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These delicate geometric forms are "3D printed" from sugar

By

July 19, 2013

Sugary geometry (Photo: Sugar Lab)

Sugary geometry (Photo: Sugar Lab)

Image Gallery (12 images)

These fantastically delicate sculptures, designed by Liz and Kyle von Hasseln, bring a whole new meaning to the notion of sugar work.

The pair hit upon the idea when attempting to bake a birthday cake for a friend without the use of that most essential of bakery tools: the oven. The pair decided to 3D print a cake instead, finding success with sugar. Reasoning that others would like their sweet creations, the pair started "micro-design firm" The Sugar Lab.

According to iGnant, the pair uses a mixture of water and alcohol to wet and harden a sugar substrate into the precise forms, a process similar, the pair says, to the way frosting hardens if left in the bowl.

"The process is fundamentally similar to other 3D printing applications," iGnant writes, adding that "they've just optimized the process for resolution and strength with sugar, rather than with a standard 3D printing material."

We're far from clear about the process and machinery used (if any), but will endeavor to find out more. Watch this space, or better yet, the image gallery, as some of the geometric forms they've created are quite beautiful.

July 22 update: In an email to Gizmag, Liz von Hasseln clarified that, yes, a 3D printing machine is used. "We've just optimized the process for resolution and strength with sugar, rather than with a standard 3D printing material," she writes. "We're being intentionally vague about the specific hardware and recipes we're using for the time being, while we navigate the patents and trademarks associated with the 3D printing industry. However, we hope this opacity will be short-term."

Sugar Lab hopes to put a sugar-printing 3D printer on the market within the next 12 months.

Sources: The Sugar Lab, iGnant

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life.   All articles by James Holloway
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2 Comments

Although this looks frivolous, it could actually be useful. Normally, low cost 3D printers like reprap derivatives use PLA or ABS plastic. They are great materials to 3D print with but you cannot print over air. Printing with a 2nd extruder in sugar would be great for printing support material that can be dissolved away after the print job is gone. The sugar could even be recovered for reuse. The article mentions a mixture of sugar and alcohol but sugar and water would be more economical and possibly still practical. I wish the article had shown an image of the equipment that produced the beautiful sugar items. That would have been interesting to see.

Rustin Haase
22nd July, 2013 @ 11:26 am PDT

Diabetes as art.

Harold Gorebinsky
2nd August, 2013 @ 11:57 pm PDT
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