Well, this is certainly not a 3D printing application I would have imagined! I am impressed by the intricacy of the designs. They remind me a bit of ice sculptures in terms of their sensitivity to the environment and their use of a delicate and changeable material, but of course not as cold and perhaps a bit more sticky. Interesting story to cover.
I watched a few cake making artists build beautiful dessert sculptures that eventually were eaten. I imagine that the printer could be used to print an artist's creation over and over, after the first one. I think that would be a good way to preserve the art. Here I am... talking about preserving cake art... I take art too seriously.
Haha, Cabe--"cake art." Well, as evidenced by your story, it is certainly an art form. (Well, I suppose people who make beautiful cakes always thought this--and seeing the cake made for my friend's recent birthday, I must agree.) You're right, 3D printing would be a good way to preserve or at least replicate the "cake art" over and over again.
My first impression after reading only the headline, took me back to my 6th grade art project where I built a medieval castle using sugar cubes as the bricks. (Cool project, I got an A+). Keeping it around the house afterward was different story as ants quickly discovered it, and my mother banned it 'to the curb'.
Making the art projects as Edible to begin with – now there's a great innovation. Congratulations to the von Hasseln's!
This concept just screams for chocolate. I'm not even kidding. Perhaps it would require a lower temperature process, but the results could be beautiful for weddings or centerpieces at conferences. I'm betting on chocolate.
Rob, I am certain that I have seen a write-up about a chocolate printing process, within the last year, I think. So your idea is certainly valid. But I think that it dispensed a thin stream, not drops.
As for 3D printing with sugar, it would take a thin stream of granules and just enough IR to melt the outside of the grains, so the process control would need to be very tight. Not a real problem, except for finding the exact parameters. Adding any solvent would certainly lead to almost instant jamming because wet sugar is so very sticky. Really, the serious challenge would be in the feeding at a consistant rate. Of course it might just feed one grain at a time, but do it quite rapidly.
It's a neat idea and application, and I can understand the inventers wanting to keep it secret, but I'd still like to know how they do it. Given that they start with granulated sugar and end up with granules stuck together, it's some sort of sintering process. With sugar, that could involve either heat or a solvent (water). It seems like heat would carmelize the sugar, but perhaps not. In any case, that would be similar to the laser sintering used for 3D printing metal parts from powdered metal.
A solvent-based sintering process would be more interesting because I'm not aware of that being used in any 3D printing systems to date. Solvent sintering could open up a lot of new applications. It could provide an alternate method of making plastic parts, compared to the plastic wire extrusion that is common. I could also see it used to make intricate structures of water-soluble or other chemicals for use where a large surface area as well as mechanical strength is needed, such as in batteries and catalysts. A chemist may even be able to devise a process by which some chemical reaction takes place as the particles are adhered together with the solvent.
I must say I was disappointed with their website. It's very minimal, it doesn't work well, and the pictures, that are almost entirely close-ups, don't really show much.
I smiled a little at the repeated warnings that sugar melts in water and under heat. Is the assumption that engineers don't know the properties of common cooking ingredients? Note: Unless you work for the design firm of Hansel & Gretel and build gingerbread houses for wicked witches, DO NOT use sugar in load-bearing structures! :)
Here in the Tampa Bay area I see quite frequently a brightly decorated van with the logo & description of EDIBLE DESSERTS. The van artwork shows various fruits re-formed into figures, etc. So, it would seem that although this 3-D printing is something new, this concept is not new. I'm sure that there are small businesses sprinkled throughout the land that offer this service also.
Charles, The vans that I've referred to showcase edible fruit, vegetables which have been artistically decorated into an arrangement, and are then consumed at various galas, functions, meetings, receptions, etc. These are for EATING, not for decoration, but they've been "stylized" to add to the decorum of the events.
Another blogger commented about "IMHO" (whatever that means???) ,and called it wasteful...... IF people consume the end product, then WHY is it wasteful????
Guess I'm too darn old, and NOT hip to the modern jargon. Plus, my typewriter doesn't have any of those aforementioned keys specifically identified. And, I didn't see any on my slide rule either. When I get home, I'll look at the wif'e abacus to see if it has any of these terms, but I'm fairly certain it doesn't either.
I also disagree with Nadine. Innovation is taking technology and finding innovative ways that it has not been used before. Far from wasteful, this could open up another unique, useful innovation that even you might find very useful. sugar could be used as a dissolvable raft that helps Build more complex geometries with other extruded solids that wasn't previously possible. Bravo for these and other people who think far outside the box and capitalizing on it. Don't stifle innovation, support it!
The tone has definitely shifted a bit. Thanks for calling me out specifically to disagree although many others have expressed the same opinion.
