Nov 2, 2015 | By Kira
We’re back again with another 3Ders Monday Warm-up, a weekly roundup of some of the biggest 3D printing trends, projects, products or ideas, in an easy-to-read format to help ease you into the busy workweek to come.
Last week, 3D Systems officially opened their new culinary innovation centre, the 3DS Culinary Lab, a learning, collaboration and exploration space, furnished with the ChefJet Pro 3D food printer, for leading chefs, artisans and mixologists to experiment with and push the boundaries of 3D printed food. This got me particularly excited about 3D printed food options, uses, and the rapidly expanding range of 3D food printers on the market today.
A French onion soup with 3D printed onion powder cube by Josiah Citrin of the two-Michelin Starred restaurant Melisse
Unlike other 3D printing applications, such as aerospace, automotive or robotics, 3D printed food has the potential to directly impact every single one of us. Not every one owns a car or needs a robot, but every single one of us has to eat. Whether it’s instant noodles, a five-course dinner, mom’s Sunday evening roast, or even just watching your favourite food TV competition, food brings us together and nourishes us in more ways than one.
At the same time, food is recognized not only as a source of comfort or nutrition, but as an actual science. The combination of food and technology are shaping the food industry, from the advent of packaging, preservatives and mass-produced non-perishables, to the avant-garde techniques of molecular gastronomy (the food science that made ‘cilantro foam’ and ‘smoked beer’ a thing.) Though far from being mainstream, 3D food printing has the potential to revolutionize almost every aspect of the food industry, from where the ingredients come from, to their nutritional value, to how they’ll be cooked, presented, and of course, how they’ll taste.
Looking forward to the near future when everyone from Michelin chefs to mom will have their own 3D food printer, we’ve listed up a comprehensive list of the top options that are either available today, or will be very soon.
1. 3D Systems’ ChefJet Pro 3D printer
I’m starting off with the 3D food printer that got me so excited about this topic in the first place: 3D Systems’ ChefJet Pro. As the ‘world’s first professional food 3D printer’, the ChefJet is a large-format, full-colour 3D food printer that allows chefs and mixologists to unleash their full culinary creativity, shaping flavoured sugar, candy and frosting into unprecedented shapes and structures that are 100% edible.
From sculptural cake toppers to delicate latticework to logo-emblazoned sugar cubes, the ChefJet Pro is opening new possibilities in food presentation, and making 3D printing a whole lot sweeter. Though still not available on the market, the ChefJet Pro is being tested by industry experts at the 3DS Culinary Lab, and is expected to be priced in the sub-$10,000 range.
That Tawainese 3D printing company XYZPrinting has entered the 3D food printing market is great news for consumers, because other than 3DSystems, they are one of the only large corporations with the budget to develop the technology into affordable, consumer-friendly products. This was made very apparent at the 2015 CES exhibition in Las Vegas, where the company unveiled their upcoming FDM 3D food printers. The prices will range from roughly $500 for the most basic model, to $4,000 for the all-in-one pro. The company was chosen by Lenovo to manufacture their rebranded food-compatible ShenQi 3D printers. Considering that XYZ is one of the highest-selling 3D printer manufacturers in the industry (their behind the very well-received da Vinci line of 3D printers), we're almost certain their 3D food printer will be as efficient and reliable as can be.
3. QiaoKe Solid Chocolate 3D printer
On the topic of sweet, sweet 3D printing, Chinese company 3DCloud / Becoda (the 3D printing arm of North Branch Everbright) recently showed off their QiaoKe Food 3D printer at the 2015 Beijing Urban Science Festival. Named after the Chinese pronunciation for ‘chocolate’, the aluminium-bodied 3D printer features a unique solid feed system that allows solid chocolate chips to be extruded into standing 3D figures, such as an impressive replica of the Eiffel Tower, without any preheating required. Aimed at bars, restaurants, cafes and wedding caterers, the QiaoKe is expected to be released any day now, and according to the developers, will cost half as much as existing chocolate 3D printers.
Chocolate is perhaps the most common and fun food material for 3D printing, and we’ve seen some other great examples including India’s Chocobot, Choc Creator 2.0, Hershey’s CocoJet, and the upcoming Choctory 3D printer (short for Chocolate and Factory).
