Apparently yesterday was National Pancake Day, and I missed it. I’m not pleased about this – particularly since it was the tenth anniversary, it seems. IHOP started the holiday in 2006 as a way to raise money for charity, but I’ve actually never heard of it until now. I could have been getting a free stack of pancakes every year and I didn’t know it. It doesn’t help that I’ve always been terrible at making pancakes myself. I try to flip them too early, and they fall apart, or I wait too long and they burn, or I pour the batter too thickly so that they burn on the edges and don’t cook properly in the middle – it’s pathetic, really.Maybe I should invest in a PancakeBot. The 3D pancake printer been evolving since 2010, when civil engineer Miguel Valenzuela, inspired by a pancake stamping device he read about in Make: magazine, decided to make his own pancake machine for his two daughters. He cobbled together a device made from Legos, named it PancakeBot, and displayed it at the World Maker Faire in New York. The machine was met with a great deal of enthusiasm, unsurprisingly, as there seem to be very few people in the world who don’t like pancakes. Valenzuela then built a more advanced, non-Lego version of the pancake machine and signed an agreement with product innovation company StoreBound to bring PancakeBot to market.
After a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign that raised $460,584 (after an original goal of $50,000), PancakeBot is officially for sale – for the very reasonable price of $299.99. Right now only pre-orders are being taken, but shipping should start this month. It was recently exhibited at the International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago, where it was, of course, a hit.
Many people I know have memories of their parents trying to make pancakes in special shapes, to varying degrees of success. About the most impressive design I’ve seen is a Mickey Mouse head with disturbingly lopsided ears, but the PancakeBot allows all parents and other would-be pancake artists to create some beautiful, complex designs, complete with shading. Simply create your design on your computer, load it onto an SD card, and then plug it into the PancakeBot, which will then extrude your pre-mixed batter onto the printer’s “build plate,” or griddle, in the form of a delicious work of art.
Using PancakeBot’s free Pancake Painter software, compatible with Mac and Windows, designs can be drawn by hand or imported from photos – meaning that yes, you can print and eat your own face. The PancakeBot website also offers several uploadable designs such as animals, cartoon characters, and every printer manufacturer’s favorite design, the Eiffel Tower. You can even print your favorite – or least favorite – politician, presumably so you can vent some of your political frustration with a fork.
PancakeBot can be ordered either in black or bright cherry red. It’s simple to assemble and disassemble, with a removable, non-stick griddle and a BPA-free batter dispenser bottle. The printing surface is a pretty good size, at 17.5″ x 8.25″. PancakeBot’s website is full of helpful tutorials about how to assemble and use the printer, as well as several troubleshooting guides. The process looks to be very streamlined so that it should be quick and easy to get your pancakes from build plate to breakfast plate – although, to my disappointment, you still have to do the pancake flipping by hand. Is this a machine that you need? Discuss in the 3D Printed Pancakes forum over at 3DPB.com.