If you go back just a mere 3-4 years, when someone would mention 3D printing, the first thing that would come to mind would be “rapid prototyping”. However, in the past few years, we’ve seen this technology expand its reach to other markets, with 3D printing becoming a hobby and a means for creating end use products, as well as a tool used for prototyping industrial level parts. At the same time, we’ve seen the technology expand into the fashion industry and even into culinary arts, with designers and chefs alike, taking advantage of the precision and custom options that the technology provides.
Now one group of students, mostly from Anhui University, in Hefei China, have developed a 3D printer that can print cakes. Certainly not the first printer of its kind, the project has gained quite a bit of attention from the media throughout the country.
The team of 7 students, who call themselves DOD (Do or Die), spent after school hours developing this machine over a period of only 3-months. While still in the prototype and testing stages, it is very capable of printing cakes of multiple shapes with quite a bit of detail.
“A recent market survey found that China’s current problem in the cake industry is that there isn’t much variety in cake design/style.” explained freshman Yanxing Chen. “Now, 3D printing applications can be used to create these cakes.”
Currently the team’s 3D printer is able to print using cream, chocolate, and more. With the latest version of their prototype, they are 3D printing a cake in the shape of a cartoon character, measuring 15 cm high. The process takes a mere 30 minutes to complete.
Chen says that already there have been 5 bakeries who have contacted the team with an interest in purchasing these 3D printers for commercial use. The idea of being able to allow a computer to do the precise work that humans typically do, means cakes can now be created with more detail and more precision then ever before. The team showed off an example of a triangular shaped cake, which typically isn’t seen within the baking industry, simply for the fact that it would be too hard to create manually by hand. That’s where the benefits of 3D printing come into play.
Currently, Chen and team hope to develop their technology further, in order make it easier for individuals to use. As things stand now, the computer program that runs the printer is still a bit lacking. They want to develop it to a point where it can monitor printing in real time, showing users the machine’s overall condition as well as other important information.
Within the next year or so, the team hopes to establish their own commercial brand and begin selling these printers to interested parties. Pricing details still are unknown, but it will be a relatively low cost solution for bakeries and other culinary institutions in China and perhaps abroad.
What do you think of the potential that 3D printing has in culinary arts such as this? Discuss in the 3D Cake Printer forum thread on 3DPB.com.