3D Print Your Food with the ChefJet

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What Can You Make with a 3d Chef Jet Food Printer?

The first thought that enters one’s mind while considering what you can make with a 3D printer, is most often entirely unrelated to food. As of the second half of 2014 however, it is possible to enter the 3D food printing business with the help of ChefJet. This nifty little gadget is the first commercial 3D food printer and the soon-to-be the new microwave of the decade.

3D print food with the Chef Jet
The Chef Jet Pro 3D Food Printer

 Necessity Is the Mother of Invention

ChefJet made its debut at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. The brainchild of husband and wife team Liz and Kyle von Hasseln, was as with most inventions, brought into being through necessity. After going so far as to buy the ingredients to bake a cake, the freshly graduated architecture students realised that they didn’t have even an oven in their new apartment.

With a spoonful of distraction they considered how convenient it might be to use their 3D printer to create sugary treats. They ultimately modified their existing 3D printer into a food-safe printer and thus the ChefJet was born. Using sugar as a substrate, the duo constructed architecturally inspired, complex and seamless, edible 3D creations.

How the ChefJet 3D Printer Works

There are a bunch of varying 3D printing methods, machines and processes, the ChefJet uses ‘fuse deposition modelling technology’. It works by forming alternating layers of sugar substrate with layers of water.

Any single object requires thousands of iterations or layers of this exact process in order to build up the 3D object. The combination of water and sugar harden to form the final product. Without flavouring, the sugary shapes taste like marshmallow and fondant. All of the required consumables are also available through the manufacturer of the ChefJet, thus ensuring reliable quality prints based on good quality consumables such as sugar, flavouring and chocolate… Did we mention chocolate?

3D Printed Chocolate!

Using the same process as the sugar confections, the ChefJet has also been tested using chocolate as a medium. The process requires the dry ingredients of milk powder, cocoa powder and sugar, with cocoa butter as the wet ingredient. The combination produces a rich flavour and a creamy texture. The process is so simple, even Hershey’s chocolate giant has taken steps to collaborate with ChefJet.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately for the ChefJet to become a household appliance the cost of the machine would have to drop to consumer level, however at this stage the product is actually aimed at food and cuisine professionals. That said, you can still purchase the ChefJet for roughly 5000 USD, and the ChefJet Pro (for colour prints) for about 10 000 USD.

3D Print Chocolate with the Chef Jet
Using the 3D Printer

Bakers, pastry chefs, cake masters, high-end event planners and restaurateurs, do not need a degree in CAD to operate the machine. The software has been designed to be intuitive and easy to use, while still able to produce complicated cake toppers, structural components etc, to such exacting standards that the final product resembles expensive china.

Of course the ChefJet is also fully NSF and UL certified to ensure that the 3D printer meets safety and sanitation standards.

A Growing Business

In its first incarnation the company was named Sugar Lab, after which it was bought over by 3D Systems in 2013. The von Hasselns’ still preside as creative directors of the Food Products department within 3D Systems, ensuring that their pride and joy continues to evolve as a viable alternative to other methods of manufacturing. Food Products’ are working with food technologists to expand their business to include starches, spices and proteins in the future.

… And now you know what you can make with a 3d printer. All you need is a ChefJet and you’ll be ready to print.

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