3D printing lends a whole new meaning to delicious with a new printer that can print out pancakes in the form of the Eiffel Tower, a rider on a galloping horse or Spiderman's face.
PancakeBot is an open-source pancake printer that lets you create elaborately-designed pancakes and eat them, of course, that is, if you can stop sitting there and staring at your mouth-watering masterpiece in admiration.
Norwegian Miguel Valenzuela came up with the idea in 2010 after reading about a British designer who created a scale model of a pancake stamping machine out of Lego blocks. When his daughters heard about the pancake stamps, they just had to have one of it. And so Project PancakeBot was born.
"Project PancakeBot aims to help kids inspire kids to create and have fun with their food as well as develop interests in engineering, programming and food manufacturing through the use of PancakeBot," Valenzuela said.
Valenzuela made two iterations of PancakeBot. The first is a prototype that is made entirely from Legos, which can print out simpler pancakes, such as Mickey's head or a truck. It is not for sale, but if you want to eat Mickey pancakes, you can make your own. You only need to have your own Lego Mindstorms kit and go through the 115 pages of instructions you can download from the PancakeBot website.
"To draw out more complex shapes, we currently use AutoCAD to create polylines and the extract the data from AutoCAD by running a simple list of the polyline and using a Python program to then convert it into a text file," explains Valenzuela on PancakeBot's IndieGoGo page.
The second PancakeBot was debuted at the Bay Area Maker Fair on May 17 and looks more like a commercial version, although the pancake printer is still not up for sale. The new PancakeBot has an acrylic body, an Arduino Mega controller and two Adafruit Motor Shields. It features a dispenser that pours out a layer of batter into the hot griddle below, and two stepper motors and belt drives to move the location of the batter.
"Part of the hope of getting PancakeBot out there is that others with more programming experience can help us take PancakeBot to the next level," says Valenzuela, who hopes that people will continue to hack his invention to make it better.
He also says he wanted to attend this year's Maker Faire because of a young girl who was delighted with PancakeBot when she saw it at an earlier Maker Faire.
"When we were at the Maker Faire in New York, a little girl came up to us and said, 'This is why we came to the Maker Faire, to see PancakeBot!'" Valenzuela says. "That really touched our hearts."