Jello Shot Printer

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While inspecting some jello shots for a friend’s upcoming 25th birthday, [Sprite_tm] had an epiphany. What if you could print designs inside the jello shots? He quickly grabbed a syringe and proceeded to inject food dye into one of the jello shots — it worked. Unfortunately, his friend pointed out that it would take far too long to do each jello shot by hand, to which [Sprite] responded:

Never mind that, I’ll just whip up  a 3D printer that can make nice figures in the jelly for you.

Classic. The great thing about the hacker-mindset is that you never say no when confronted with a problem!

To achieve this printer, [Sprite_tm] has taken a handful of old CD-ROM drives to create a three axis moving platform. He’s using a forth drive’s ejector assembly to depress a syringe which pushes a concoction of banana liquor, green food colouring and cornstarch through medical tubing to the ink-head. To control it, he’s just using an ATTiny2313 with a mere 2K of memory. It took a bit of fiddling with to find the right flow, but works surprisingly well. Stick around after the break to see its printing capabilities.

[via Reddit]

Comments

  1. 0xfred says:

    Nice. I wonder if the results would be better or worse if the jello was only partially set when printing?

    • webkris says:

      ^ I was just thinking that. There is probably a good 5 minutes where you can zoom through the liquid depositing color and it won’t mix.
      OR – find an additive that will resist mixing that you won’t really taste like a cooking oil.

      Very cool!
      – Kris

      • Spider says:

        oil has a taste though and the oil taste would actually come out in the jelly. The best way to do it so that you dont change the taste of the jelly would be to use the same flavour jelly that you are printing to. Plus you have the added advantage that the holes you are creating are being added with jelly again.

      • Rich Grise says:

        I immediately got an image of a seven needle head, where the center needle puts out the foreground or background color and the ones around it put out just the background. Then, vary the flow rate for one of the surrounding needles opposite the direction of motion. That way, you could actually build the whole shot from nothing.

        If anybody makes a billion dollars off this idea, please paypal me a few bucks, OK? ;-)

    • Nicholas says:

      I agree with the partially set idea. If he wanted to go all the way with it; I think it would be best to have a sort of automatic mixer that could be set in the bowl when in the fridge to bring the jello to a uniform viscosity. From there he could use syringes filled with fully set jello and inject that. This way the more dense jello would hopefully resist the want to deform under the pressure of the mixture pushing in around it. How he does it currently works only because he is cutting lines in the jello for his ink to fill. When the jello tries to spring back it then squishes the ink around and I would assume that is the reason for the poor resolution.

  2. Dave says:

    Nice hack. The result would be better of the needle only placed a “dot” on one location, then left the jello, went to the next location, entered the jello, placed a “dot” etc….

  3. yetihehe says:

    Maybe if he didn’t move needle sideways and only did something like vertical rastering (moving needle down and then extract small blobs of liquid when going up) it could achieve better resolution? Currently needle makes “wake” of black ink, that’s why lines are stretched vertically.

  4. Joseph says:

    I wonder if printing in to a media could work as a way of printing without the need for a second nozzle to print scaffolding.

    • Alex says:

      I was thinking the same thing. A group of needles would make it go faster if you were doing the “vertical rastering” method mentioned above, and you could keep the material hot and cool it slowly when your parts are done, kind of like a heated build chamber.

      There would be a lot of problems to work out, but I dunno. It sounds like a neat idea to try.

  5. I think a thicker ‘ink’ mix would stop some of the bleeding. Maybe cook up a thin ‘gravy’ of water and corn starch, die that, and try it.

    • supershwa says:

      I was wondering if that would work, too. I think it would probably be better to use corn syrup, mixed with a few drops of food coloring as the ink (too much food coloring WILL make your guests “colorfully” sick…)

      • The only reason I picked corn starch is because it’s easy to vary the thickness of the final fuild by increasing the amount of starch per volume of water. You could dial it in anywhere from a thin watery liquid, up to toothpaste like consistency just by varing the amounts.

        You just mix the water and starch and boil for a couple minutes until thickened.

  6. Jessie Wan says:

    That should be “fourth”

  7. vonskippy says:

    Makes the jello shot look like it has a mold infection – I’d pass if those were handed out at a party.

    • prof_braino says:

      Noted: No jello shots for vonskippy

      This might be overly complicted, but:
      How about release a dot of dye, move beyond the dot and extract a drop or two worth of jello, then retract; after moving past the dye, release some of the jello that was extracted. This might act as a plug or stop for the dye. I would try this, but I tend to fumble after jello shots.

  8. Dracos says:

    This begs for a fluorescent “ink”.

  9. ANC says:

    He’s using a forth drive’s ejector assembly…

    Talking we’re, now!

  10. t-bone says:

    A syringe at a friend’s 25th birthday party? Don’t want to know…

    Very original thinking on this one. Who knew that lack of designs in your jello was a problem? I like it.

  11. ameyring says:

    Very cool – just keep the shots away from those holding soldering irons! The needle needs to be higher at the start/end so it doesn’t get bent when inserting/removing cups.

  12. DR says:

    Everybody (I hope) knows of putting club soda (specifically the quinine) in jello shots to make em glow under blacklight. I wonder if it’d work alright to skip the dye concoction and just inject club soda with the printer.

  13. Galane says:

    Use a row of needles, stab them in then pulse out patterns of dots as they’re pulled back up. Move over a bit and repeat. Like making a static image version of a 3D LED cube. Could do it even faster with a 2D array of needles.

    The big trick would be stopping the filling from smearing out vertically in the needle holes.

  14. AndroidCat says:

    At first I thought it was an article on using Jello shots as a printer, rather than 3D printing in Jello.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hectograph

  15. LXDickman says:

    trade jello for agar, and make me a kidney, so I can take more shots

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