At a recent conference 3D Systems President and CEO Avi Reichental spoke of his company’s efforts to produce a true chocolate 3D printer. While the project was classed as “Not Soon”, it does indicate significant interest in 3D food printing.
We also understand that 3D Systems’ main competitor, Stratasys, has applied for a couple of patents related to 3D printed chocolate designs, according to their abstracts:
An additive manufacturing system for printing a chocolate confection, the system comprising a platen, a recirculation loop configured to circulate a flow of a chocolate material, and further configured to maintain a temper of the chocolate material; and a print head the print head being configured to receive at least a portion of the chocolate material from the recirculation loop, and further configured to extrude and deposit the chocolate material onto the platen to print at least a portion of the chocolate confection based on the commands from a controller.
The significant thing is that BOTH of the major 3D printing companies are now actively exploring 3D printed food. This means there’s a high probability that we will eventually see 3D food printers of some type at an unknown point in the future.
While 3D printed plastic objects are thrilling, particularly to 3D print newbies, we’ve noticed that people get most excited when the idea of “food printing” comes up. People are very interested in food printing, perhaps because it is the one item for which we are all “makers”.
We’re expecting both Stratasys and 3D Systems to deeply investigate all aspect of food printing, as pioneered through their chocolate ventures. They’ll develop software and hardware that ensure food safety, stores and delivers food “material” and concoct technically viable and hopefully delicious recipes.