Hard to believe a price point so low, but they’ve delivered a few to early Kickstarter backers and this thing is amazing!
Pancakebot in action…
Look, I’ll watch a CNC machine all day long doing almost anything. I have to force myself to walk away to get other work done. Also, I love to cook and I’ve been a Guest Chef at the local restaurant multiple times:
CNC Bob, Guest Chef at Michael’s on Main…
The upshot is I’m intrigued about combining CNC with cooking. I’ve had my eye on a few articles about chocolate 3D printers, and I’ve written about Barbots before, but this Pancakebot seems so approachable.
Their Kickstarter raised $460,584 from 2074 backers to make these little special-purpose CNC machines. You get the software that looks easy enough your kids can do some of the designs. I even found this review from one of the early backers:
The details of how it works are interesting. The batter goes in a bottle and flow is controlled by a vacuum/compressed air line. This seems like a better idea than the stepper-driven syringes I’ve seen on other food printers, but who knows?
It prints directly onto a pancake griddle. You have to turn your own pancakes, and it can be a little slow (3D printing always seems slow to me). You also have to fine tune the feed pressure versus the consistency of the pancake batter.
3D Printing food seems to me at this stage to be a bit of a performance art. It doesn’t happen fast enough to keep a hungry audience satisfied. But, it’s so fun to watch, it might be worth it. I think you have to arrange not to have it be the main course for everyone being served.
Perhaps you premake pancakes while guests are gathered before the meal and keep them warm for dessert after the main course is finished. Or, maybe you’re only making a few pancakes for a few special guests–kids would be my choice.
At a restaurant, you could feature this for kids, let them pick their favorite characters for the pancakes, and deliver custom pancakes to these young guests. I’d look to have a bank of at least 4 of these guys if you plan on serving many kids. Perhaps it’d be a good thing for a kids birthday party.
Rather than pancakes, perhaps you could use it to decorate cakes. Assuming the griddle is removable and there’s enough Z clearance, it might be ideal for that, and once again it could be captivating for the guests. In a birthday party setting, imagine letting the kids design the cake decoration together during the first part of the party and then having the cake ready some time later.
Or, how about a cake to commemorate some event–birthday, anniversary, product launch, or whatever. Every guest “signs” and the signatures are converted to cake decoration. Kinda kitschy, but I could see it happening at many of the Silicon Valley software companies I’ve been around. Maybe the printing is going to unveil some new announcement and everyone at the launch is hanging around trying to make out what it will be as the printer gradually brings it into being.
If you’re looking to get kids into CNC, this seems like a fun entry for them that will get them interested. If you want a gimmick for a party or event, ditto.
Does it make any real commercial sense? No! It’s slow and finicky.
Is it fun? Yes! And I think that’s what matters most.
Now for those that already have a decent 3D printer, how about a kit that makes it super easy to do this kind of thing without needed a whole new printer?
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Bob is responsible for the development and implementation of the popular G-Wizard CNC Software. Bob is also the founder of CNCCookbook, the largest CNC-related blog on the Internet.