Robot Prints Custom Design Inside Drinks

Chris Albrecht wrote . . . . . . . . .

We’ve seen 3D printers create cake decorations, personalized vitamins, and even cultured beef. And now, thanks to Print a Drink’s robot, we’ve seen custom designs printed inside a cocktail. You might think such beverage witchcraft would be impossible. I mean, how could a design be suspended and hold its shape in anything other than a jello shot? Turns out it just takes the right drink, the right droplet and the precision of a robotic arm.

Based in Austria, Print a Drink has actually been around for three years. It was started by Benjamin Greimel as a university research project. Since that time, Print a Drink has created two working robots (one in the U.S. and one in Europe) that up until the pandemic would travel to special events and conferences printing out custom designs inside drinks at parties and such.

So how does it work? Print a Drink uses a robotic arm with a custom-made printer head attached to it. The robot uses a glass needle to inject a food-grade, oil-based liquid inside a drink. The drink itself needs to be less than 40 percent alcohol and can’t be a straight shot of something like vodka or whiskey because the injected beads won’t hold and will float to the surface. Greimel explained to me via video chat this week that the combination of liquid density, temperature and robotic movement allow the designs to last for roughly 10 minutes before dissipating.

Coordinating all those puzzle pieces is complicated to say the least. In addition to setting up the robot at an event and operating it, there are specific requirements around drinks that can be used, and designs need to be uploaded into the robot. Plus, there are safety concerns because the robotic arm does move about pretty quickly. Because of all those reasons, Print a Drink’s business has been around renting the robot ($2,500 – $5,000, depending on the event) and not selling them outright. In addition to all of the complications above, staff would need to be trained properly on how to use the machine, and chances are good that the people operating the devices are not roboticists who can troubleshoot.

To make Print a Drink more accessible, Greimel and his partner (the only two people at the company) have developed a smaller, self-contained version of the robot that is roughly the size of a countertop coffee machine. But don’t expect a consumer version for your next backyard soirée. This smaller version is still complicated, and still requires training, so the company is targeting large corporations like Disney or a hotel chain like Hilton where it could be installed and used for special events or promotions. Greimel said the first prototype of this smaller Print a Drink will be available in the next week.

Though more specialized, Print a Drink is part of a bigger automation movement happening with booze right now. In addition to robot-powered bars like Glacierfire popping up, we’re also seeing automated drink dispensing vending machines from Rotender and Celia start to hit the market. It’s not hard to see all of these types of robots working in tandem, however, with a robo-bartender pumping out standard cocktails, while Print a Drink prints up specialty drinks customized for special occasions. We’ll drink to that.

Source: The Spoon

Polaroid Made a Pen That Lets You Draw Pieces of Candy

Andrew Liszewski wrote . . . . . . . . .

There are 3D-printing pens that let prolific doodlers turn their drawings into three-dimensional sculptures, but all users are really left with is a piece of art. Polaroid’s taking 3D-printing pens one step further by replacing extruded plastic with melted candy so that when your masterpiece is complete, you can eat it.

The Polaroid CandyPlay 3D Pen isn’t an entirely new idea; we’ve already seen 3D printers upgraded so they extrude edible material instead of PLA plastic, and kids have had access to a printing pen that extrudes melted chocolate since 2015. What sets the CandyPlay 3D Pen apart is that it’s entirely freehand, so anyone can dive right in and start creating without having to learn to use software to design or prep a 3D model first. And unlike the chocolate pen, the candy material used here is rigid enough when cool that it can be layered to slowly build up 3D models.

Out of the box the CandyPlay 3D Pen, which sells for about US$50, comes with four strawberry-flavored candy cartridges that appear to be much easier and cleaner to load than trying to dump a handful of sugar into the pen. In fact, while there are six different sweet flavors to choose from (strawberry, orange, apple, grape, lemon, and cola) the edible printing material is apparently sugar-free.

