Wednesday, 27 August 2014

F3D, a prototype 3d printer for food

Back in February I was contacted by Hillel Baderman, one of a group of 4 talented undergraduates from Imperial College London. They were developing a novel 3d printer capable of printing, as well as cooking, food pastes.


CAD render of the 3d food printer design - all images from www.f3dprinter.com

At the time several solutions existed for printing with different pastes, the most well known in the the RepRap world was RichRap's Paste extruder, and there was a great writeup of Unfold Fab's work with clays in issue 3 of the RepRap magazine. For this project they wanted to go a couple of steps further, with 3 paste extruders and have the printer cook the extruded food. 

Additionally, they wanted the printer to be made largely from open source material in spirit of the RepRap community. The Duet+Duex4 combo provided an ideal solution for their food-printing/cooking project, as it allows printing with up to five different extruders. They edited the RepRap firmware to suit a paste extrusion system and added a relay to control the Halogen oven.

Here is a video of it printing "F", "3", "D" letter cookies:



Cooking is achieved using a 1400W halogen oven which allows for fast heat up and a simple control mechanism.

The crowning glory of the prototype system is the ability to print a pizza; dough, tomato puree and soft cheese!


The three stages to printing and cooking the pizza.

Their prototype proved to be very successful – their final version printer could print the pizza in just 20 minutes and it certainly looks more appetizing than some of my student creations ever did.

They published the full project work online at http://www.f3dprinter.com/. A great achievement in a short time and I really hope they can continue to work on this and take it further!

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