It’s a new world, and while traditional pasta makers had to use their hands to come up with designs for wheat flour and egg shapes that would later expand into the delicious awesomeness that is pasta, now they can use a 3D printer.

Yes, Barilla has been looking around the world to find the next generation of pasta, and it has turned to people who own and make things for a 3D printer.

For those out of the loop, a 3D printer is exactly what it sounds like: a printer that rather than handle two-dimensional prints like a photo or text, can actually print in three dimensions, building an object line by line in 3D space.

The results from a 3D printer are often plastic, but we’ve seen other materials used as well, and food is one of the things people have used in the past, found in a concept NASA is considering for use in space, while another company eyes the area for people keen to print at home.

Pasta manufacturer Barilla appears to be eyeing that space as well, and must have some sort of wheat-and-egg printer at its disposal, because it has asked 3D artists to come up with shapes that could be printed in a small size that would expand when dipped in water, with a 3D printed pasta competition that it ran from August.

Over 500 designers submitted entries to the competition, and now the results are in, and there are three shapes that won the attention of the company.

Image credit: Thingarage

First there’s the moon, or rather “Lune” which appears to be a full moon with a couple of craters in it.

We’re curious just how much dimension this has, given it would be hard to keep something spherical on a plate given the flexible nature of pasta. Still its creator, Italian Alessandro Carabini, suggests the pasta shape will improve the interaction between pasta and sauces.

Image credit: Thingarage

Next there’s “Vortipa” which appears to be an upside-down Christmas tree. Designed by two Italians, Danilo Spiga and Luis Fraguarda, this concept appears to cup sauce, folding it in a very unique pattern, almost as if somebody handed you a reversed Christmas tree to eat your sauce from.

Finally, there’s a rose shape which is named “Rosa” which looks like a dried rose plucked from its stem, and will expand into a rose when it’s boiled in water. Created by French designer Loris Tupin, it emulates life, going form bloom to rose simply with water.

As for which of these designs will see the store shelf, that remains to be seen, though it’s possible we’ll end up eating these designs soon, and we hope we get the opportunity to.

Image credit: Thingarage

“We were thrilled to see the enthusiasm with which the contest was greeted by the designer community, which is not used to dealing with food”, said Michele Petronio, Barilla’s Vice President of Research.

“There are several steps that must be taken on the 3D project, but whatever the future of pasta, Barilla is going to be there.”

Source: Thingarage