According to Global Annual Ice Cream consumption, United States leads the charts with 26 liters per person consumption of ice cream and Massachusetts is one of the top ice cream consuming states in USA. Americans love ice cream to the extent that the month of July is celebrated as National Ice Cream Month.
Hence, it is no surprise that three students, Kyle Hounsell, Kristine Bunker, and David Donghyun Kim from MIT thought of making an ice cream printer as part of Professor John Hart’s class project in additive manufacturing.
The team developed a 3D ice cream printer using Cuisinart ice cream maker and a Solidoodle 3D printer which is contained inside a small freezer.
The ice cream had to be made in a cool environment so that the ice cream holds its shape once printed. That is why the set-up was housed in a freezer. A system was built to spray liquid nitrogen onto the ice cream to solidify it as soon as it comes out of the extruder. The cryogen line was bent all the way around the extruder to evenly spray liquid nitrogen on the 3D printed ice cream.
The team modified the Solidoodle 3D printer by locating the print bed outside the original solidoodle 3D printer. The reason is that the original construction made it difficult to fit both the extruder nozzle and cryogen line.
They also included a temperature control system to keep the extruder nozzle temperature at 18°F, otherwise the ice cream starts to melt even if temperature exceeds a mere two degrees.
The print time for the ice cream is 10-15 minutes which is short enough time for the ice cream to retain its shape in a freezer. The final setting for the 3D printer was a 3-mm layer height and a 16 mm/sec print speed.
Kristine Bunker says “We were inspired to design this printer because we wanted to make something fun with this up and coming technology in a way that we could grab the attention of kids. We felt that it was just as important to come up with a new technology as it was to interest the younger generation in pursuing science and technology so we can continue pushing the limits of what is possible.”
The product is yet to be brought into a commercial form. Till then, enjoy the 3D printing of the ice cream in the video below.