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Interest in 3D food printing seems to be crashing pretty spectacularly

Published May 27th, 2014 5:30PM EDT
3D Food Printing Future

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The 3D printing market has seen an explosion of creativity in recent months and it’s hard to say whether this stems from healthy demand or from a tech industry bubble that’s still inflating at a frightening pace. Either way, the latest bloom of innovation comes from Oxford-based company called Dovetailed and it has just launched a 3D printer that “extends a molecular-gastronomy technique called spherification.” To put it bluntly, the machine creates spherical blobs of jelly that adhere together forming raspberry-shaped delicacies. The company calls these concoctions “fresh and organic 3D fruits on demand,” although they do sound a lot like plain old jellies.  3D printing edible items is an idea that has generated a ton of publicity over the past six months, but it’s unclear what the commercial prospects truly are. A Kickstarter project called Foodini got torturously close to its $100,000 goal a few weeks ago, but fell short and only hit the $80,000 mark when its time ran out. The interesting thing about Foodini’s failure was the remarkably broad media coverage it managed to generate — the project achieved notably positive pieces at TechCrunch, Engagdet, GigaOm, Mashable, Wired, The Wall Street Journal, BBC, The Guardian, Bloomberg and Vanity Fair.

This was a Kickstarter project with a media operation that was run nearly flawlessly, able to tap into mainstream newspapers, tech blogs and financial press. Yet despite the avalanche of publicity, Foodini was unable to reach a relatively modest $100,000 funding goal. It’s possible that most people simply find combining 3D printing and edible materials to be a slightly queasy prospect, even though most of these projects go to great lengths to toss in phrases like “organic,” “nutritious” and “fresh ingredients.”

Over at Indie Go Go, a couple of food printing projects are failing pretty spectacularly, including 3dFoodShaper, which is apparently able to create gruesomely ugly, edible candy bears. So far, the device has raised €0 — yes, that’s zero — of its modest 10,000 target. Nevertheless, hope springs eternal. One of the most innovative new technologies comes from Morphotonix, which has created a system that slaps on 3D holographic images on pieces of chocolate “without additives.”

Tero Kuittinen is currently a Managing Director at Magid Associates, an Advisor for Next Games and a Strategist for Primesmith, a Finnish company that specializes in 3D imaging and printing apps.

After launching mobile game company SpringToys tragically early in 2000, Tero Kuittinen spent eight years doing equity research at firms including Alliance Capital and Opstock. He is currently an analyst and VP of North American sales at mobile diagnostics and expense management Alekstra, and has contributed to, Forbes and Business 2.0 Magazine in addition to BGR.