Can­dy 4.0: A sweets com­pa­ny laun­ches 3D prin­ting, by Die­ter Dürand.

Handelsblatt Global Edition Magazine - - Table Of Contents - BY DIE­TER DÜRAND

Ger­man can­dy ma­nu­fac­tu­rer Kat­jes lets cust­o­m­ers use 3D prin­ters to crea­te their own con­fec­tions. The tech­no­lo­gy is ma­king ra­pid in­roads in­to gas­tro­no­my and foods.

At the Ma­gic Can­dy Fac­to­ry ne­ar Ha­cke­scher Markt in Ber­lin’s tren­dy Mit­te district, gum­my can­dies ha­ve en­t­e­red the 21st cen­tu­ry. In­si­de the new­ly­o­pened sweets sto­re, cust­o­m­ers can use iPads and 3D prin­ters to crea­te their own sti­cky con­coc­tions. Pos­si­ble shapes in­clu­de hearts and but­ter­flies, oc­to­pu­ses and frogs. A few mo­re tou­ches on the screen select fla­vors, in­clu­ding man­go, le­mon, raspber­ry and app­le, plus a sour or glit­te­ry coa­ting. Then, be­hind a glass wall, a 3D prin­ter forms the can­dy, lay­er by lay­er, by ejec­ting warm fruit-gum mix through a thin, com­pu­ter-con­trol­led nozz­le. A 10-gram can­dy, mea­su­ring a few cen­ti­me­ters across, will set you back $5, gift box in­clu­ded.

The sto­re, which opened in Sep­tem­ber, is the la­test ven­ture of Kat­jes, a fa­mi­ly-ow­ned ma­ker of gum­my can­dies, li­co­ri­ce and other sweets head­quar­te­red in Em­me­rich, a small town on the Dutch bor­der. Kat­jes is Ger­ma­ny’s third lar­gest can­dy ma­nu­fac­tu­rer. In Ber­lin the firm is tes­ting its ne­west in­no­va­ti­on — the world’s first 3D prin­ter who­se gum­my pro­ducts are cer­ti­fied com­mer­ci­al food gra­de.

With each can­dy ta­king fi­ve mi­nu­tes to print, it’s a lot of ef­fort com­pa­red to con­ven­tio­nal pro­duc­tion, whe­re in­dus­tri­al ma­chi­nes churn out gum­my be­ars by the mil­li­ons. Yet the Ber­lin sto­re is ano­ther mi­les­to­ne in the fast-evol­ving world of 3D prin­ting – one that is now ma­king in­roads in­to gas­tro­no­my and food. “With the pro­gress in 3D prin­ting, we’re en­te­ring a new era of cust­o­mi­zed food pro­ducts,” says Hod Lip­son, di­rec­tor of Cor­nell Uni­ver­si­ty’s Crea­ti­ve Ma­chi­nes Lab in It­ha­ca, New York.

Re­se­ar­chers ha­ve al­re­a­dy used 3D prin­ting tech­no­lo­gy to print out pan­ca­kes, mar­zi­pan, and even piz­zas with top­pings. At the re­cent World Fair in Mi­lan, Ita­ly, pas­ta ma­ker Ba­ril­la un­vei­led a pro­to­ty­pe ma­chi­ne that prin­ted out a dish of cust­om-de­si­gned nood­les in on­ly two mi­nu­tes. Dutch su­per­mar­ket chain Al­bert Hei­jn and Ame­ri­can cho­co­la­te ma­nu­fac­tu­rer Hers­hey are al­so tes­ting the tech­no­lo­gy. At last ye­ar’s 3D Print Show in Lon­don, Mi­che­lin-star­red chef Ma­teo Blanch awed at­ten­dants with a 3D-prin­ted me­al. Mr. Blanch al­re­a­dy uses the tech­no­lo­gy at his re­stau­rant, La Bo­sca­na, in Llei­da, Spain, to crea­te shapes he could not ma­ke by hand.

No­vel food sour­ces li­ke al­gae or in­sects could be 3D-prin­ted in­to mo­re mar­keta­ble shapes.

At Ber­lin’s IFA con­su­mer elec­tro­nics fair in Sep­tem­ber, the Tai­wa­ne­se com­pa­ny XYZ prin­ting pre­sen­ted a 3D food prin­ter that prints cho­co­la­te and coo­kie dough for ca­ke de­signs and baking. The ma­chi­ne costs $500, or €444.82 in the Uni­ted Sta­tes. Na­tu­ral­ly, the car­tridges con­tai­ning dough cost ex­tra.

But the most clo­se­ly-wat­ched ent­ry in­to the food-prin­ting mar­ket may be the Ger­man start-up Prin­t2Tas­te, ba­sed in Frei­sing ne­ar Mu­nich. The foun­ders, a team that in­clu­des food spe­cia­lists, ha­ve de­ve­l­o­ped the tech­no­lo­gy to print an al­most end­less ar­ray of foods – from chewing gum to ca­ra­mel to mas­hed po­ta­toes or even li­ver pa­té. The com­pa­ny has rai­sed mo­re than €40,000 on the Kick­star­ter crowd-fun­ding plat­form, and hopes to start sel­ling its ma­chi­nes in ear­ly 2016. Whi­le it’s not cer­tain how ma­ny con­su­mers will want to put a food prin­ter next to their es­pres­so ma­chi­ne, com­pa­nies li­ke Prin­t2Tas­te are al­so ai­ming at pro­fes­sio­nals in re­stau­rants and pastry shops.

It’s ve­ry ear­ly days for food-prin­ting tech­no­lo­gy, but that hasn’t stop­ped sci­en­tists at the Ne­ther­lands Or­ga­niza­t­i­on for Ap­p­lied

Sci­en­ti­fic Re­se­arch (TNO) from thin­king far in­to the fu­ture. Kjeld van Bom­mel, one of TNO’s team lea­ders, thinks this tech­no­lo­gy could one day feed bil­li­ons. Al­ter­na­ti­ve and mo­re en­vi­ron­men­tal­ly-fri­end­ly sour­ces of nut­ri­ti­on li­ke al­gae or in­sects could be 3D-prin­ted in­to mo­re re­co­gniz­able and ap­pe­ti­zing shapes and tex­tu­res. Then the­se in­gre­dients will no lon­ger frigh­ten an­yo­ne, Mr. van Bom­mel says.

At Kat­jes, plans are mo­re mo­dest. Me­lis­sa Sno­ver, a New York na­ti­ve who heads the 3D-prin­ting pro­ject, says her goal is to ha­ve 100 of her ma­chi­nes prin­ting gum­my can­dies in de­part­ment sto­res world­wi­de. Or­de­ring the cust­o­mi­zed, all-na­tu­ral can­dies on­li­ne is in the works, too. And she has other plans, such as ren­ting out the ma­chi­nes for bir­th­day par­ties and other oc­ca­si­ons. Thanks to 3D prin­ting, it seems that gum­my can­dies ha­ve just be­co­me even mo­re ad­dic­tive.

At the Ma­gic Can­dy Fac­to­ry in Ber­lin, can­dy com­pa­ny Kat­jes is tes­ting 3D-prin­ting tech­no­lo­gy to crea­te cust­om-ma­de con­fec­tions.

Die­ter Dürand co­vers gre­en tech­no­lo­gies for the bu­si­ness weekly Wirt­schafts­Wo­che, whe­re this ar­ti­cle first ap­peared.

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