3D printed food is here

So, as I was attending a seminar at Universidad Europea de Madrid (see previous blog entry) along with three students. we were staying at a hotel near the Principe Pio station. In the breakfast room, we had this machine:

This is actually a powerful example of how 3D technology can be said to appear in diverse fields of everyday life. While it is trivial as a machine (squeeze dough on conveyor belt, press between two hot conveyor belts, export onto plate) it minimizes food waste and produces pancakes that are indistinguishable from man-made ones. Well, maybe you would have more variety in the look and feel of the product, and definitely more butter in the frying stage. But as pancakes go, these are just as edible.

Finished print with maple syrup
Finished print with maple syrup

Because I teach user interface design, I always consider any machines from that vantage point too. In this example, we have a really minimalistic user interface – just one button labeled OK. I would actually call the button GO, because OK implies you are accepting something, in this case the starting of the printing process. But it gets the job done, so it is to be considered optimal for this process. Indeed, when compared with the toaster next to it, one that had three buttons and one knob for toast degree and one lever for starting the toast, this can be called simplistic. But then, you don’t really need all those buttons on the toaster.

In fact, the treadmill type toasters work better in a hotel setting than regular lever-operated ones, and this is a treadmill-type pancake printer.

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