The vast majority of personal 3D printers can produce objects in ABS and/or PLA, and some can operate with polycarbonate, nylon, and LAYWOO-D3. Others can print in chocolate, icing, and cheese. But printers that can print in chocolate can’t also print in plastic. The reason why is the extrusion process; plastic filament must be melted through a hot end while chocolate is kept warm in a syringe and plunged out. The extruders are very different. Otherwise, the machines are very similar: objects are created one layer at a time through XYZ motion. The Kickstarted Hyrel 3D printer takes advantage of a modular, hot-swappable head that makes the system capable of both types of extrusion.
That has got to be the simplest method of changing a head ever. Though the current Hyrel syringe system, Emulsifiable Extruder (EMO1), isn’t intended for foods (it doesn’t warm contents), it works well with materials that are of similar consistencies, like clay, plasticine, RTV silicone, and even Play-Doh. You may remember the ThinkGeek April Fools Play-Doh 3D printer, but did you think it’d be reality two months later? To top it off, since there’s no heating and it’s already nontoxic, it’s totally kid safe. And just like with hand-molded Play-Doh models, it’s reusable. You can see the Play-Doh below, but you can also watch the plasticine and clay printing.
Spectacular. Now, like I said, the EMO1 isn’t intended for foods, but maybe EMO2 will be. After all, the Hyrel can hold up to four different heads at once. Why couldn’t that be various frostings? And what happens when you print clay along with plasticine? All this and more after the Hyrel starts shipping! According to the 33rd live broadcast, that should start in a couple weeks.