After mastering the art of generating meatless hamburgers and pizza with all the fixings, 3D printing has moved on to dessert, thanks to the work of three MIT students who invented a machine that can create star-shaped ice cream. 

By way of a class project, the students--Kyle Hounsell, Kristine Bunker and David Donghyun Kim--invented the device, which is a cross between a Solidoodle 3D printer and a Cuisinart Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker. And though they're still in early days, the young inventors are already talking about breaking into the fast-food service world.

"We imagine this technology being marketable in ice cream parlors such as Dairy Queen where customers can order an ice cream treat, wait 15 minutes, and see the shape they chose be created," the students told "Of course last, and more importantly, we aim to enjoy the ice cream after successful printing!"

The machine uses liquid nitrogen to cool down the printed soft serve ice cream so it can hold the shape. The Solidoodle controls the movement of the printer so a desired shape can be laid out.

Besides ice cream, people have 3D printed chocolate, pizza, and even burgers. As the food industry is getting increasingly "hacked" by the new technology, successful food vendors may find themselves spending more time on the design of their food, not only on the flavor.

Still, the innovation is yet to be commercialized. The students say that they will need to modify the machine to bring it to the market. Till then, think about your favorite ice cream shape!

Published on: Jul 18, 2014