One Silicon Valley startup called BeeHex has even invented a bot that can 3D-print pizza.
The inventors received a $125,000 grant from NASA to develop the device in 2016, cofounder Jordan French told Business Insider at the time. NASA was looking for a bot that could easily make something delicious (as opposed to normal, unappetizing space food) for astronauts during future Mars missions.
The startup has since shifted to adapting the prototype for the commercial market. In February, TechCrunch reported that it raised $1 million in seed funding to launch its first product, a pizza printer called the Chef 3D.
Starting later this year, the Chef 3D will appear at select theme parks, sports arenas, and malls. Compared to human workers, the robot is faster, cleaner, and more consistent, French says. Only one person is needed to work the machine, which can lay down the dough, sauce, and cheese for a 12-inch pizza in one minute, before you pop it in an oven for five.
Check it out below.
BeeHex’s bot, called the Chef 3D, can produce any type of pizza in any shape, French says. Like most 3D printers, it hooks up to a computer that tells it which dough, sauce, and cheese to use.
The team hasn’t finalized which brands will carry it, but Six Flags may sign on, French says. Customers will be able to order them at kiosks, which may look like this.
Customers will also eventually be able to order pizzas through the BeeHex app, which will ping them when they’re ready. First, you choose the pizza’s size (10 or 12-inch), dough (plain, tomato, or gluten-free), sauce (tomato basil, pesto, or vodka), and cheese (mozzarella or burrata).
Depending on the size, toppings, dough, and location, a Beehex pizza will cost anywhere from $8 to $15. More options will be available in the future, including thicker crusts and larger sizes.
The pizza possibilities are endless, French says. BeeHex’s system can take any jpg file and turn it into a pizza shape — even one that looks like Donald Trump.
Eventually, Beehex will experiment with making other foods, like bagels and scones (Pizzas are the easiest food to 3D-print because they’re flat).
After you place your order, the nozzle applies a layer of liquefied dough in the shape you want.
A pressurized system pushes each ingredient from the cartridges through the tubes and then out the nozzles. For harder cheeses like Parmesan, the bot knows to release more pressure.
The Chef 3D then repeats the process for the sauce and melted cheese. This process takes about one minute.
When it’s done, you pop it into a 400-degree oven for five minutes … and voilá! Time to slice up your 3D-printed pizza.
I tried a slice, which tasted exactly like a normal pizza. However, the pizza did cool off very quickly due to the ultra-thin crust. After a few minutes, the slices can taste more like crackers than pizza. (BeeHex’s creations are served best right after they come out of the oven.)
When piping hot, BeeHex’s pizzas rival those made by real chefs — maybe even better. “It has the potential to create more interesting foods, like, say, a pastry with hundreds of different layers,” French says. “These are things that you just can’t make with human hands.”