3D technology is pretty sweet, in more ways than one, as the 3D printer called ChefJet, introduced at the CES, proves. It’s one of the latest examples of 3D food printers that will soon become commonplace appliances in our homes, at least once the price drops down enough for most people to afford one. It currently retails for $5,000, and the Chef Jet Pro, a step up from the Chef Jet, sells for double the price: $10, 000.
Both the ChefJet and the ChefJet Pro are able to make delicious sugary confections your family will probably clamor for. The two 3D food printers can be seen at the booth of US-based firm 3D Systems (3DS). The ChefJet turns out black-and-white colored single-flavor candy when you supply it with the simple ingredients of sugar, water, “ink” sold by 3DS, and a flavor package. Mint, vanilla, watermelon, cherry, and sour apple are among the available flavors. Both printers can also make cake toppings and garnishes. The ChefJet Pro can create candy in a variety of colors.
The original idea for a 3D printer like the ChefJet and the ChefJet Pro came from the husband and wife team of Kyle and Liz von Hasseln and their Sugar Lab company created the first prototypes. 3DS Systems liked what they saw, and bought the company.
The white plastic and metal 3D printers might not look that special, but they showcase some of the latest cutting-edge 3D technology when it comes to food printing. Both the ChefJet and ChefJet Pro are examples of 3D food printers that one day will be able to produce a wide variety of recipes for your dinner table, though these two models are aimed at a main target audience made up of professionals, and applications will include creating fantastical sugary shapes for wedding cakes and parties that couldn’t otherwise be created.
The ChefJet and ChefJet Pro both resemble ovens. Sugar is deposited into a tray, layer by layer. Then, the sugar which is intended for the sculptured parts of the candy get melted with water, shaped, and then the sugary confections resolidify.
Neither 3D printer is available on the market yet, but the ChefJet “is expected to be available in the second half of 2014,” according to a 3DS spokesperson.
You can design whatever shape you want the candy to look like using your computer. The ultimate shape is limited only by your imagination, as some of the examples attendees at the CES could see. The sugary candies sometime resembled examples of origami more than edible treats.
Another 3D printer that can create food items that was at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (CES) is called the ChocoByte printer. It’s a product put out by Solid Idea, an Australian company. The CEO of the company is Quinn Karaitiana, and the 3D food printer will be priced in the $99 range. Put in liquid chocolate, and the 3D printer will create chocolate bars in a variety of shapes.
Other 3D food printers are on their way soon. For example, the Foodini system built by the Barcelona company, Natural Machines, is able to make pasta, pizza, and chocolate items, and the British company, Choc Edge, has 3D printers for sale which makes chocolate candy in a variety of printed patterns. Even NASA is intrigued with the idea, and has looked into using 3D food printers to make food like pizza for astronauts, so that their diets won’t be quite as dull and unvaried.
3D food printers like the ChefJet, the ChefJet Pro, and the ChocoByte printer that were featured at the CES are the wave of the future, when it comes to kitchen appliances. Though these 3D printers might only be available at first to professionals in the food industry, they will become inevitably also become available for home use.
Written by: Douglas Cobb