4. Katje’s Magic Candy Factory-The world’s first Wine Gum 3D printer
Luckily for those of us with an insatiable sweet tooth, there is no shortage of sugary 3D printed confections. If chocolate isn’t your thing, German candy manufacturer Katjes unveiled the Magic Candy Factory, the world’s first commercial wine gum 3D printer. Thanks to their proprietary quick-drying wine gum filament (which is all natural, vegan and lactose and gluten-free), the Magic Candy Factory can 3D print colourful candies in just minutes that can be eaten right away. Installed at the Grün-Ohr café in Berlin, the 3D printer does away with complex computing, and allows customers to easily choose the shape, taste, and colour they want using a simple and intuitive onscreen menu. With prices ranging between five to ten euros per custom-made candy, the Magic Candy Factory claims to be the first-ever 3D printer for wine gums.
In a similar vain to the wine gum 3D printer, two London-based students have created the GumJet Generation1 3D Printer which can actually print chewing gum with customizable shape, colour and taste options, adding a whole new dimension to the chewing gum experience. "The biggest difference in terms of taste is you can really feel the texture of 3D printed chewing gum layer by layer in your mouth," explained Chia-Ling Lin, a master's student at the Royal College of Art in London who helped come up with it. These layers can also clearly be seen in the results, which look like textured sticks of gum. But depending on the hardening rate of the ‘filament’, any type of structure could potentially be made with their GumJet. For now, their results are still in prototyping stage and haven't made it to the market, but they've been used in an interesting art project called ‘Mouths exchanging senses’.
Combining food, science and statement art, London-based artist Katrin Spranger collaborated with Dutch startup 3DChef to create a 3D printed art installation that deals with the issues of bee decline and in particular the alarming Colony Collapse Disorder. And what better way to draw people’s attention towards bees than by 3D printing with natural, edible honey? The “Food Chain” sculpture they created is impressive not only for its size, but for the level detail, and the fact that it was 100% edible and delicious—all while getting across an important message.
Of course, for 3D printed food to really revolutionize how we eat, it has to move beyond novelty candies, chocolates and desserts. The Foodini, by Spanish company Natural Machines, is one of the most exciting this regard—it’s capable of printing a wide range of real, fresh, and nutritious foods in either savoury or sweet. These include pastas (ravioli, gnocchi, spaghetti), burgers, chicken nuggets, and pizza dough, as well as cookies, crackers and chocolate.
The Foodini will come with empty food capsules, which users can fill with fresh ingredients—of course, these have to already have soft textures in order to extrude properly. It then builds up the meal, layer by layer, based on the selected design. Though it can’t actually cook the food, the Foodini’s main purpose is “to take on the difficult and/or time-consuming parts of food preparation, that often discourage people from creating homemade food.” For example, it can 3D print a perfectly round pizza dough and spread on the sauce.
The company launched a successful Kickstarter last year, and will retail for approximately $1,300.
8. NuFood Robot 3D Food Printer
The NuFood Robot 3D food printer is another one that goes above and beyond novelty sweets, and is sure to be a hit with avant-garde molecular gastronomists. Unlike other 3D food printers which essentially liquidize a given ingredient and extrude it into a different shape without modifying the content in any way, the NuFood Robot actually combines distinct flavours to create something completely new, allowing users to customize the colour, taste, texture, shape and nutritional content of their food.
Through the principles of spherification, the NuFood Robot 3D prints jelly-like liquid capsules, known as ‘flavour bombs’ that pack intense flavour into unexpected shapes and textures—for example, a jelly that looks like a strawberry, but tastes like a raspberry, and is made with real raspberry juice and, surprisingly, balsamic vinegar. The flavour bombs contain only natural ingredients, which can be used to imitate existing fruits and foods, or combined to create completely new tastes.
Dovetailed, the company behind the NuFood, is planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign in order to fund mass production by next year. The price is expected to be around the same as a high-end consumer espresso machine.
The Bocusini is an open source 3D food printing system that plans to make 3D printing food as easy and accessible as possible through they’re ‘plug & play’ interface. Rather than complex modelling software, users can design their food creations through a web-based design platform (which will include 3D printable food designs, recipes and serving instructions), and attach the heated food printing head to just about any standard 3D printer.
What’s more, the Bocusini has been tested with more than 30 natural food products ranging from sweet to savoury, including fudge, meringue, fruit purees and jellies, meat pates, and even cream cheese. Given their open source and consumer-oriented approach, the Bocusini is one of the most promising projects to democratize 3D food printing. After raising €40,000 on Kickstarter, the Bocusini is in its final stages of development, and is on-track for its February 2016 release.
