For those of us who can barely roll out of bed in time for a bowl of cereal before work, pancakes for breakfast might seem a little aspirational. Especially pancakes shaped like, say, the Eiffel Tower. But if you’re bored with your usual morning routine, a new 3-D printer will do some of the work for you: Give the PancakeBot a picture of a kitten or President Obama, and it will print you a fluffy, edible masterpiece.
Designer Miguel Valenzuela first started working on the gadget at the request of his three-year-old daughter, who had misunderstood something he said and told her sister that their dad was going to build them a pancake printing machine out of Lego. Valenzuela decided to make it happen.
“It took a while to develop the final prototype, but the girls were supportive throughout the project,” he says. “When they saw the final result of being able to make Mickey Mouse pancakes with Lego PancakeBot, the first version, they were ecstatic.”
After four years spent improving the design and countless pancakes, the final version (no longer made from Lego) is ready for production and up on Kickstarter. The printer squirts batter directly on a griddle, following a pattern laid out in a digital file. Low heat keeps everything from burning before the robot finishes drawing.
Yes, this is probably the most complicated possible way to make a pancake. But for Valenzuela, it was a way to help get his young daughters interested in engineering. He also sees it as an example of the first wave of 3-D-printed food, which he thinks will eventually evolve.
“I think initially 3-D printing will be used as a way to please the eye and and express yourself creatively, through the ability to print your food in any shape or form that your mind can imagine,” he says. “In the future, though, 3-D printing of food will eventually allow you to create a perfectly tailored product specific to your nutritional and physical needs, which may help address issues such as allergies, or intolerances.”
For now, it’s a way to impress your friends at brunch, if you’re willing to shell out $299 ($179, through Kickstarter)