The 3d Sugar Printer

  By Shamus   May 11, 2007   14 comments

Via Steven I find this, a machine that will create solid 3-dimensional shapes out of sugar. I wonder if the machine can stand minor impurities like dye and flavoring? This could be a very cool sort of novelty gift. Just provide a LWO, DXF, or 3DS file and make your friend a big ‘ol hunk of candy in the shape of your choosing. It would be a lot more exciting than a cake with their name on it.

Me? I’d make myself a giant set of edible geek dice. But you knew that.

A Klein Bottle would be a cool thing to make as well, and it would be a lot easier than the crazy steps they have to take to make them out of glass. Sadly, it would lose some of it’s appeal since it would probably be opaque.

1414 comments. (Fourteen is the sum of the first three squares.)


  1. Jim in Buffalo says:

    Like we don’t enough crap made of sugar. I want to make 3d stuff out of meat, like hamburger underwear.

  2. Eric says:

    For that, all you need is some transglutaminase and a sculptor’s eye.

  3. Henebry says:

    My players (all ages 10-12) would love this for making miniatures. They could eat the monsters after killing them!

  4. Mr Teufel says:

    I think Henebry’s idea is great! What a great small business opportunity!

  5. Phlux says:

    You’re right, they’ll definitely need to find a way to flavor it. I doubt it will be a problem, as flavoring and color generally does not impact sugar’s ability to caramelize (think lollipops). The trick, I imagine, is that the coloring and flavor would have to be in a low-melting-point granulated form as well, and not liquid.

    Pure, hardened caramelized sugar with no flavoring is probably not a very appealing candy.

    I’d like to see how they move from layer to layer. It looks like they have to manually put down another layer of sugar. I wonder how they do that to make it the right thickness. That’s probably phase 2, making the machine lay down the sugar automatically.

  6. Yeah, I noticed that they didn’t quite describe that either, Phlux.

    However, if you look at some of the later photos, it becomes clear that you are right and they are just laying down another layer of sugar on top of the older layers, resulting in the need to “extract” the final product from many, many pounds of sugar But I was wondering, too.

  7. -Chipper says:

    I’ve been working for years with a similar system that makes prototype parts from 3D files, but does it with a special plastic. It starts as a liquid, then when a laser hits it, it hardens. They are built up in the same manner. One difference is that because it is surrounded by liquid, rather than the solid un-used sugar, everything has to be fixed in place, so they create support structures on the part undersides as they go, so something that would start unattached won’t float away. It’s fascinating stuff.

    Because of how this sugar system works, you can make interlocking but separate parts – like a linked chain, or a whistle with a ball inside it.

  8. Robert says:

    Can you say “custom walls and floors for miniatures gaming”?

    SURE you can!

  9. wildweasel says:

    Four words: giant, edible Doom Guy.

  10. Denis says:

    Gotta say: That rocks. Thank you so much for pointing me to this site. I am ubber impressed.

  11. AngiePen says:

    That’s great! :) I saw something similar to this a while back; one of the competitors on a Food Network Challenge (the one where they were making edible cityscapes, if anyone but me watches those [duck]) had a similar machine for making a solid sugar Statue of Liberty. He set it up and then had it whizzing away in the back of his kitchen while he built the rest of the showpiece by more conventional means. His unit made a piece that was much smoother than this one, but this one is much better at the overall form — all it needs is a bit of “sanding.”

    I could see someone making something with this new system, then going over it with a blow-dryer and some sculpting tools to smooth it down and add detail. [ponder]

    And who says pure sugar doesn’t work as candy? That’s all rock candy is and it’s still around, although I’ll grant it’s not as popular as other forms. I certainly wouldn’t mind edible orcs on a gaming table. :D

    Angie

  12. Sara says:

    Haha! They did a “Hello World!” Heh. Edible miniatures would help those of us trying to game with toddlers running around. “Shhh. If you’re good, I’ll let you eat the bad guys when we’re done with ‘em.”

  13. Rebecca says:

    How about glasses with plastic lenses?

  14. -Chipper says:

    Rebecca,
    Glasses wouldn’t be a good choice because of the need for a flawless, smooth surface, which this system does not provide. In essence you need an ‘analog’ surface, but this gives a ‘digital’ surface with lots of steps. Imagine you are making these parts with lots of little cubes – you would get the right overall shape, but the surface would not be what you need.

    Cheers.

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