By Evan Ackerman
So, did I succeed in sewing bewilderment and confusion (and, let’s hope, some curiosity) with that title? If so, it’s not due to my creativity… Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories have in fact created a machine called the CandyFab 4000, which uses heat fused sugar to create elaborate 3D shapes, such as toroidal coils:
This technique for constructing objects is called rapid prototyping, or more specifically, solid freeform fabrication. In general, it’s done with lasers or plastic extrusion printers or other expensive devices, but it works with any material that fuses. Sugar fuses easily when heat is applied, and you can buy bags of it at the grocery store for cheap, so why not turn it into a 3D prototyping medium? More on how this all works, plus the link love, after the jump.
The CandyFab 4000 uses a heat gun (controlled by CAD software) to make one “slice” of a 3D object by selectively heating “pixels” (actually voxels) of sugar to melting point. After heating one slice, a new layer of sugar is deposited, and the machine makes another pass to form the next layer of the object. At the end of the process, you’ve got a 3D melted sugar object buried in a big vat of residual unmelted sugar, which (obviously) you can use to make cotton candy… although the objects should be edible, nobody has admitted to biting a chunk out of one yet.
Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories estimated that their CandyFab 4000 would cost somewhere around $500 for a resourceful DIY-er. Of course, you’d have to know what you were doing, and it’s hard to put a price on that… Whatever it is, I can’t afford it. Be sure to click through for a bunch more pics.