The candy cartridges don’t look especially large, maybe the size of a couple of Jolly Ranchers, which means that if 3D candy becomes your artistic medium of choice, you’ll probably go through them rather quickly. Refills for each flavor are available, but at about US$28 for 40 candy cartridges (or around US$32 for the multi-flavor 48-pack), it sounds like Polaroid is taking the inkjet printer route and making most of its money on the refills. If the device catches on, however, you can expect to see cheaper third-party refills become available at more competitive prices.

Using Polaroid’s CandyPlay 3D Pen seems easy enough: You plug it in (there’s no rechargeable battery), wait for an LED to tell you the heating mechanism is warm enough, and then press a button to intermittently extrude the sticky material, or set it to flow freely until you tell it to stop if you don’t feel like holding down a button all the time. What you create is completely up to your imagination and skill level, but Polaroid recommends starting with some traceable stencils it will provide for download on its site so users can familiarize themselves with how the pen works. It’s likely not as easy as using a ballpoint pen or a Sharpie, but the payoff seems more delicious than trying to lick ink off a page.

Source: Gizmodo

3D Printed Food: How Meat and Vegetables Personalised by Machines can Help People Eat Better

Anna Salva wrote . . . . . . . . .

Broccoli, 3D-printed into unusual shapes to tempt a picky toddler. Beef stew, produced in the same way to make it easy to swallow for an elderly relative. Pork and potatoes, also rendered by a machine for a patient with oral cancer who can’t chew.

Advances in 3D-printing mean printed food is becoming increasingly mainstream. It is deconstructed and modified for nutritional content and visual appeal, before being reconstructed as a meal.

The old and the unwell stand to benefit the most from this food revolution – experts say there is an urgent need to analyse the food and nutritional needs of elderly people, as the proportion of the world’s population over 65 is expected to grow from 25 per cent to 40 per cent by 2030.

“Difficulty swallowing and chewing, together with loss of appetite and changes in the perception of taste and smell, are important factors in the prevalence of malnutrition in the elderly,” says Berta Alvarez, director of research and development at Biozoon, a German company that produces 3D-printed food items.

Alvarez works on the creation of innovative foods with a modified texture – foods designed for the elderly and those with chewing and swallowing problems.

Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, affects more than a third of old people and impairs their ability to consume normal food, she says. The elderly often have problems with their teeth, refuse meals, eat very small portions and prefer easy-to-eat foods over food that might better provide the nutrients they need.

Apart from 3D-printed food being easier to swallow, the amounts of sugar, salt and fat can also be controlled. “The idea is that dishes such as pork with potatoes can be printed on a large scale, directly on a plate with 3D printers in nursing homes,” Alvarez says.

Singapore’s Food Innovation and Resource Centre is providing food companies with technical expertise in developing new products and processes. The centre was launched in 2007 by Singapore Polytechnic and Enterprise Singapore, a government agency championing business development.

Evelyn Ong, the centre’s senior project manager, says coming up with a tailored menu for every person with an eating difficulty is not easy, which is why her team is working on more general ways to solve the problem.

“3D food printing is the technology we are researching with the intent of addressing the problem of customisation of nutrition according to individual needs,” she says.

In 2019, Russian astronauts 3D-printed a steak aboard the International Space Station. Aleph Farms, an Israeli start-up that had been working on growing beef fillets in a lab for some time, was the food company behind the event. Cells are harvested from a cow and grown in a nutrient broth that simulates the environment in the animal’s body. The result is a thin piece of meat that mimics the texture and flavour of traditional beef.

Scientists packed the cells and broth into small jars and put them in a magnetic printer made by the Russian company Bioprinting Solutions on the spacecraft, ready to be printed by the astronauts when they were in space. The result returned, uneaten, to Earth on October 3.

Anrich3D, a Singaporean start-up, is working on a project that takes into account individual nutritional preferences, where users can input their specific ingredient requirements and preferences via an app. The idea is to provide meals for people who want to be careful about what they eat, as well as to produce food that will encourage children to eat healthily.

