Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
Back to the future of food robotics!
The ChefJet Pro is manufactured by 3D Systems, the company founded by Chuck Hull, the inventor of stereolithography and rapid prototyping manufacturing, aka 3D printing. In contrast to 3D food printers that extrude viscous pastes, one layer at a time, which are then sometimes cooked, or alternatively scaffolded in place, the 3D Systems Chefjet Pro printer uses a fused deposition process of 3D printing, previously used only for 3D printing inedible and/or toxic materials, at very high furnace temperatures.
3D printing using fused deposition invokes a process where powder is sequentially deposited in layers, each layer fused to the next, using a binder solution that is applied with an inkjet process. In contrast to 3D extrusion of pastes that tend to blend together, fused deposition thus enables the printing of delicate and intricate 3D objects, which can have complex geometries and interiors, printed images or text, both within the object and/or on the outside. The Chefjet Pro invention thus comprises both the mechanical and digital means for a 3D food production system that uses a fused deposition process to 3D print edible food objects, including the independent variation of color, flavor, and texture.
In practice, this means designing a 3D food object with invention CAD (Computer-Aided- Design) software. The design is then sent to the invention 3D printer, which converts the software instructions. The software instructions are converted into machine controls and tool commands for printing the fused powdered object, layer by layer. Sequential layering includes the mixing and addition, in real time, of RGB food coloring and/or flavors and scents, for every pixel. Thus, intricate colored graphic designs can be incorporated into, and onto, the edible 3D printed object – for example, for spectacular wedding cake decorations!
The ChefJet Pro invention is recited in the recently filed patent application US2018160720, titled Apparatus and method for producing a three-dimensional food product. The abstract of this invention is included below, together with a 3D Systems YouTube video, showcasing the 3D printed sweet and savory treats.
A freeform fabrication system for the production of an edible three-dimensional food product from digital input data is disclosed. Food products are produced in a layer-bylayer manner without object-specific tooling or human intervention. Color, flavor, texture and/or other characteristics may be independently modulated throughout the food product.
3D systems runs a Culinary Laboratory in Los Angeles, in collaboration with The Culinary Institute of America, professional chefs, restaurateurs, local bakeries, and famous architects, such as Mei Lin -- each partner willing to experiment with the technology.
Watch out for the most dazzling edible 3D printed sculptures and constructions, if you have not already seen and tasted some!
3D systems Culinary 3D printing
3D systems Culinary Gallery
3D Systems Collaborations
The Culinary Institute of America