Is enjoying something for a moment less valuable than being able to hold it forever?

I plan on playing with the idea of what a 3d printer can do.  I would like to try something more extreme than printing a plastic object and challenge myself by printing a completely edible object using the 3d printer.  I’m inspired by the idea of someone eating an object that I believe represents them.  It’s entertainingly cannibalistic.  This project will take some, “Do-it-yourself,” work which will require me to print and assemble my own extruder, and also purchasing or making my own filament.  There is not a solid design idea as to what the objects I’m printing will look like due to the fact that I will be designing and printing different objects for different people.  There is also this interesting idea that my edible objects might be seen as less meaningful because they wont last nearly as long as typical plastic based printed objects.

The idea of printing edible objects is important because of what the world is already saturated in; plastic.  Creating something that can be eaten and then eventually return to the earth after exiting someone’s body seemed most practical to me.  I wanted to approach this project and challenge not only myself but the 3d printer and its capabilities.  Rather than attribute to the plastic all around me, I’ve decided to get rid of the plastic

altogether when printing my final objects.

My central exploration surrounding my idea of the meaning behind something edible and also its context as a physical object led my research to interesting areas.  I was able to find an article titled Do We See Apples as Edible written by Benece Nanay.  Nanay poses a question, “What properties are represented by perceptual experiences? (Nanay 305)”  This immediately made me think of the implications of the objects I would eventually print, the meaning behind eating an object that wouldn’t typically be edible, and how someone might go about eating, or not eating it.  Do the shapes of objects define what action we take?  The properties that objects have are characterized by our actions (Nanay 311.)  Printing edible objects is quite a daunting task considering there didn’t seem to be much of a market at the start of my research.  As I progressed I was able to find that some companies were playing around with the idea of creating edible objects made with a 3d printer.  The process appears to be in its early stages from an article that I discovered which was published in 2012.  The process of creating these edible objects involved heating the chocolate up in a tub before printing and maintaining it at just the right temperature (Sereno et all 827).  Although laborious the challenge of finding a workable filament is both exciting and daunting, the challenge will fuel my project.  The advancements in technology are making the way edible objects are created more accessible and less costly (Sereno et all 832).  This can turn anyone into an edible molder at a low personal cost.  The accessibility of 3d printers is exciting, in the foreseeable future people may have printers that can spit out a huge variety of things (Greengard 17).

This projects central question is, “On a planet already loaded with too much stuff, what idea is worth turning into more stuff?”  This question challenged me and inspired fear within myself.  I wanted desperately to create something that would be worth more than personal value or accomplishment.  I set out to challenge myself and figure out how to produce objects that weren’t sentimental but meaningful and EDIBLE.  Something that you can hold but also eat, something meaningful but also tasty.  In many ways I wanted to work without plastic and go beyond what I thought was possible and figure out what else I can make this printer do.  Challenge, devotion, and creation make my idea worthy of running with for eight weeks.


Works Cited


Greengard, Samuel. “All the Items Fit to Print.” Communications of the ACM Vol. 56.Issue 7 (Jul2013): p17–19. Web.

Nanay, Bence. “Do We See Apples As Edible?” Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 92.3 (Sep2011): 305–322. Web.

Sereno, L. et al. “A New Application for Food Customization with Additive Manufacturing Technologies.” AIP Conference Proceedings Vol. 1431.Issue 1 (2012): p825–833. Web.