Anirudh Agarwal, founder of Anrich3D, says some foods, such as leafy vegetables, whole grains and fruit, can be unappealing to children. They can be persuaded into eating these foods, he believes, if the food came in the shapes of their favourite characters or were used as part of a game.

“With enough shapes, we can create a narrative game where kids unlock new, more desirable shapes if they get enough points by finishing [their food],” he says, adding that children could also be asked to identify the ingredients and nutritional content of what they’re eating. The characters, ingredients and complexity of the game could be adjusted with daily feedback from the child, Agarwal says.

Personalised nutrition using 3D-printing can also be adapted to an individual’s medical history and dietary needs, he adds. Since 3D-printed food begins as a paste, overall food waste could be reduced. For example, machine-made meals could use ingredients that, though still edible, look unappealing and can’t be sold.

However, there are risks in using 3D technology to prepare meals, says Jose Esquinas, an agronomist – someone who studies the ways plants can be grown and used to our advantage – who has worked at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation for two decades.

If the consumer cannot see what is going into the prepared food, they might not believe the best ingredients are being used, he says.

“Presentation is fundamental”, as how food looks is just as important as how it tastes, he says. Also important is eating “fresh, local products without preservatives or additives” – which can’t be done with 3D-printed food.

Jodi Koberinski, a food systems expert at Non-GMO Toronto – a group of organisations in Canada working to increase awareness around GMO (genetically modified organism) issues – says there is no need to unnecessarily process food.

“It assigns a lot of knowledge we don’t have and is laden with ethical issues,” she explains. “Diet … is not man-made in the sense of the hyper-individualism and disconnect that the 3D-food approach takes.”

One five-star-hotel chef in Bangkok in Thailand, who prefers to remain anonymous, says he sees little difference between using a 3D printer and a piping bag, beyond the fact that one is controlled by a computer and one by the human hand.

“For me, it’s just using a fancy, catchy term to promote a technique that is not new to cooking,” he says. “It just sounds better when you ‘3D’ print instead of just layering or making a terrine.”

For the moment, though, the large-scale production of 3D food is limited by various factors. Ong says there is a limit to the range of food textures that can be extruded and that can hold their shape for a period of time.

“This may pose challenges to the kitchen,” she says, adding that menus may need to be modified to take into account the capacity of 3D printers. This depends on the complexity of the form and the type of printer. Currently, it takes more than 15 minutes to 3D-print a drumlet, the upper part of a chicken wing, and about 10 minutes to print a small floret of broccoli. This capacity is likely to accelerate as 3D printers are further enhanced.

Despite the current limitations, Agarwal says he sees a world where there are “3D food printers in every office cafeteria, restaurant, hotel and fully automated vending machines everywhere, so that no matter where you are, or when, you can always get the best food from anywhere”.

Source: SCMP

Meat of the Future: KFC Explores the Use of Bioprinter to Produce Chicken Nuggets

KFC is taking the next step in its innovative concept of creating a “restaurant of the future” by launching the development of innovative 3D bioprinting technology to create chicken meat in cooperation with the 3D Bioprinting Solutions research laboratory. The idea of ​​crafting the “meat of the future” arose among partners in response to the growing popularity of a healthy lifestyle and nutrition, the annual increase in demand for alternatives to traditional meat and the need to develop more environmentally friendly methods of food production. The project aims to create the world’s first laboratory-produced chicken nuggets. They will be as close as possible in both taste and appearance to the original KFC product, while being more environmentally friendly to produce than ordinary meat. Receiving a final product for testing is already planned for the fall of 2020 in Moscow.

3D Bioprinting Solutions is developing additive bioprinting technology using chicken cells and plant material, allowing it to reproduce the taste and texture of chicken meat almost without involving animals in the process. KFC will provide its partner with all of the necessary ingredients, such as breading and spices, to achieve the signature KFC taste. At the moment, there are no other methods available on the market that could allow the creation of such complex products from animal cells.

