If you thought the consumer-centric 3-D printing possibilities from Stratasys, Ltd. (NASDAQ:SSYS)‘ recent $400 million merger with MakerBot were exciting, you’re gonna love this.
3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD) may have started selling its affordable Cube line of 3-D printers at Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS) in June, but on Tuesday the additive manufacturing stalwart announced that it has acquired The Sugar Lab, a California-based “start-up micro-design firm” which, just like it sounds, specializes in the 3-D printing of real sugar.
And yes, everything The Sugar Lab prints out is edible and, according to Tuesday’s press release, the process was achieved by adopting “3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD)” Color Jet Printing technology to print on a sugar bed using different flavored binders that meet all food safety requirements.”
An entirely new(ish) flavor of awesome
According to The Sugar Lab’s website, the concept was started by a husband and wife architectural team, Kyle and Liz von Hasseln, while they were both graduate students. Since then, they have taken advantage of their background in architecture and self-described “penchant for complex geometry” to bring “3D printing technology to the genre of megacool cakes.”
But while The Sugar Lab’s current target audience is relatively narrow, Mrs. von Hasseln elaborated on the deal to say, “We see our technology quickly evolving into a variety of flavors and foods, powered by real food printers for professionals and consumers alike and we could not think of a more qualified partner than 3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD) to help make that a reality.”
That said, it’s worth noting 3-D printed food isn’t entirely new.
Remember, way back in February, our very own Brendan Byrnes interviewed 3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD)’ new chief strategy officer, Ping Fu, who said at the time she was also serving as an advisor to another company which specializes in printing meat and leather products through the use of stem-cell tissue engineering and in-vitro technology — a field which she claims could eventually allow them to to “produce high-quality protein to developing countries without having [their current] unsustainable way of raising cows.”
Then in July, NASA awarded a small SBIR Phase I contract to an Austin-based company called Systems and Materials Research Consultancy, through which it will explore the possibility of using additive manufacturing to print food in space for long duration space missions.
Of course, those aren’t the only examples of 3-D printed food developments in the works, but it is safe to say that this week’s news seems to be a logical step toward 3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD)’ greater ambitions in the world of culinary printing.