It has been several weeks since I posted anything on this blog. However, the Digital Pastry is not on vacation: I am preparing the launch of our first product! It converts any desktop 3d printer into a food 3D printer. This article is an opportunity to tell you a little more about the project.
5 good reasons to 3d print food at home
When I started the Digital Pastry Project a year ago, I looked to transform one of the desktop 3d printers I owned to 3D print food.
Here are the reasons for my approach, and today these are still good reasons to start 3d printing in your kitchen!
- It’s a lower investment compared to the purchase of a ready-made food 3d printer
- I have little space, and I could save space instead of having an additional 3d printer
- I learn better how it works, the advantages and the limitations by doing it myself
- The 3d printer, that I am using for installing the kit, takes more use value, since it is able to print 2 families of materials (thermoplastics / food)
In addition to all of this, the pandemic made me realize that our role at the Digital Pastry is to empower all 3d printer owners. The “manufacturer rescuers” demonstrated the extraordinary capabilities of 3d printing and this changed the mission of our company, as I relate in this article.
So that became the 5th good reason. With this kit, we can increase the resilience of our society by allowing as many people as possible to 3d print food.
Initially, we chose to focus on the desktop FDM 3d printer. We have come up with a kit to easily convert a personal 3d printer into a 3d printer for cooking.
1 pastry chef + 2 engineers on the project
Before detailing the kit, let me introduce you to the project team. It started in April, and initially I worked with Corentin Olivencia. Corentin came for an engineering school graduation internship (UTBM) at Digital Pastry at the beginning of February. But the confinement forced us to close the offices, and we found ourselves working from home, 500 km away.
Difficult under these conditions to achieve his internship around the food 3D printers that we are developing. On the other hand, we each have a personal 3d printer in our home.
For a year, I wanted to rework the principle of a kit that can be used at home for 3d printing food. In July 2019, I bought the 3Drag chocolate kit but I was not satisfied. We therefore started from the problems encountered during the testing of chocolate or royal icing and we thought about another extrusion system.
Corentin worked on the initial designs for the product and performed the first tests at his home. He finished his internship at the beginning of July and after a lot of testing, I went over the design again with another mechanical engineer, in order to get the final product.
How does the desktop 3d printer kit work?
During the design phase, we listed the constraints to take into account. I copy the main points here:
- We should be able to intall the extruder on as many desktop 3d printer models as possible.
- The kit should be easy to install and uninstall so that you can easily switch between 3d plastic printing and 3d food printing.
- All parts must meet food contact standards and be really easy to wash.
- The system should limit shrinkage and pressurization problems for clean 3d prints.
- Have a larger capacity than a conventional syringe to allow long 3d printing.
- No need to develop specific software, the kit must be able to work with open source slicers on the market.
So we started out on the principle of a endless screw that fits into an aluminum tube. A coupler connects it to a Nema 17 motor on one side. On the other, a nozzle allows you to attach a desktop 3d printer nozzle.
It’s simple and it’s in open source.
Because we believe that our added value is not in the design of the product. We will sell the kit containing the parts already manufactured, with materials meeting all food standards.
We have sourced the parts and we are ready to inject a first series from the moment we have orders.
In the end, the kit works for Cartesian type FDM 3D printers, but that already represents a lot of models on the market. We have succesfully tested it on Ultimaker, Anet, Anycubic and Crealty desktop 3d printers.
3d printing edible materials in the kitchen
From the day we started to be satisfied with the kit, we cooked several preparations in our respective kitchens and used different 3d slicers.
As you can imagine, we started with standard 3d printing nozzles, on large diameters of 0.8 or 1 mm.
Thanks to this test period, we understood the key word for material: REPEATABILITY!!
And it’s not easy with aging foods. For example, an egg does not contain the same percentage of water over time, and above all this percentage is not constant from one egg to another.
From the results, I realized that the kit should come with recipes and ready-to-use powders. Everyone is free to experiment and make their own recipe. But at the beginning, to be sure with the first edible 3d prints, it’s cooler to have a ready-to-use mix.
Because the most important thing is to be able to have fun with your 3d printer in the kitchen!
Here are some examples of our 3d food prints
I have told enough about the life of the Digital Pastry, so let’s show the 3d prints made. There is a lot of sweet but also salty snacks. Working on a vegan mix is what occupies me right now!
The next steps before having the desktop 3d printer kit at home
By the end of the month, we’ll be running a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. The goal is to raise enough money to pay for the injection molds (current estimate of € 25k).
The kit will contain both the mechanical parts, a silicone mat to protect the printer, ready-to-use edible mixes as well as distance training to become familiar with the principles of hygiene.
It may seem strange to you, but there are topics that you should never skimp on. Cooking without contamination is one of them.
To conclude, here is the project summarized in the form of a timeline.
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