The bioprinting method has several advantages. Biomeat has exactly the same microelements as the original product, while excluding various additives that are used in traditional farming and animal husbandry, creating a cleaner final product. Cell-based meat products are also more ethical – the production process does not cause any harm to animals. Along with that, KFC remains committed to continuous improvement in animal welfare from the farm and through all aspects of our supply chain, including raising, handling, transportation and processing.

Also, according to a study by the American Environmental Science & Technology Journal, the technology of growing meat from cells has minimal negative impact on the environment, allowing energy consumption to be cut by more than half, greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced 25 fold and 100 times less land to be used than traditional farm-based meat production.

“At KFC, we are closely monitoring all of the latest trends and innovations and doing our best to keep up with the times by introducing advanced technologies to our restaurant networks. Crafted meat products are the next step in the development of our “restaurant of the future” concept. Our experiment in testing 3D bioprinting technology to create chicken products can also help address several looming global problems. We are glad to contribute to its development and are working to make it available to thousands of people in Russia and, if possible, around the world”, said Raisa Polyakova, General Manager of KFC Russia & CIS.

“3D bioprinting technologies, initially widely recognized in medicine, are nowadays gaining popularity in producing foods such as meat. In the future, the rapid development of such technologies will allow us to make 3D-printed meat products more accessible and we are hoping that the technology created as a result of our cooperation with KFC will help accelerate the launch of cell-based meat products on the market”, said Yusef Khesuani, co-founder and Managing Partner of 3D Bioprinting Solutions.

Scientists all over the world are working hard on solutions that would allow stable food provision for the growing global population while reducing the negative impact on the environment. The use of technologies based on 3D bioprinting may become a promising field in this area.

Source : KFC

Vegan 3D Printed Steaks are Launching in Restaurants This Year

Redefine Meat has unveiled the world’s first plant-based steak, Alt-Steak, created using innovative 3D printing methods.

The ground-breaking plant-based steak will be available to try in select high-end Israeli restaurants later this year with the company hoping to make it more widely available by 2021 following the market trial.

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in awareness of the sustainability issues deriving from our current meat consumption and its damaging impact on the environment.


Rehovot-based company Redefine Meat understands that in order to create a meat alternative that can be enjoyed by all, including the most ardent of meat-lovers, it must mimic the texture, flavour, and appearance of beef steak.

In order to create a realistic steak that’s completely vegan, Redefine Meat has worked with leading butchers, chefs, food technologists to replicate the ‘texture, juiciness, fat distribution, and mouthfeel’ of beef.

The 3D printed steak might look, taste, and feel like beef but it’s made from soy proteins, pea proteins, coconut fat, and sunflower oil, plus natural colours and flavourings and contains no animal ingredients.

Tasty and affordable

Co-Founder of Redefine Meat, Eshchar Ben-Shitrit, said that the company has worked hard to create a ‘tasty and affordable plant-based alternative to steaks’.

Ben-Shitrit said Redefine Meat is proud to have created a product using technologies that will “accelerate the development of a wide range of alt-meat whole muscle products and create a sustainable alternative to raising and eating animals.”

Ben-Shitrit continued, “The importance of using precision 3D printing technology to achieve texture, color and flavor—and the combinations between them—cannot be overstated. By using separate formulations for muscle, fat and blood, we can focus on each individual aspect of creating the perfect Alt-Steak product.

“This is unique to our 3D printing technology and lets us achieve unprecedented control of what happens inside the matrix of alt-meat. Collaborating with an industry-leader like Givaudan has led to the creation of an Alt-Steak product that is not only healthy and sustainable, but also offers the satisfying flavors, textures and aromas of eating actual meat.”Redefine Meat’s Alt-Steak products will be put to the test at a limited number of leading chef restaurants later this year. Incorporating feedback from high-level chefs and butchers, the company will then ramp up production of its 3D meat printers and alt-meat formulations ahead of market distribution in 2021.

Source: Vegan Food & Living