3D Printing Technology Can Print Your Pizza
BeeHex, a technology startup company designing a 3D food printer, has raised $1 million in seed funding to debut its first product, a pizza printer called the Chef 3D. Originally, the company wanted to create a printer that would have the capability to make an array of foods for astronauts on long missions in outer space. However, the company’s cofounders: Anjan Contractor, Chintan Kanuga, Jordan French, and Ben Feltner, have been adjusting their original concept printer technology for a commercial market that is ready on Earth today. The printers use pneumatic systems, rather than conventional additive manufacturing technologies, to move around ingredients.
Long-term, French said, BeeHex wishes to design a network of printers that are able to create snacks or meals on-the-spot, tailored to the consumers’ needs. Customers would eventually be able to choose their food through an app, or the BeeHex printers could make food that correlates to their health needs, taking into consideration information transmitted from internet connected medical devices or fitness-related wearables. BeeHex CEO and cofounder Anjan Contractor says the startup plans a soft debut, working with select pilot consumers in the food business in 2017. The company moved its research and development facilities to Ohio recently, a region that is home to some 170 food and beverage manufacturers
“Businesses want to provide food personalization, and they don’t want to have to spend a lot on training new employees to offer this,” contractor said. A machine like BeeHex’s 3D Chef would let businesses offer fresh pizzas that are shaped like a cartoon character for kids, for example, or that are gluten-free for celiac customers, without requiring cooks to learn specialized skills. Investor Jim Grote said BeeHex could be a long-term profitable business just creating 3-D printing solutions for high-volume pizza restaurants, especially major chains like Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, or Dominos. According to market research firm Packaged Facts, the pizza restaurant industry pulls in around $43 billion in annual sales worldwide.