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BurritoBot: 3D printing meets fast food


June 20, 2012

It doesn't look all that appetizing, but it gives you more control than the average Mexican fast food joint

It doesn't look all that appetizing, but it gives you more control than the average Mexican fast food joint

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A 3D printer that pops out steaming hot burritos before your very eyes? That sounds like the plot of the next stoner movie turned cult hit. In this case, though, it's actually the thesis project of an NYU masters student. And it's fast becoming a reality.

The first thing we learned about the Burrit0bot is that it needs to analyzed on several levels to be truly appreciated. As the thesis project of recent NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program graduate Marko Manriquez, the idea wasn't conceived as a fast way of preparing a delicious, steaming Mexican meat roll to stifle the midnight munchies. It was far more academic in origin.

"Burritob0t invites critical questions about the food we regularly consume, particularly in regards to fast food (labor practices, environmental consequences, nutritional value)," the Burritob0t website explains. "Mexican fast food is emblematic of the assembly line: it is mass-produced in an era of modern consumables, appropriating a false authenticity. Burritob0t, in turn, aims to encourage dialogue about how and where our food is grown, methods of production, environmental impact, cultural appropriation, and, perhaps most importantly: what our food means to us."

Yeah, yeah, all that sociological talk is really deep and stimulating and all, but we're still talking about a machine that spits out piping hot burritos on command, right? Kind of, but not exactly. The Burritob0t doesn't actually bake your burrito from scratch. What it does is allow you to mix your ideal combination of different types of salsa, guacamole and crema, and extrude it out onto your tortilla. You can control the mixture by way of an accompanying smartphone app.

Unfortunately, there's not much mention of the meat, beans and rice that really make up the bulk of a good burrito. They'd have to be liquified into a fine paste to make it through the machine, anyway, so it's either sloppy, dripping wrap o' mush or add the actual substance on yourself.

The Burritob0t doesn't appear fully functional just yet, so our dreams of a burrito-making machine-servant popping out savory meat treats at our beck and call may never see fruition. Manriquez does mention that he plans to demonstrate the device at a live event sometime this summer.

There are no plans to sell the unit directly to consumers or to a manufacturer with the means to produce it. Instead, Manriquez is focusing on the creative and philosophical aspects of the endeavor. The project is entirely open-sourced, however, and Manriquez explains the build in detail on the Burritob0t website in hopes that end users will build their own and join in the experiment. He also mentions that people wishing to commission a model for home or business can contact him directly through the website.

Manriquez plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign in July to raise more money to develop the Burritob0t and experiment with conceptualizations of food and man. He also aims to create an exhibition in which a series of bots make a five-course meal, so there may be some other foodie bots on the way.

Source: Burritob0t via Engadget

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

Great! Now, if they can make a BurgerBot, I'll be really happy!


Let me know when someone builds the Waffelbot.

Max Gulde

For the precursor (and also the future) of this idea, read 'The Diamond Age' by Neal Stephenson. In this novel, huge pipes from the ocean provide the essential elements by which machines first remove appropriate molecules and then 'print' whatever the user requires on a 3D printer ... very, very cool stuff ...

Christopher Porozny

BurgerBot, WaffelBot, and BurritoBot already exist in factories. They can control precisely where ingredients are so machinery can crank through making them. This machine is like one of those machines, and not really a 3D printer at all. If it could output a burrito in the shape of the Empire State Building or a tulip, then it'd be a 3D printer. Right now 3D printers are pretty good at building 3D objects up layer by layer using discrete feedstocks. MakerBot uses straight plastic. Fab@Home can extrude a variety of materials like chocolate, cheese, or concrete. But no 3D printer can yet build up complex structures that consist of complex materials and arrangements. That's why, for example, it's such a challenge for the bioengineers who are trying to figure out how to print out human organs for transplants. Star Trek food replicators are still a long way off, I'm afraid.


Why not simply build a robot that mimics a human making the same burrito? It could make it exactly the same each time, with the correct ingredients, in a fraction of the time of a live burrito maker. Liquefied, meat and beans and cheese, doesn't sound very appealing. It could still be controlled by an app for ingredients as the order goes in.


Cory Doctorow uses a proprietary 3D printer that makes waffles in the shape of Disney castles as a plot device in one of his books. Despite the fact that it is a commentary on consumerism and corporations, I think that it's a great idea.

Charles Bosse

There needs to be a Gizmag design award counterpart to the Darwin Award Some posible award titles for such a "competition":

UCIAW Unnecessarily Complicated Inconvenient And Wasteful

SISOAP Solutions In Search Of A Problem

http://www.rubegoldberg.com/ The Rube The Goldberg the GoldeRube

Other competitors: http://www.gizmag.com/electric-six-prop-flying-bike/23015/ www.gizmag.com/riy-shoes/20986/ http://www.gizmag.com/streetflyer-offers-ground-level-flying-sensation/17824/

Dave B13

its most definitely not a printer.

Joseph Tersigni
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