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Life is short, eat dessert first. And since life is short, why bother with messy pots and pans to make cookies, cakes, candies, and other things sweet—choose a 3D printer instead of the oven.
Desserts are one of the relatively easier edible items that the average foodie-meets-tech nerd can create. 3D printers use extruders filled with malleable ingredients such as chocolate, frosting, soft dough, and other confectionary basics. The extruders (tubes) follow the guidance of a computer mapping program (once called CAD/CAM) to build the dessert of your dreams. The process is far more complex than described here, and ripe for lots of experimental.
If you’re having trouble visualizing all this, check out the XYZ 3-D Printer in action making a chocolate design. Mastery of this sub $2,000 device can allow you to become a 3D dessert mastermind.
If it’s Oreos you want to create, there’s a printer just for that. Last year at SXSW, Mondelez—International Parent of Oreo cookies—used an experimental 3D printer from Maya Design to make cookies that reflected real-time tweets and other social conversations. Using a number of different icings and patterns, the machine was able to spit out more than 16,000 Oreo variations. Some complained that the cookies fell apart too easily, but that they remained delicious either way.
And then there’s chocolate. Forgot candy bars and Kisses—if you can get your hands on a 3D printer, in a matter of 73 seconds you can make a dodecahedron shaped piece of cocoa goodness. In 33 minutes, there’s a futuristic, customized Hershey’s Kiss you can send your sweetheart.
Chocolate appears to be on the leading edge of 3D printing as even car manufacturers are getting in on the act. Ford teamed up with 3D Systems to create a sweet version of what was once a really sweet car—the 2015 Mustang.
There’s even a 3D printer called Candy. And, as the name infers, this amazing piece of tasty technology specializes in a potpourri of confectionary delights. While the company behind the Candy food printer appears to have missed its goal on Kickstarter, it’s doubtful the geniuses who enable us to make white chocolate vases, peanut butter logos, and other creative candies have given up. At a proposed $499 price, let’s hope Candy is ready for market come the 2015 holiday season. Who doesn’t want to delight the neighbors with a truffle reindeer?
If you’re ready to move on to the big leagues, then you can creative and attempt some DIY desserts. One 3D food printer is soon to launch, providing tech chefs the ability to improvise using their choice of ingredients and self-designed patterns (though you can always fall back on the pre-packaged recipes and prints).
The Foodini, which is scheduled to go into beta the first half of 2015 and hit store shelves the second half of the year (just in time for the holidays), allows mad scientists/chefs to fill the machine’s tubes with foodstuffs of their choosing, and create anything from ready-to-eat desserts (a chocolate mousse, perhaps?) to a ready-to-bake set of Thanksgiving pies. As you can see below, this new kitchen appliance is simple to use. At least, relatively speaking.
If all else fails, and you want to impress your friends, then just put Charm City Cakes to work. Celebrity baker Duff Goldman, the backwards cap and soul patch bro, teamed up with 3D Systems Sugar Lab to create a masterpiece that includes a cake topper designed by the lab that sits atop a mountain of a Goldman layer cake.
If all else fails, find a friend with a 3D printer and send this article along. Offer to provide the coffee when they’ve created enough dessert to share.
Photo via Natural Machines
Allen Weiner has been a market research analyst in the area of new media and technology since 1994. He’s worked as writer, publisher and newspaper executive. He is the co-founder and publisher of Kombucha Network and the former managing vice president of Gartner.