It seems that there is nothing that somebody hasn’t tried to 3D print. These constant, and often bizarre, efforts to take anything at all and 3D print it is enough to drive a person to drink. Which is perfect for the folks staffing the creative robotics laboratory at the University of Arts and Design Linz. They are 3D printing liquids inside of other liquids to create a mind-blowing cocktail experience.
The drink, which the team is calling an “augmented cocktail,” takes a bit longer to prepare than a traditional mixed beverage, but the process is interesting enough that it gives you something worthwhile to do while you wait. The drink itself is not putting talented mixologists out of work; it still requires a human hand to create. It’s after the refreshment is prepared that the 3D printer is brought in to give it some finishing touches in the form of a 3D printed liquid structure floating inside the glass.
The team has not released the exact nature of the ingredients that are used to make up the printer’s drinkable ink in an effort to slow down copy cats, but my guess is that secrecy won’t buy them very much time. The machine they are using is no secret, however; it’s a very well known robot created by the German manufacturer KUKA. In this case, it is the KUKA LBR iiwa which participates as the bartender’s sidekick.
The idea behind the augmented cocktail is not alone on the printable beverage playing field. Work has been done on the integration of 3D printing into quenching thirst (or whatever personal reason you may have for drinking) for several years now. 2014 saw the debut of Yu Jiang Tham’s Bar Mixvah, a machine that could not only print out an actual cocktail, but provided a groaner of a pun at the same time. In the case of the Bar Mixvah, though, no actual bartender is necessary; instead, a MakerBot Replicator 2X 3D printer has been converted into a machine that can mix up to five different bottles of liquid into the perfect concoction. All that plus the social cachet for the low cost of $180.
Then there’s the Bartendro, but that will run you $3,699.99.
The KUKA Print A Drink machine is yet another sidekick, however, that has enough presence that it may steal the show for itself eventually. Despite the fact that its creation will disappear down the gullet of a thirsty barfly…or slide daintily down the the throat of an experienced palate, whichever way you want to see it, the creation of novelty drinks is just beginning.