eat’s preliminary exploration of how various flavors and their combinations can facilitate the creation of 3D printed food, we have selected five common “basic” tastes from daily life: hummus (tasteless), Greek yogurt (sour), strawberry jam (sweet), bitter gourd sauce (bitter), and chili sauce (spicy) for an initial flavor customization. Additionally, to ensure the best 3D printing results, we calibrated the printing parameters for each ingredient and used a 4mm printing nozzle.

Taking the preparation of hummus as an example: (a) representing the preparation of the hummus, (b) displaying the consistency of printable ingredients,(c) filling hummus into the printing capsule, and (d) displaying the five printing materials.


Video for CHI 2024.


Wang, H., Deng, J., Mohan, A., Li, Y., Peng, H., He, L., Elvitigala, D., Mueller, F. pic2eat: Facilitating Social Ice-breaking through Collaborative Design of 3D Printed Appetizer. CHI 2024. Late-breaking work. ACM. Preview video. Presentation video.


We thank everyone who has helped.