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3D printed pasta could soon be headed to your plate if a collaboration between Italian pasta-maker Barilla and Dutch research organisation TNO is a success.

Dutch news website Trouw is reporting the two companies have been collaborating on a fast, 3D food printer that prints pasta, targeted at the restaurant market.

Restaurant-goers could bring a USB stick containing their 3D designs, and chefs could plug-and-print on the spot.

Kjeld van Bommel, project leader at TNO, said one of the potential applications of the technology could be to enable customers to present restaurants with their pasta shape desires stored on a USB stick.

Project leader Kjeld van Bommel told the website, "Suppose you are married for 25 years, you go out to eat and you want to surprise your wife with pasta in the shape of a rose. If you have a design with you on a USB flash drive, the printer can make it."

He told the website that the printer in its current form can produce 15 to 20 pieces of pasta in just two minutes — 10 times as fast as it was capable of two years ago.

The team is currently working on increasing that speed to a workable restaurant level.

Barilla came under fire last year after its chairman said the brand would never use gay couples in its advertising.

Italian news agency ANSA reported that when the show's hosts noted that gays and lesbians eat pasta, Barilla responded, "That's fine if they like our pasta and our communication, they can eat them. Otherwise, they can eat another pasta."

Barilla also said, "I respect everyone who does what they want to do without bothering others," ANSA reported. He said he supported gay marriage "but not adoption in gay families."

"As a father of multiple children, I believe it's very hard to raise kids in a same-sex couple," Barilla said, according to ANSA.

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David Swan

David Swan is a tech journalist from Melbourne and is iTWire's Associate Editor. Having started off as a games reviewer at the age of 14, he now has a degree in Journalism from RMIT (with Honours) and owns basically every gadget under the sun. He also writes for Junkee and Fasterlouder. You can email him at david.swan@itwire.com or follow him at twitter.com/mrdavidswan

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