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3-D Printers

3-D Printers and the future of candy

It’s not ‘if’ but ’when’ they will start to make a difference in the food industry.

March 26, 2014
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3D Systems 3D printer candy
Candy created with a 3D printer made by 3D Systems. Photo provided.

I’m pretty sure we’re finally about to have the one piece of technology from The Jetsons and Back to the Future II that I really, really wanted — an instant food-maker thingy. (I’m totally trade-marking that name, BTW). 

It seems a company named 3D Systems recently was down at SXSW, showing off some of their amazing new 3D printers.

The most intriguing of which is — a presto, change-o, candy creator! 

Crystal Lindell
Crystal Lindell

“3D Systems, one of the largest makers of 3-D printers, [was] handing out colorful, sculptural candy printed by the company’s line of “ChefJet” printers,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “The printers use sugar, water and alcohol as the building blocks for its candy, which taste sugary and fruity.”

And that’s just the beginning of what 3D Systems is hoping to do with candy. The company also recently announced a multi-year partnership with Hershey, although the two companies have yet to show off any of their combined efforts.

 “Eventually, many consumers might own units that print out many product purchases, offering instant gratification and changing the face of traditional product creation and distribution,” CBS News writes.

In other words, we could soon be able to walk over the Hershey instant food-marker thingy in the kitchen, press “Hershey bar with almonds and sprinkles” and voilà! — a Hershey bar with almonds and sprinkles will instantly appear for our enjoyment!

I’m so excited about the idea that I’m almost scared to think it could ever really happen.

Of course, if someone would have told my 11-year-old self that one day I would have a magical phone with no wires that I could use to find coupons for candy, directions to any Taco Bell anywhere and to calculate the square root of 3 billion, I would have totally thought that was crazy too.

So ya, technology is always more amazing than we think it will be.

And now, it’s advancing at such an hypersonic rate, that I think, maybe, it won’t be long before all of us really do have 3D printers in the kitchen — which we can then use to make any food we want as long as it’s hooked up to the internet machine in the living room.

In fact, CBS News reports that 3D Systems already is well on its way to making the instant food-maker thingy a reality, at least commercially.

“The machine, which will be commercially available, is called the ChefJet, with the line starting at $5,000 and expected availability in the second half of this year,” the website reports.

And even though that’s still a few steps away from my kitchen counter, it could be a huge innovation for confectionery manufacturers.

CBS News says that while the 3D printers aren’t known for their speed, they offer a previously unheard of versatility, allowing manufacturers to switch out what they’re creating without setting up an entirely new production line.

“There's also the possibility of decentralized manufacturing,” CBS News says. “Companies can create smaller facilities near customers and create a variety of items, speeding delivery and increasing responsiveness to demand.”

In other words, Hershey could have a small factory in Chicago, and then another one in Madison, Wis., and another one in Indianapolis, and all three could be making products specifically for the local market and delivering them to the local stores that afternoon.

So this is it, candy people. It is time to start accepting the 3D printing revolution — or at least, to Google the words, “3D printer.” Because, whether you’re a small confectioner looking for a leg up, or a big manufacturer trying to capture that artisan feeling, this is just the beginning of the future of manufacturing. Isn’t it exciting? 

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