If you think that bars and coffee places were the areas that have been left untouched by 3D printers, you are mistaken. Technology continues to improve at a fast rate and it’s clear that 3D printing is making its way through every possible industry. Although 3D printing drinks is not common yet, adding its 3D printed touch to drinks it’s what’s happening. We’ve seen dozens of uses for 3D printers, some of them even bordering on the bizarre or the insane. However, this ones probably take the cake.
Smart Cups is a beverage manufacturing company with the claimed ability to print any type of beverage on any surface. Smart Cups is all about chemistry. Its technology allows you to print a healthy, delicious drink on any surface to provide you with a convenient jolt of focus wherever you need it.
Founded by Chris Kanik, Smart Cups is based in Mission Viejo, California, and all their products are manufactured on U.S. soil. Their aim is to change the beverage industry as a whole and reinvent the deal that customers get when they buy a beverage. With Smart Cups, anyone can get the drink of their choice. The only liquid they need to have on hand is water.
Smart Cups uses eco-friendly bioplastic, using a material that produces less carbon dioxide than most petrochemical plastics. Cups are used instead of cans or bottles to reduce the carbon footprint created by the added energy costs of transporting liquid. It also allows you to access the drink flavor of your choice without having to store or carry cans around. The cup allows you to easily add any liquid to your drink, which makes it a very customizable beverage.
There are other beverages that have been “augmented” by 3D printers. Let’s take the case of Ripples, a content marketing platform that offers creative solutions to the Food & Beverage, Hospitality and Event industries as to increase customer engagement by simply printing directly onto foam-topped drinks. Their aim is to use drinks to tell stories, and promote a product.
Ripples utilizes the Ripple Maker, which is a Wi-Fi enabled countertop device that can print on one beverage at a time. There’re two Ripple Maker devices: the Ripple Maker AM for coffee and the Ripple Maker PM for beer. Each drink takes 10 seconds to print. It can print just about anything on foam-topped beverages, from brand logos, to beautiful line art, and even some basic selfies. These drinks are completely user-friendly: anyone can upload their designs, choose from Ripples’ extensive content catalog, or choose from submitted designs on the Ripples app. Ripples is innovative but in printing a material ontop of a substrate is very 2D.
If you are interested in cocktails, take a look at Print A Drink, a 3D printing technology for drinkable liquids. Print A Drink’s technology merges methods from robotics, life sciences and design to explore 3D printing. It doesn’t build up objects layer by layer. Instead, the process uses a high-end industrial robot to accurately inject microliter edible drops made with natural ingredient into cocktails. This process takes about a minute to complete, leaving a complex 3D structure in your drink.
Print A Drink was developed in Austria by Benjamin Greimel at the creative robotics laboratory of the University of Arts and Design Linz. As a pioneer, Greimel pushed the boundaries of additive manufacturing into an entirely new field. Despite its high degree of innovation, Print A Drink is a very flexible process. The 3D drinks can be created in conventional fruit juices, syrups, water or alcohol.
Greimel’s first successful “cocktail” was created by inserting pumpkin seed oil into jelly water. But now, he has begun to master a far more complex task: forcing the droplets to stay hovering in alcohol without losing their shape even after its consumer drinks part of the cocktail. It seems like quite a challenge since the more alcohol or oil is in a drink, the harder it is to add a 3D element into it. Greimel’s cocktails are maxed out at 40 percent alcohol as to preserve the shape of the droplets.
Print A Drink debuted at Bulleit’s Frontier Works program by Bulleit Bourbon, a distilling company in Kentucky, United States, that also took a chance in 3D printing by simply 3D printing an entire bar. Machine Histories was the design and fabrication studio that carried out the 3D printing of the whole bar, which took over 2,000 hours, using SLS technology and glass filled nylon. The bar was finished in about three months and the project looks purely impressive. Greimel’s joined Bulleit in a much smaller booth adjacent to the bar where he presented the robotic arm that makes his 3D printed cocktails.
Maybe we won’t see 3D printed beverages in our favorite or nearest coffee store or bar any time soon, but 3D printing makes its way into every industry possible. Greimel is developing a prototype with high-end restaurants and has the entertainment industry in mind. For Greimel, 3D printed cocktails has an enormous potential, and he foresees bar and restaurant owners making an investment once they realize this as well.