Mar 1, 2017 | By Benedict

BeeHex, a food 3D printing startup once associated with NASA, has raised $1 million in funding to launch its new product, the Chef 3D pizza printer. The company is planning a soft launch, and will work with a handful of pilot customers throughout 2017.

Although 3D printing a pizza sounds like the funnest thing in the world, it’s sometimes hard to contemplate BeeHex without thinking of what could have been. After all, this is a company that was funded by NASA—yes, NASA—to create a food-making 3D printer that could make meals in space. In the halcyon days of 2013, California-based BeeHex was all set to be the culinary cousin of Made In Space (and you know how much coverage we give those guys), providing astronauts with nutrition and pleasure in equal helpings.

But that was before Tom Coburn, the former Senator for Oklahoma, convinced everyone that giving $125,000 to a startup to print pizzas in space was “wasteful,” hastily ending the NASA partnership and sending BeeHex careering into the abyss like George Clooney in Gravity. Fortunately, BeeHex ventured on after having its NASA funding cut, and eventually announced last year that it would keep its 3D food printer alive, repurposing it to 3D print pizzas at concerts and sporting events. Probably a more sensible business model, all things told.

Now it seems that BeeHex’s days of adversity are over, because the company has just raised $1 million in seed funding—more than NASA ever handed out—in order to launch Chef 3D, the company’s now-perfected pizza 3D printer. Led by food automation specialist and Donatos Pizza founder Jim Grote, the successful funding round will enable BeeHex to carry out a soft launch of its 3D printer, initially working with a select group of clients throughout 2017, before scaling up in the coming years.

Grote says that, since BeeHex has mastered the art of 3D printing dough, it is now well positioned to develop other food 3D printing systems that can make different kinds of baked goods—pastries, cakes, bread—while its Chef 3D pizza printer could be an appealing investment for retailers, restaurants, amusement parks, and festivals. The investor also believes that the food 3D printer offers advantages both in terms of energy consumption and its compact size.

The Beehex Chef 3D will offer pizza lovers a number of delicious options. In addition to “printing” all sorts of toppings, the food 3D printer will also be able to fabricate gluten-free pizzas, and even custom-shaped pizzas for kids.

 

 

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chase wrote at 3/24/2017 12:29:44 AM:

Ditto on the last comment. Adding. I get experimentation. You try it. It's novel... But that's the end. Nothing coming out of a tube as a pizza topping aside the sauce or cheese possibly, encourages my taste buds to want to try it. Paté pizza anyone?? Duck liver special on Friday... anyone?? See That's all it will ever be. Paté this or that. At best. Now in the hands of robotics... I could see a pizza being made to order. But we have those in the frozen section at the grocriery store already. Unless this leads to some amazing new useful tech or materials for 3D printing. It's dead end r&d.

Joe wrote at 3/6/2017 4:38:56 PM:

People often order custom shaped and decorated items for parties or other events. This normally has been the world of cake making, but these guys have taken the concept into a new food product. There have been talk of 3D printers that can do cake decorating. But, those really have never panned out, since it was easier to just do it the traditional way. There is one exception, that has been around for many years, a 2D printer that can be used to put a photo onto a cake. It is yet to be seen if this 3D pizza printer will prove to be practical, and actually easier to do that manually customizing the pizza.

I.AM.Magic wrote at 3/1/2017 1:12:40 PM:

stupidest utilization of a 3D printer, no added value.



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