Wondering what the latest and greatest is in the wide, wonderful world of 3-D printing? Check out what researchers at Cornell University (yes, the same people who figured out how to print actual chocolate desert) are doing with silicone these days.

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food printer cornell university

The Food Printer from Cornell in Action

We watched in awe as Star Trek magically materialized food through the use of its replicators and protein resequencers. While that sort of technology may still be light years away, engineers at Cornell University have geared up to launch the next generation in foodie technology-the 3-D food printer.

The 3-D food printer uses pastes rather than ink to create designs using precision well beyond what’s possible using the naked eye and the human hand. And while the thought of a mushy turkey paste sitting on the table come Thanksgiving doesn’t necessarily fill our hearts with joy, adding chocolate, white chocolate and a little bit of frosting to these machines creates culinary possibilities guaranteed to make your taste buds dance with joy.

Or salivate like Pavlov’s dog. Whatever.

Check it out!

Food Printer from Cornell on YouTube

The really cool thing is that right now, this is an open source project. That means that all of you out there rubbing your hands together and trying to figure out how to get your hands on one before your mother-in-law comes to visit next Christmas will soon be able to go online, download the blueprints and build one yourself.

If you don’t want to put your gadgetry skills to the test (or if, like me, you just plain don’t have any) the printer is expected to retail commercially for about $1,000 when launch day comes around. Whenever that day may be…

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I’d heard about it. Soft whispers in the corner, not so soft non-whispers from company representatives. But until today I’d never had the chance to see 3-D printing in action, and I have to tell you…

It’s pretty darn cool.

Welcome to 3-D Printing

What is 3-D printing? 3-D printing is the process of using printers-yes, actual printers-to create three dimensional objects. It can be used to create a small scale model of something larger. It can be used to just plain create. Cornell University is even working on a printer that will allow you to digitally re-create food at home. (As visions of digitally remastered sugarplums dance in my head…)

Whatever you decide to do with it, you have to admit that the process of building something in 3-D from something that specializes in 2-D is enough to make even the toughest cynic or digital media lover sit up and take notice.

How It Works

3-D printing is done using a digital printer to create an object by printing layer upon layer, sort of like building a tower out of crackers. Only in this case the layers are very small sheets of material delivered very precisely by the printer. (I don’t know about you, but when I build a cracker tower there’s nothing precise about it.)

I know the whole thing’s a little hard to fathom, so I’m going to stop talking and turn it over to the video below to tell you about the awesome things today’s companies are doing with 3-D printing.   

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