It tasted almost exactly like the marshmallows in a box of Lucky Charms, but it looked like a hollowed-out skeleton cube. Or an octagon. Or any shape I could think of, really. And I could print another one whenever I wanted to.
3D Systems's new ChefJet and ChefJet Pro are 3D printers that print real, edible, delicious candies of varying shapes and sizes — 3D Systems says they’re the world’s first 3D food printers. The ChefJet uses a combination of sugar and water that actually creates a sugar frosting in real time, albeit as slowly as you’d expect from a 3D printer. Candies can be made in incredibly complex shapes, some of which are even hollow skeletons that hold little spheres — all edible, of course.
The regular ChefJet is only capable of printing in black and white, but can still produce several different flavors. It’s relatively large for a kitchen appliance, but is still small enough to fit on a countertop. 3D Systems expects it to retail in the sub-$5,000 price range.
Printing color candy costs a little more
The larger ChefJet Pro is where things get interesting. It's capable of printing the same shapes as the regular ChefJet, but adds in an inkjet head filled with food coloring instead of printer ink. The inkjet is capable of printing patterns that can get so complex they’re actually reminiscent of china glassware. That addition bumps up the price: 3D Systems is expecting it to cost closer to $10,000.
A 3D Systems representative said the ChefJet Pro is even capable of printing out bride and groom models with detailed faces and clothing, like those you see on the top of a traditional wedding cake, but customizable to a face or outfit of your choice. Speaking of cake, there were several of them on display — the lattices (printed by both models of the ChefJet) were even sturdy enough to act as a base for one cake was that was several feet tall and had two levels of 3D printed support.
The ChefJet and ChefJet Pro printers are expected to be released in the second half of 2014, but if you live in California, packages of the candies are available for purchase on Cubify right now. They're delicious.