This printer eats sugar, drinks water and churns out black and white sugar candies with single
LAS VEGAS: In terms of appearance, there is nothing special about ChefJet. Made of white
plastic and metal, it looks like any other kitchen appliance. In fact, it looks boring than most
kitchen appliances. It has few buttons. If you peer into it, you may see some components but
there is seemingly nothing cutting edge about them. But don't let the looks fool you. ChefJet is
first of many "food printers" expected to make way to our kitchens in future. This printer eats
sugar, drinks water and churns out black and white sugar candies with single flavour.
ChefJet Pro, the big brother of ChefJet, can do the same. But it can also add some bright colours
to your candies.
At Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the two printers and the candies created by them
were on display at the booth of 3D Systems (3DS), a company based in the US.
"Food is an incredible platform for creativity, experimentation, and celebration and we are
thrilled to place these powerful 3D printers in bakers and chefs' kitchens," Liz von Hasseln,
creative director food products, 3DS, said in a note to media. "We invite leading pastry chefs,
restaurateurs and event planners to join us in bringing 3D printing into the kitchen."
Both ChefJet and ChefJet Pro are aimed at professionals, at least for now. These are costly
machines and while 3DS has not yet revealed the exact price of the machines, it has said that
ChefJet would cost less than $5,000 while ChefJet Pro would cost less than $10,000.
Both machines primarily support candy designs created using computers. In terms of design
limitations, there seems to be virtually none in terms of core technology. The shape and design
candies take will be limited only by the imagination of the chef.
Apart from candies, both 3D printers can also print out cake toppings and garnishes. As raw
material these machines will use the "ink" sold by 3DS. "ChefJet printable materials come in a
variety of recipes, including chocolate, vanilla, mint, sour apple, cherry and watermelon. ChefJet
is expected to be available in the second half of 2014," said a 3DS spokesperson.
Just a few booths away from the one set by 3DS, there was Quinn Karaitiana, CEO of Solid Idea
from Australia, showing his company's latest 3D printer. Expected to be priced at just $99,
ChocoByte printer can gobble up the liquid chocolate and then churn out cute brown chocolate
bars in different shapes.
ChocoByte doesn't look as polished as ChefJet, which is clearly ready for the prime time. But
Karaitiana explained that it was because the product he was showing at CES was a prototype.
"We were racing against the time to be here at CES. We put together this particular prototype
just days before our flight to Las Vegas," said Karaitiana as he held the printer in his hand.
ChocoByte is much smaller than ChefJet. Consequentially, it will also create smaller chocolates.
It is also like a semi-automatic solution unlike ChefJet that uses a much sophisticated system. To
print chocolates bars through ChocoByte, users will have to first heat the chocolate cartridges -
Solid Idea will sell 4 for $10.
"Then a user will have put the heated cartridge into the printer. A machine will create a hard
chocolate print in the design of your choice in less than 10 min. It will be eatable," said
Just like ChefJet, ChcoByte will also use computer assisted designs to create its chocobars.
As 3D printers gain popularity and get cheaper, they are no longer cool tools used by hobbyists.
Various companies, including the well-known MakerBot, are coming out with new machines that
are faster and more precise at printing 3D objects.
Food items like candies and chocolates look like obvious objects to print. At least that was the
sentiment at the part of the CES where 3D printers were on display. The idea of printing food
looks so obvious that even NASA is dabbling into it. Last year in September the space agency
announced that it was exploring options to use 3D printers so that its astronauts can get
personalized food during space missions in future.