3d printed pizzas and other delights

by federicapezza


“Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice”. This was the magic recipe creating the “Powerpuff girls” in the Cartoon Network Saga of the same name. In a similar way, Doctor Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s famous character, gave life to his own Creature in his laboratory.

The underlying idea was the possibility of creating something from nothing, through the combination of different ingredients. But, although genial, these two examples do not come from real life: that’s all about fiction.

Surprisingly, however, what is currently taking place is the revolution of the manufacturing industry through 3D Printing (or Additive Manufacturing) technology, resulting in the creation of solid objects from digital ones.

The possible applications of this new technology are numerous: let’s think about fashion and the recent fully articulated 3D printed dress specifically designed for Dita Von Teese; let’s also think about the electronics and the bio-science industries.

In food as well, although always connected to homemade traditions, 3D printing is slowly taking its first steps. And it’s not just about mass- produced food items like junk food and cheap high street chains: 3D printing goes hand in hand with quality and “nouvelle cuisine”. A further demonstration of this trend is the recent 3D-printed Barilla pasta campaign, but also the collaboration between Modica (one of the oldest and well-established Italian chocolate manufacturers) and a 3D printing retailer, or the realization of the typical Moon Cake through a 3D printing machine in Asia.

However, as the finest of traditions, new technologies mean new legal issues.

Specifically, the main problems arising relate to:

  1. Ownership;
  2. Copyright infringement;
  3. Privacy law; and
  4. Originality of the final work.

Even if it is quite difficult to find a precise answer for each of these questions, we can refer to the practice of whomever has made a 3D printout of their work.

Speaking with the “Makers cafe” team during a recent conference at Queen Mary, University of London, the audience had the opportunity to understand that normally a business is run through consultancy agreements, reserving all the property rights to the client.

Further, the normal way to deal with possible copyright issues is through detailed contracts, specifying the private use of the work in order to avoid any form of liability.

Privacy law and confidentiality concerns are normally foreseen by means of specific Non Disclosure Agreements (NDA).

Finally, the issue about originality has to be considered in the light of the transformative nature of the new work and the amount of creativity exercised by the author. Thus, it will result in a case-by-case evaluation.

Apart from the possible legal matters, many advantages are connected with this new kind of technology. Shorter production time, lower costs (the cheapest 3D printer is £400), and no skill requirement are just some of the notable advantages. Also, when applied to cooking strategies, 3D printing can surprisingly reveal itself as a powerful tool in order to achieve very complex products without any effort. For example, one would be able to make a tasty “tortellini” through the combination of different “tubes” of ingredients.

Striking the right balance between new technologies and related challenges, I have just one last recommendation for you. Put the ingredients in and, if you are not able to make your own pretty Powerpuff Girls, at least brace yourself and start enjoying your 3D printed pancakes! It is worth £400, isn’t it?

Federica Pezza

Assistant Editor QMJIP