It’s not exactly 3D, but it is printing, and it is beer, and there are lessons for 3D printing companies.
Ripples is a venture from Israel-based Steam CC, an IoT company. In 2015 they introduced a popular device for printing detailed patterns on the top of coffee drinks. I suppose such a development was inevitable given the explosive Instagrammy interest in coffee patterns. These folks made it work automatically and perfectly.
With coffee. Now they’re introducing a similar system for beer.
Their new “Beer Ripples” prints patterns in the 3D foam you typically find at the top of a beer. Check out the images to see what the results look like.
Their press release does not specifically describe how it works, but it is likely to use a similar system to their coffee ripple system. That system used a secondary fluid to disturb the coffee foam and create the patterns. Ripples says the amount of liquid used is insignificant and it does not affect the taste or chemistry of the drink. And it provides a way for the company to sell refills of this material.
The Beer Ripples is likely similar, with a secondary agent used to create the patterns in the beer foam. They explain:
Beer Ripples is a revolutionary device that prints beautiful, high-resolution images and messages at the touch of a button, using Ripples’ malt-based ink. The Wi-Fi connected, counter-top sized device features a highly intuitive and easy-to-use touchscreen system, making Ripples a highly convenient and versatile way to transform a simple drink into a one-of-a-kind experience that keeps customers coming back for more.
The design of this system is very user-friendly. It sits on the countertop (or bar top, I suppose) and presents a very simple interface for operators. Operators can select from a pre-made library of 2D images to print, or even submit their own.
Sure, this is definitely not a 3D printer, even if the beer foam is a bit thick. But there’s some lessons here for 3D printer designers.
This device appears quite popular, in spite of its USD$3,000 price and USD$1,500 annual subscription fee. They’ve succeeded because they’ve found a use case that is in high demand and they’ve designed a specific device to address it with push-button simplicity.
If only 3D printer manufacturers could see similar “making” opportunities and address them ways that attract mass customers.