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.