A team of students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have modified a 3D printer for on-demand edible ice cream in any shape. They took a regular 3D printer and connected it to a soft-serve ice cream machine as part of their graduate project in the school's additive manufacturing department.
“First, we needed to print into a cooled environment so that the ice cream would hold its shape once printed,” said the students, Kyle Hounsell, Kristine Bunker and David Donghyun Kim. “We bought a small upright freezer which was large enough to both put the Solidoodle inside and allow for the full build volume we were aiming for.”
They used liquid nitrogen to build a cooling system to keep the ice cream in place as it is spewed out of the printer's nozzle into the chosen shape. With the instant cooling, the printer is able to build the ice cream in layers, just as any other 3D-printed object.
“The main reason we feel an ice cream 3D printer is an important addition to current additive manufacturing technology is that it interests children,” they said.
The team ensured the printing was accurate, had the proper printing resolution to create the shapes, and had the speed of regular printing (because no one wants to wait for ice cream).
“We imagine this technology being marketable in ice cream parlours such as Dairy Queen where customers can order an ice cream treat, wait 15 minutes, and see the shape they chose be created,” the students said. “Of course last, and more importantly, we aim to enjoy the ice cream after successful printing.”
See the ice cream printer in action in the video below.