You could be forgiven for thinking that this month’s featured design is a ceramic sculpture by a Dutch contemporary artist. It is in fact an elaborate cake decoration 3D-printed in sugar.
The ChefJet Pro creates intricate 3-dimensional shapes by building up layers of edible materials – in this case, crystallised fine grain sugar.
Aimed at the commercial market, the printer’s ability to create custom-designed confections and cocktail accessories will appeal to gastronomists and mixologists alike. Once the printer is launched, culinary creatives will no doubt push this new tool to the limit – and that is what makes the introduction of new 3D technologies so exciting.
If ‘necessity is the mother of invention’, the ChefJet certainly has a great back story in that respect. As architecture students, co-inventors Liz and Kyle von Hasseln were asked to bake a friend’s birthday cake, but with no oven in their tiny apartment they turned their attention to the 3D Systems printer they were using for their thesis project. By adjusting the technology to print with sugar, they created a personalised cake-topper, and their company Sugar Lab was born. Having sold the company to 3D Systems in 2013, the von Hasselns now work as creative directors developing new food products.
3D Systems is due to open its new Culinary Lab in Los Angeles any day now. This purpose built ‘culinary innovation centre’ will provide a dedicated environment for education and research into 3D food printing. The Culinary Lab will enable 3D printing experts to collaborate with chefs, mixologists and food innovators with a view to breaking new ground in 3D food printing.
Ultimately it is hoped that personalised nutrition and pharmaceuticals will also be possible. For the 3D printing community as a whole, food sustainability is another area of great importance.
If the concept of having a 3D printer in the kitchen sounds like pure science fiction – it is worth remembering that people once felt the same way about the microwave oven.
Although development of this technology still has some way to go, you may well be sampling 3D printed food sooner than you think!
- Explore more ChefJet Pro information and images on the 3D Systems website >
- Video of the ChefJet Pro 3D food printer in action at CES, the world leading consumer electronics convention. Watch video in YouTube >
Photo credits: 3D Systems
ChefJet Pro features in the June edition of Rhine Capital Partners monthly investment reporting.
- On 27th June 2015