One definition of innovation is taking existing technology and using it in new ways. Many so called inventors and companies have made their fortunes doing that. Historically, Elias Singer and Apple.
This is cute and fun but not innovation in any form. 3D printing is still in its infancy. Most of what's touted as innovation is just new material with limited end use (sugar) or just for shock (guns).
The limitations are why I say it's not innovation and it's wasteful. Cute and fun. Not new and not interesting.
Taking a 3D printer and adapting the concept to a fundamentally different materil, (sugar) is certainly innovation, as is printing out one-off medical implants made withtitanium powder. Both are innovation. Building electronic assemblies as parts of a 3D printed item will also be quite an innovation. And it is probably just a matter of time before somebody figures out how to use 3D printing with explosives, so as to do things like explosive welding, which were invented many years back but very seldom proved useful.
But printing with sugar has got to be a real acievement because of the properties of the material: it absorbs moisture and it has chemical changes at lower temperatures. Metals and plastics are much simpler to work with. So while the range of product applications may be smaller, it is certainly an interesting innovation.
Finally, 3D printed objects I can really sink my teeth into.
Cake icing seems more manageable as an edible printing material (more like the meltable plastic string). I would think chocolate would take too long to solidify (although you could print molds for it with a regular plastic printer). I'd love to see a picture of their printer to get a better idea of the technology.
But (unfortunately) if they print customer's models, i couldn't see it on their web site (but sometimes internet doesn't work so well where I am).
A biochemist was looking for a way to print blood vessels to make kidneys. He went to hive76 to see if they can print in sugar - they figured it out.
So - old news - a hackerspace beat them to it.
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One of our core members, Jordan Miller, has just published a scientific paper using RepRap 3D printing technology to engineer living tissues for regenerative medicine. I'll give you a rundown of the science and a step-by-step guide of how Jordan got to this great spot in his career. Jordan is quick to point out that this is work that would not have been possible 5 years ago, or without the help of RepRap, Hive76, and this wonderful city of Philadelphia.
You can read the Penn press release about this awesome science, an overview from Science News, or the full paper. A more detailed post about the hardware used in this project will follow and soon you'll be able to make your own sugar extruder. (It prints chocolate too!)
Prining with sugar would also be a good way to make positives for casting many materials. The finished sugar object could simply be disolved from inside the coating, not quite like the lost wax or styrofoam processes, but using water instead of heat. Much less enviromental impact, I think, and all done at low temperature. And the material is cheaper.
Of course, making edible decorations is a nice niche to be in because hereis not much competition, at least not yet.And for those who complain about the sugar being unhealthy, this is probably expensive enough to prevent a whole lot of consumption.
And about the melting temperature; softening and reduction of bond strength happen at much lower temperatures than the melting point, as with many other materials.
Cabe, Thats really an interesting article and i am too much surprised and excited to hear that 3D printing can be done with sugar .This is indeed a very sweet concept .But is 3D printing with sugar safe ?what i beleive is that sugar melts at particular temperature doesnt that object also gets melted . Secondly do we have to protect the sugar 3D printed object with insects . Is this printing long lasting ?
Cabe , That is my point when the object can get melt and eaten up by ants whats the use of using sugar in 3D Printing . 3D printing should either be done with material other than sugar or some sort of chemical or any preservative should be included to protect it from getting damaged .
Debera, the point of most confections is that besides being art they are also food. So durability and longevity are not major requirements. I prefer my confections to not contain a lot of preservatives, even though I am certain that the preservatives I have eaten are preserving me.
Besides all of that, would you really want a desert that was "durable?" I would never choose a pie with a durable crust, I think that most would agree with that.
Thanks William for making this clear . 3D printing with sugar can be the future technology for bakeries as well it can be used in the places or by the people who dont have ovens . Initially 3D printing was used to develop physical objects but now they are being used to creat cake ,biscuits , pasteries and other bakery items and there toppings.
I beg to differ with you on this one Nadine. My wife owned and ran a catering company for 17 years to help with our three son's tuition. One of the hardest things to bring about was innovation to baked goods, specifically wedding cakes. You have to be extremely creative to meet the ever-changing needs of brides (and their mom's) when designing these cakes. Same-o-same-o just won't do. I definitely wish 3D printing had been available during those years. Maybe we could have really made the news. Excellent article Cabe.
The hackerspace Hive-76 in Philly did this a couple of years ago with a medical researcher to print blood vessels in sugar as prototypes to work on 3D printing kidneys.
The same can be used to create blood systems for replacemen hearts. There is a current technique to take a heart, disolve away the heart tissue, leaving the blood vessels, and regrow the heart tissue with the patient's stem cells. Still requires a doner heart. This method can create the blood vessels from scratch.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.