3d printing faces in sugar-based filament

At the CBI annual conference Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn were telling us about the perils of Brexit and how they were the best thing for the UK economy, but a more interesting activity was happening at the back of the hall: a line of printers was whirring away producing almost-three-dimensional faces of the visitors (and of the politicians).  Delegates to the conference could have their photo taken and within minutes they would have a lovely picture of their face wrapped up as a sweet treat to take home to their family to display the beauty of 3D printing.  Actually several of the delegates couldn’t wait and were stuffing their faces with …. well, with their own faces.
 
The company producing these 3D images was Advanced Software (oneadvanced.com) who are a large UK software provider mostly working in cloud computing and they were using this printing to help businesses to “reimagine” their businesses.  The filament they used was 3D Magic Candy, 50% sugar and advertised as safe for “free from” consumers – it’s nut free, dairy free, gluten free and suitable for vegetarians.   They then offered toppings from various European countries with Magic Glitter Dust coming from Italy, Magic Fizzy Dust from France and Magic Sour Dust from the UK.  Again, the main ingredient of each of these toppings is sugar and flavours run from Luscious Lemon to Gorgeous Green Apple.
 
When you think about it sugar is well suited to use as a print medium because it’s cheap, appealing to children (as well as CBI delegates), water soluble, non poisonous and well understood.  It also has a low melting point and can be dissolved away when needed for certain casting processes.  It has been widely used for promotional items but increasing it will be used for consumer applications – on birthday cakes or wedding cakes it can be used to produce letters and names but it can also be the way to print models and likenesses to go on the top of celebratory cakes.  But 3D printing with  edible material is not just for cosmetic purposes – recently researchers have been looking at using 3D printing for medical applications such as producing food that can be given to people with dysphagia – the inability to swallow – https://3dprinting.com/food/researchers-looking-food-printing-potential-solution-dysphagia/
 
Maybe we will see print-outs of favourite politicians being used to persuade the public to vote for them.  Instead of the traditional “bread and circuses” that the satirist Juvenal said Roman politicians were offering almost 2,000 years ago, today’s voters may be offered “bread and 3D printed sweets.”
 

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