One area within the 3D printing space which may be a bit slow to catch on, is that of food printing. Companies like Natural Machines have unveiled systems which will enable anyone to print intricate patterns with paste-like foods such as Nutella, pancake mix, and cookie dough. I think there is probably something about a machine printing out food which still needs to catch on before such culinary techniques really take off. With this said, what if there was a machine that didn’t require a user to fill up a print cartridge that would then be used to extrude the food from. What if it automated an extrusion process which thousands of Cheese-loving people do every day?

cheeseaniThat’s exactly what one man named Andrew Maxwell-Parish had been wondering. Maxwell-Parish, who manages a creative technology and interactive electronics maker space at California College of the Arts, has a knack himself for making incredible gadgets. As a graduate of mechanical engineering at the University of Minnesota, many of his projects are well ahead of their time. Among them; Messenger Bags, Booty Box, Wu-Tang Can, and now the Easy Cheese 3D Printer.

Fairly self explanatory, the Easy Cheese 3D Printer fabricates food items using an Easy Cheese aerosol-like can. Built on a Cartesian-style 3D printer frame with three axes, the printer’s movements are controlled in a similar fashion to any FDM/FFF 3D printer you may have seen on the market. That’s where the similarities end, however.e2

Instead of utilizing a heated nozzle extrusion system, or a pump-based paste extruder, Maxwell-Parish took the cheap, easy and clever way out. I’m sure we are all familiar with Easy Cheese. Concealed in a bottle, which when the white nozzle is pressed, yummy cheese comes squirting out onto whatever culinary creation one is making. Maxwell-Parish utilized these aerosol-like bottles as his extrusion system for his printer.

The printer has an arm-like mechanism, which Maxwell-Parish 3D printed himself. The computer tells the arm to move whenever cheese is to be extruded, and the arm proceeds to pull the nozzle toward itself, activating the flow of cheese. Because Maxwell-Parish utilizes a self functioning extruder (an Easy Cheese can) there is no messy filling of cartridges or the feeling that the food may be getting contaminated as it runs through the extruder. Instead, pristine Easy Cheese comes flowing out onto the build platform, which in this case is aluminum foil.

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The lack of mess by not requiring the user to equip the printer with food, is more than made up for, however, in the mess which ensues when Maxwell-Parish begins testing the machine — as you seen in the video above. He quickly realizes a whole slew of issues and problems which need to be resolved. Breaking off the cheese when a print is complete, getting the cheese to flow evenly, not pulling apart the underlying layer, and building structures higher than just 3 layers without a total collapse of the cheesy structure, are all problems that he experienced.e4

The video you see above is only the first test for Maxwell-Parish, in what he hopes will eventually be a successful concept for food printing. Whether this project ends successfully or not, it has accomplished two important tasks. It made us all chuckle a bit, and may be a stepping stone for an even better can-driven 3D printer…. Reddi-Wip anyone?

Let’s hear your thoughts on this creative, yet pretty comical 3D printing application. Discuss in the Easy Cheese 3D printer forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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