60-second interview: Kyle von Hasseln, creative director food products 3DSYSTEMS

3D printing will 'definitely move into home kitchen', predicts The Sugar Lab co-founder

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

3D printing will definitely move into home kitchen, pioneer
Food was already 3D last time we checked, so once you get over the excitement of being able to ‘print’ a multi-dimensional product in layers, are you left with an expensive gimmick, or something that is going to change the culinary world forever? 

To find out more, FoodNavigator-USA caught up with Kyle von Hasseln (KVH), co-founder of The Sugar Lab​ (a firm dedicated to printing customized, 3D, edible confections) and creative director, food products, at 3DSYSTEMS ​ (which acquired The Sugar Lab in 2013).

Its ChefJet 3D printers - claimed to be the first professional-grade food 3D printers - will hit the market later this year.

FNU: Where do you see the initial market for your 3D printers?   

KVH: Our ChefJet and the ChefJet Pro 3D printers will both be available in the second half of this year, and will be the first 3D printers certified kitchen-ready. Both will be incredible tools for professional bakers, pastry chefs, restaurants and event planners. They will come complete with chef-specific software The Digital Cookbook, and will be compatible with a variety of recipes, including sugar, sweet and sour candy in a variety of flavors, and milk chocolate. We are so excited to see what pastry chefs and bakers do with 3D printing; it is going to be incredible to see!

FNU: Can you see candy retailers, department stores, or bridal stores buying 3D printers so shoppers can print their own designs?

KVH: A department store or local bakery could do something like this with a ChefJet Pro. You might send a 3D file from your phone, and pick it up the next day ​[looking for an unusual wedding gift? How about personalized sugar cubes?]

3d sugar cubes from Chefjet

FNU:  How do you tell the machine what to print?

Like any 3D printing process, you begin 3D printing a confection by digitally designing the sweet you would like to print. The ChefJet printers will accept any traditional 3D digital input, however we are also developing kitchen-specific software, for release along with the printers, that will be much more intuitive than CAD-based modeling software.

3d printed sugar skull by ChefJet

The ChefJet design software will be organized like a cookbook, and will have a library of existing shapes that can be modified and personalized, but will also offer the capability to design from scratch. 

FNU: Where’s the potential in chocolate? Isn’t it much cheaper and faster to use molds?

KVH: The CocoJet is a chocolate 3D printer developed in collaboration with Hershey. With CocoJet, you can design a customized, bite-sized chocolate and watch it 3D printed right before your eyes. The CocoJet concept is a model at this point, and no announcements have yet been made regarding commercialization. Chocolate molds are important to chocolatiers, but they are expensive and time-consuming to make. With 3D printing, you can make custom shapes without a mold, so it is simpler and easier to make a variety of custom shapes. You can also make shapes that no mold ever could.

3d Candy with flower design from ChefJet
3d printed vase from Chefjet

FNU: You specialize in sugar and chocolate based printing, but which other food materials work well in these machines? Do you have to use new less consumer-friendly binders and other ingredients to make certain materials ‘stick’ together and hold their shape?

KVH: If you've ever made frosting and left the mixing bowl in the sink overnight, you know that moistened sugar gets quite hard. That's the underlying concept of 3D printing with sugar, or any ingredient. We simply separate the wet and dry ingredients, and then very precisely mix them in a layer-wise. The process is fundamentally similar to other 3D printing applications. This same process would work well for any food, the fun part is choosing what to work with, and what will resonate with culinarians.

FNU:  What do you think is the most appealing aspect of this technology and is there any consensus in the 3D printing community as to where this technology is really going, and what the killer apps will be?

KVH: The most impactful culinary shifts are those that shape this experience - this ritual - of eating. Those that enrich the celebration of preparing and sharing food with people you love. 3D printing represents such a shift for food. It adds a powerful new tool to the repertoire of the baker, the pastry chef, the restaurateur, empowering them to conjure structures that have never been possible before.

ChefJet-printed sugar design

In doing so, these artists are beginning to describe a new kind of making that goes beyond muscle-memory and into a new digital craftsmanship.  

3D Systems is also busy developing the world’s first 3D printing culinary innovation center in Los Angeles. It will open Summer 2015 and serve as a cooperative learning, collaboration and exploration space; a place where the industry can experience the ChefJet Pro professional food printer firsthand, and where chefs, mixologist and culinary innovators of all walks can experience the intersection of traditional culinary craft and 3D printing. It will be a place to explore and shape the wide‐open landscape of 3D printed food.

FNU: How easy are the machines to clean, and is cross-contamination with allergens a worry?

KVH: The ChefJet Pro is the first 3D Culinary Printer for the professional kitchen, so it is as easy to clean as any other common appliance, like a mixer or oven.

FNU: Do you believe consumers will have 3D printers in their kitchens in future?

KVH: We think that it will take off in specialized settings, but as interest builds, it will definitely move into the home kitchen.

Watch Liz von Hasseln, co-founder of The Sugar Lab, put a food printer through its paces below:

3D printing will be on the agenda at Food Vision USA in October in Chicago. Have you signed up?


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