A look at the ChefJet
Earlier this month at CES (the consumer electronics show), 3D Systems , a leading provider of 3D printing devices, announced a new product - the ChefJet. The Chefjet is a 3D printer that prints in sugar.
There are currently two versions. The Chefjet is a countertop version that prints in monochrome. It has a maximum build dimension of 8x8x6” and is to be priced in the sub $5,000 range.
The Chefjet Pro is the full colour, larger format; with a maximum build dimension of 10x14x8”. It is to be priced in the sub $10,000 range.
How It Works
The printer works by rolling a thin layer of sugar granules over the printing surface and then it binds them together with a thin stream of water according to the designated design - repeating until the whole piece is complete. The sugar recrystallizes together and forms a sturdy structure once dry.
Current flavors include Chocolate, vanilla, mint, sour apple, cherry and watermelon.
Partnering with professionals
Throughout the development process leading up to CES, The developers of the Chefjet worked closely with local chefs. They gathered opinions and ideas, then worked with the chefs to test them. Now, not long after their CES event, 3D Systems announced a multi year joint development agreement with Hershey - the largest chocolate producer in North America. This is a very exciting agreement. Hershey will be bringing their world class food science and manufacturing knowledge to 3D Systems, to help develop their 3D edibles printing products. While 3D Systems will be bringing their 3D printing technology to Hershey so that they can develop new and interesting products.
Together, they plan to “Co-develop a variety of 3D printed chocolate and non-chocolate products” and “Commercialize [a] new class of consumer and prosumer 3D printers for edibles”
At the current price points, the Chefjet is just a dream to the average consumer, but for successful confectioners and cake decorators this may be a new must-have tool in their arsenal. They could use it to create custom decorations for cakes and desserts, or make advanced centerpieces and sculptures. It will certainly be interesting to see some of the commercial uses.
Unlike with other 3D printers, the user doesn't need to know how to use fancy 3D modeling software to develop their designs. 3D Systems has developed a special, easy to use piece of software named “The Digital Cookbook”. With one of the largest barriers to entry of 3D printing gone, the adoption rate for the Chefjet should be quite high.
It will be available for sale in the second half of 2014.
Personally, I find this news exciting and while I'd love to have one, I think it's better in the long run to wait. The technology will only become more advanced and less expensive with time. That being said, it's only a matter of time until food printing becomes commonplace. I can already imagine some of the intricate garnish pieces I could print for my desserts.
Time to start saving up.
Care to discuss? Leave a comment below, I will personally reply to all of them.