The design research group Robots in Gastronomy's 3D-printing food cart debuted last week in the "Adhocracy" exhibition at the Istanbul Design Biennial.
Robots in Gastronomy may not be the first tinkerers to come out with a 3D chocolate printer, but they're certainly the most mobile. At the opening of the Istanbul Design Biennial last week, the Robots debuted their prototype for a food cart that brings 3D printing technology (and multidimensional snacking) beyond the walls of the research lab and onto the streets. (Is there an A+ Award for deliciousness?)
The group's MakerBot 3D printer debuted earlier this year at Milan Design Week, where the collaborators printed out chocolaty confections for the "Future in the Making" show. For Istanbul, the Robots — among them architects from GGLab, chef Paco Morales, and architects Luis E. Fraguada and Deniz Manisali — constructed a curvaceous wood pavilion for scooting the bot around town.
"By bringing this technology to the streets, we do not limit the discussion to the general audience of a design biennial. Rather, we allow it to collide with a dynamic city rich in culinary history," the Robots explain on their blog. To build the custom-designed cart, the group commissioned a fabricator to layer a substructure with hundreds of thin slices of wood, which were applied wet to shape them into just the right bend.
The skin of the cart doubles as a kind of open dish rack — all those white flaps that festoon the exterior are actually the plastic plates that the cart operator uses as a printing surface. "It is a sort of forced attempt at folding elements of the cart back into the purpose of the cart, to print food on the streets," explains Fraguada. "We do not have a brand, so the cart surface and form become the attention-getter."
Command ⌘ + Pastry: Digitally printed goodies from Milan Design Week 2012.
Robots in Gastronomy is still refining the foodbot to improve workflow — and, eventually, to simplify its software enough so users who may not know their way around a CAD package can still have a go at edible architecture.
At a recent workshop, the collective invited university students to design their own snacks with Rhinoceros and Grasshopper. "We were pushing for them to try to make 'impossible' shapes to explore what happens when the chocolate can no longer support its weight," says Fraguada. "The process is beautiful because chocolate fails in a beautiful manner."
Using a laptop at the back of the cart, the chef models his recipes using CAD software and sends them to the printer.
The 3D printer at Premsela in Eindhoven.
Bonus: Here's a video of the pastry printer in action (the real printing starts at 1:16).
Images: courtesy of Robots in Gastronomy