Washington Restaurant Market Watch: 3D printing poised to have big impact on restaurants

Washington Restaurant Market Watch: 3D printing poised to have big impact on restaurants https://wahospitality.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/3dprinting1-800x198.jpg

By Paul Schlienz

3D printers are poised to enter the foodservice industry in a major way.

Rock Hill, S.C.-based 3D Systems, the inventor and initial commercializer of 3D printing technology, introduced its ChefJet Pro at last month’s NRA Show, in Chicago. The ChefJet Pro is the food world’s first professional-grade 3D printer for the food world. It will go on sale in 2016.

So, what is ChefJet, and how does it work? In a nutshell, it is a large, box-like printer that is able to turn sugars and other ingredients into edible and beautiful treats. This device can print confections of many flavors and colors. It is so versatile that it can even print words down to an 8-point font.

The ChefJet is able to print two vertical inches per hour, and can also print 100 two-inch candies per hour. Although the printer is currently being used to make sugars and candies, which in turn, can be printed into intricate designs, topping cakes or acting as fancy sugar cubes, there are many more potential applications.

“This is a new era of culinary,” Carrie Kommers, a consultant for 3D Systems, told Nation’s Restaurant News. “This enables culinarians to make things they couldn’t do with their hands. It’s another tool in their belt.”

3D printers were originally developed early in the 1980s. They were commercialized in the early 1990s. During the intervening 20 years, 3D printing technology has been put to use, making items as varied as aircraft turbine engines and human organs.

3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing. Printers utilize designs created with software or scanned with 3D scanners, and use successive layers of material to create an object. A 3D printer is comparable to an ink-jet printer that puts multiple layers of material over the same space, creating three-dimensional objects instead of two-dimensional prints.

While 3D Systems’ ChefJet is not yet on the market, other culinary 3D printing systems are finding their way into restaurants, receiving rave reviews from customers and chefs alike.

“I am using the 3D printer in my restaurant and I like to use it in front of customers so that they can participate and see how I am making their food, and I’ve had really good feedback from my customers,” Mateo Blanch, from the La Boscana restaurant, in Lleida, Spain, told International Business Times.

According to Blanch, who uses the Focus 3D printer by Dutch manufacturer By Flow, 3D printing has the potential to completely transform restaurant cuisine by saving time, thus enabling chefs to be more creative.

“It has changed the way I work with food,” said Blanch. “I now work with the 3D printer to make forms and shapes that would have been impossible to make so quickly by hand. I am capable of a level of precision that would never have been possible before.”

3D Systems will open the 3DS Culinary Center this summer in Los Angeles. At this culinary Industry professionals, chefs and mixologists will be able to experience the printer, potentially finding new uses for it. 3DS is also working with the Culinary Institute of America to integrate 3D printing into its curriculum.

“This is not to be a replacement for culinarians and talent,” said Liz von Hasseln, creative director of food, for 3D Systems told Nation’s Restaurant News. “It’s another tool.”

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