10. RoVaPaste 3D Food Printer
Though companies like Bocusini got what they needed and then some through crowdfunding, not every Kickstarter is a success story. Take the RoVaPaste 3D printer by Canadian company ORD Solutions. Even though the multipurpose 3D printer, capable of extruding edible and non-edible pastes, was promising, the campaign raised only $11,000 of the required $25,000 to get off the ground. Undeterred, ORD Solutions continued development at their own expense, and has finally made the RoVaPaste 3D printer available for pre-orders at the price of $1,749 USD.
The easy-to-clean machine has been tested with icing, frosting, Nutella, chocolate brownie batter, ice cream, peanut butter, honey, mustard, cream cheese, nacho cheese, and many other indulgent edibles. Its powerful extrusion technology (it’s the first dual extrusion paste 3D printer in the world) also works well with a variety of non-edible materials, including silicone, gypsum, clay, epoxy, wood putty, and conductive ink. It’s a heavy-duty, multi-purpose machine, and we’re glad it got the second chance it deserves.
Italian pasta giant Barilla is planning to take the ultimate comfort food into the next century, by equipping restaurants worldwide with 3D pasta printers that can churn out incredibly fresh noodles in any shape imaginable. In the works since 2013, with help from Dutch technology innovators TNO Eindhoven, the Barilla 3D pasta printer is exciting precisely because it combines 3D printing technology, still a mystery to many, with a ubiquitous and universally loved ingredient—the pasta noodle. Rather than creating novelty edible decorations, this is a 3D printed food application that could play a role in our everyday diets.
Last year, Barilla launched the Print Eat contest, challenging consumers to submit their most creative 3D printable pasta shapes. Among over 500 entries, they chose French designer Loris Tupin’s as the winner: a bio-dynamic 3D printable pasta that blooms into the shape of a rose when put into boiling water. Other creations included 3D printed Christmas-tree shaped pasta, and a hollow ‘moon’ design that allows for better interaction between the pasta and sauces. Though Italians are known to be purists when it comes to their cuisine, 3D printed pasta is a fun take on a traditional and beloved ingredient.
A fun addition to the novelty 3D printed food design category is the PancakeBot, an acrylic body machine (which was initially created with LEGO) that uses stepper motors and two belt drives to control the batter-head’s position, enabling it to extrude pancake batter in impressively complex (albeit 2D) designs, from the Eiffel Tower to a portrait of President Obama. Since it fits right onto an electric griddle, you can go from design to cooked pancake very quickly, and take your Sunday brunches to the next level. After a successful demonstration at the Bay Area Maker Faire in 2014, PancakeBot creator Miguel Valenzuela finally decided to market his product, and according to the Kickstarter page, they’re just waiting for final safety certifications before they can officially be sold at the retail price of $299. In the meantime, they’ve released this tantalizing trailer, and are creating new content (including manuals, how-to videos, pre-made designs and more) to help users get the most out of their PancakeBot 3D printers.
Like chocolate, 3D printing with pancake batter is a popular option. Companies have had a lot of fun with this—Kinneir Dufot combines facial recognition and 3D printing technology to create pancakes with your own face on them, and Good Luck Eating in China has created a fun 3D printed pancake robot that creates pancakes with Hello Kitty and other cute designs.
Spanish company Robots in Gastronomy is a research group focusing on the intersection of technology and gastronomy. Naturally, they’ve been experimenting and innovating with 3D printing technology, and have created the Food Form 3D printer that can print directly onto a heated cooking surface such as grill or frying pan, onto a serving plate, or onto a very cold surface such as the Polyscience Anti-Griddle (which keeps foods at 30°F / -34.4°C). This last bit is the most interesting, as it means that they can actually 3D print ice cream into unique shapes, and enjoy it before it melts. The group, which includes Michelin Star Chefs, industrial designers, and high end kitchen equipment distributors, wants to bring 3D printed food into the mainstream. “The aim of the group is not to industrialize the kitchen,” they wrote, “conversely, the aim is to provide tools of invention and innovation in the kitchen.
Now this one is a lot of fun--Yoshihiro Asano hacked a Solidoodle 3D printer that plots custom Furikake designs (a dry seasoning to flavour Japanese rice) onto traditional Japanese bento box lunches. Uploading a stencil sprinkle sheet into modified 3D printing software, the Lunchbot features a special ‘printhead’ to ‘extrude’ the flakes. ‘The biggest problem during design was that the rice tends to stick to the extruder!’ Yoshihiro explains. His final design therefore relies on furikake cartridges, controlled by an Arduino, that drop the flakes from a considerable height onto the rice.
