Windell H. Oskey over at evilmadscientist.com comes up with clever gadgety ideas, always implemented with fine attention to detail, some of which I’ve featured previously. Somehow I missed CandyFab, a 3D prototyping machine that builds prototypes out of sugar, built and featured back in 2007.
CandyFab has a bed of suger, over which an XY positioner places a hot air nozzle. The hot air melts the sugar granules together. Like many 3D prototype machines, the final shape is built up vertically in layers. To produce a prototype, the nozzle first draws the bottom layer of the model. Then the bed of sugar is lowered and a new layer of sugar is added, and the process is repeated. When the final layer is added the bed is raised and the new model emerges from the loose sugar around it.
Building the model while it is embedded in the modeling material has the advantage that models with loose parts, such as a model of a chain, can be made without having to fabricate an external matrix to hold the loose pieces in place. Using sugar as the medium also has several advantages over other materials. As Oskey puts it:
As we mentioned in our preview of the printer, our printing medium of choice is granulated sugar. Sugar is a particularly good medium because it’s non-hazardous, non-toxic, non-intimidating, kid friendly, water soluble, rigid despite having a low melting point, and as an organic, may be suitable for making forms for investment casting. It’s also very easy to obtain and very inexpensive: you can buy it at grocery stores, and in large bags at places like Costco for about $0.37/pound.
Subsequent to the original announcement of CandyFab4000, the all new and improved CandyFab6000 was released, which has a prototyping volume of over 10 liters.
CandyFab is also useful for printing “Hello World” on your toast.
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