The Dutch have been among the first to envision consumer 3D printing applications and it seems that they will be among the first to introduce food 3D printing applications to the public, as well. As first reported by the guys at FabLab Maastricht, the Albert Hejin (AH XL) supermarket in Eindhoven has started offering chocolate 3D printed decorations on cakes. And it may be the first commercial venue (certainly the first large supermarket) to do so.
The new experimental service used a Doodle3D to let the customers design their own personalized decorations. The highly accessible sketching tool then sent the STL files to a byFlow portable 3D printer. Developed by a team which has affiliations with FabLab Maastricht and Maastricht University, the byFlow is a truly portable 3D printer which folds up into a briefcase. Through easy-to-exchange alternative extruders, it can 3D print with several different types of paste materials, including, of course, molten chocolate.
For the opening day, the AH XL 3D bakers used Nutella, a popular chocolate and hazelnut cream which is easier to 3D print, since it is already creamy and does not need to be heated up significantly. In the following days, real chocolate will also be used to form more complex 3D structures. If the pilot proves successful – as it has been in the first days – it will be extended to the other 30 supermarkets of the Dutch chain.
With 3D Systems presenting two commercial food 3D printers due to hit the market before the end of the year, and the World Expo exhibit taking place in Milan focusing primarily on food and nutrition, 2015 is all set to be the year for the true commercial adoption of 3D printing technologies in food. The road to getting a 3D printer inside people’s houses may very well begin from the kitchen… and their stomachs.