It seems that CES 2014 had its very own Willy Wonka factory going on in one corner. Two 3D printers were unveiled at the event in Las Vegas, showcasing their talent for creating sweets and chocolate.

Chefjet, the smaller of the two printers, is limited to producing monochrome goodies but Chefjet Pro is able to create multicoloured objects.

Chefjet 3D Food Printer

Built by the US firm 3D Systems, the machines can print using chocolate or sugar, which has been infused with flavours like mint, vanilla, cherry and watermelon. The Chefjet Pro can create “photographic-quality” pictures, which can be wrapped around surfaces such as cakes.

The 3D printers can also produce sweets by spreading a fine layer of the flavoured sugar. This is then painted with water using a jet print head, turning the substance in to hardened crystals. The process is repeated until you have an edible 3D object.

Before you rush out to buy one, it’s worth hearing how much they cost. For a basic version, it will cost $5,000 and the bigger, more advanced one costs $10,000.

They certainly don’t come cheap. I’m sure Willy Wonka’s Oompa Loompas were cheaper to keep.

Yet this is becoming a fiercely competitive market, with around 30 firms showcasing 3D printing technology at CES this year. A Spanish start-up company, named Natural Machines, recently unveiled a prototype that can create chocolates and ravioli pasta. Even NASA has funded a project to build a food printer for it astronauts.

However Duncan Wood, publisher of 3D printing-themed TCT Magazine, thinks that 3D Systems is still ahead of the game. “There’s no doubt that 3D Systems remains the dominant player in the market thanks to the range of the machine categories it offers and the size of its R&D team. And with the new products over here at CES they’ve really stolen the show in many ways.”

[Image via Geeky Gadgets]

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25647918