Have you pictured yourself covered in yummy just-melting real butter and maple syrup recently? Get the fork and knife poised, because if you 3D print your batter — and your images — just right, that could be in your epicurean future.
Not only is 3D printing by way of the UK’s Kinneir Dufort shaking up Sunday morning breakfast a little, it’s changing the face of the pancake industry — to that of yours and your loved ones. That makes serving up some flapjacks a lot more fun. And 3D printing and pancakes, surprisingly, couldn’t go together more easily, as what would be the heated print bed simply serves as a griddle, with the 3D printer doling out the batter.
Pancake art and 3D printing are becoming a bit more popular, as we’ve reported on recently. With 3D design and 3D printing becoming more applicable to many aspects of daily life, and the 3D printer becoming not only more of a household item but something that can actually produce household items, we are seeing a number of creative processes happening not only in the kitchen — but also in terms of ‘smartening’ up and running the household, from food to 3D printed accessories for your appliances, coordination with Arduino software and the Internet of Things, and more.
Pancakes on a weekend morning are a great way to relax and fill up, but printing out a facial design can be a bit more of a delicate matter than just pouring batter and flipping flapjacks, according to James Torbett, senior electronic designer at Kinneir Dufort, the company behind the new pancake art which allows you to put a name and a face to your fare before you yum it up from your morning breakfast nook. Torbett used digital imaging by combining use of a digital camera with image processing to create pancake likenesses.
While these are just pancakes, this is still a 3D design and 3D printing process and requires a bit of attention to details, timing, and the technology at hand. The batter has to be mixed just right, speed is a factor, and temperature is of course of vital importance — a key factor in cooking or 3D printing.
“The real challenge was to create a program that enables the picture to be completed from start to finish within the exact timescale for the overall pancake to cook,” said Ian Hollister, prototyping director at Kinneir Dufort. “Too little time and the darker tones wouldn’t be achieved, too long and the pancake would burn.”
Reminding one a bit of the technology that allows faces and images to be printed on t-shirts and more, a digital camera is used in tandem with image processors that create the face recognition using computer numerical control and tracking software. The traditional 3D printing process begins to happen with tones as the batter heats and the layers build up, basically building the image of the face you choose to have for breakfast on any given day.
“Our bespoke software turns this into contours for the batter dispenser. The darkest areas are deposited first, through four distinct shades to the lightest areas,” said Torbett.
Due to the high speed at which pancakes cook, timing is indeed everything for the creation of the image to form correctly — not to mention also for the perfect pancake that makes your mouth water with a golden outside and a fluffy inside — all just waiting to hit the plate.
Bristol-based Kinneir Dufort is an award-winning design company with 30 years of experience in product research, development, and innovation. A global company, they work with major companies in a variety of sectors, including the healthcare industry, defense, and security. Accredited with ISO 9001 and 13845 certifications, they are able to help clients with solutions in medical device development as well.
Are you in the mood for some personalized 3D printed pancakes? What do you think of bringing in this level of technology to the breakfast table? Tell us your thoughts in the 3D Printed Pancake forum over at 3DPB.com.