We’ve covered 3D printed chocolate, ice cream, pasta and even sushi, but what about everyone’s favourite party food—pizza? Four undergraduate students from the Imperial College in London have started a 3D food printing research project, known as F3D, that seeks to truly revolutionize how we prepare our food. A modified RepRap 3D printer, the F3D is capable of 3D printing and actually cooking a pizza. Unlike many of the other 3D food printers we’ve seen, which can help with certain areas of food preparation, the F3D is one of the only ones we’ve seen that gets from raw ingredients (dough, cheese, and tomato puree) to fully prepared meal all with just one machine.
It uses the Fab@Home paste extrusion system, a Simple Paste Extruder available on Thingiverse, a DUET and DUEX4 bundle to control the printer, and finally a halogen oven (not unlike Hasbro’s infamous Easy-Bake Ovens) to get the job done. Though the F3D is still in prototype/concept phase, it’s certainly one to keep an eye on for the future of 3D printed food.
Though most of us take chewing and swallowing for granted, up to 60% of residents in nursing homes suffer from dysphagia—a condition that makes it difficult or painful to swallow food. In order to make soft, safe meals that are as appealing as they are nutritious, Dutch innovator Pascal de Grood has produced a 3D printer that can recreate dozens of classic meals out of pureed ingredients and gelling agents, mimicking their taste, texture, and even incorporating additional nutritional value. Not only are the elderly more inclined to want to eat these meals, but the soft, pureed texture makes it easy for them to swallow, and each meal is algorithmically optimized to deliver the specific nutrients and portions each patient requires on a weekly basis. We also covered Dutch company TNO's similar 3D printed food devices a few years ago.
The FoodJet 3D printer is being used alongside Biozoon’s SmoothFood technology as part of PERFORMANCE, an EU-funded project that seeks to commercialize and market a holistic, automated and personalized food supply chain using 3D printing technology. As of now, Biozoon’s devices are already in use in over 1,000 care homes across Europe.
17. Discov3ry – a universal paste extruder add-on for desktop 3D printers
If you don't want to invest in a brand new 3D printer dedicated to food, the Discov3ry is a simple, affordable and universal hardware add-on that can turn just about any stepper motor based, FDM desktop 3D printer into a 3D food printer. It’s a no-brainer solution for those who want to experiment with 3D food printing, but don’t want to commit to investing in any of the innovative machines we’ve mentioned above. It’s plug & play, works with a variety of 3D printer brands and both edible and inedible materials, and best of all costs just $400.
Though not a 3D food printer itself, the Pyra, designed by Studio Fathom, is a 3D printed device that takes on the modern convection oven.
The oven, which is built entirely out of engineering-grade plastics, was designed to combine the versatility of fused deposition modeling 3D printing with advanced cloud-based intelligence in an effort to combine the best qualities of 3D printing and the Internet of Things. The name of the oven - Pyra - refers to both the pyramid shape and the Greek word “pyro,” which means “fire”. To fabricate the oven, the studio used a Fortus 900mc, which is the only 3D printing system in the world that supports the food-safe ULTEM 1010 material. To cook food, the flameless oven utilizes forced air convection from conductive metal plates to evenly heat the cooking enclosure with uniform temperatures of up to 375 degrees Fahrenheit—it was even used to a dry-rubbed cut of beef!
There are even more 3D food printers that are being developed as we speak. In Singapore, NUS student Daniel Peng Zhuo created a food 3D printer that works similarly to the XYZ FDM 3D printing system, and can 3D print with mashed potatoes, chocolate and cookies. We've also previously covered the Focus 3D Printer by 3D by Flow, a mobile, lightweight, multi-material 3D printer that works with edible and non-edible materials, and can be packed up and carried around in a very convenient built-in suitcase. Finally, theres San-Francisco based StuffHubs, which has created an online platform for 3D modelers of all skill levels to design and create custom 3D printed lollipops. Again, it's all about getting 3D printing technology into the hands of consumers in fun and creative ways, that can be a gateway to more advanced applications.
Clearly, there is a lot going on in 3D food printing, and what's even more exciting than these innovative 3D food printers, is the wide range of uses and applications of 3D printed food, from expanding chefs' culinary creativity, to providing new and much-needed opportunities in food sustainability, nutritional customization, and even 3D printed astronaut food made in outer space. There seems to be no doubt that 3D printed food is the future of food, plain and simple, and will be a part of our culinary fabric within the next decade.
Did we miss any great 3D food printers, or do you have ideas for 3D printing food applications? Let us know in the comments, and we'll be back next week with another 3Ders Monday Warm-up.
Posted in 3D Printer
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