3-D printing: Imagining the possibilities

by Jeff Gelski
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Pumpkin cookies
The 3-D printing systems could replicate in the bakery what workers and chefs do by hand. Courtesy of BeeHex, Inc.
 

Pipings and pizza toppings

BeeHex, Inc., a robotics company that builds fresh food 3-D printing systems, seeks to offer automation benefits for its customers, which could range from in-store bakeries to pizza chains. Last March, BeeHex completed a $1 million seed round led by Jim Grote, the founder of Grote Co., which manufactures food processing equipment. 

“There has to be a return on investment for our customers,” said Benjamin Feltner, chief operating officer and co-founder of BeeHex. “We’re automating one or more of their processes that go on in their kitchen or in their food production facilities.”

Benjamin Feltner, BeeHex
Benjamin Feltner, BeeHex

The 3-D printing systems could replicate in the bakery what workers and chefs do by hand, like hand-piping for icing and frosting on cookies, cakes, cupcakes and donuts.

Food cartridges may be plugged into free-standing 3-D printing machines. Technology may automate dispensing of dry ingredients and toppings on food products. 3-D printing could also automate the placement of toppings on pizza for one example. Eventually, a 3-D printer might print a whole pizza, Mr. Feltner said.

BeeHex has a prototype 3-D food printer that is about 5 feet high and about 4 feet by 4 feet, Mr. Feltner said.

“Any alternative to what we’re doing is a $1 million machine, or something in that ballpark,” he said. “It’s huge and needs to be run in a large production facility where they would make hundreds of thousands of pizzas a day or thousands of cupcakes an hour. We’re able to do the automation but on a much smaller scale, right there fresh.”

BeeHex offers several options for purchasing its 3-D printing technology.

“Our goal is to offer the most cost-effective way to utilize customizable automation with a small footprint -- ideal for grocery stores and bakeries,” BeeHex said.

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