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Industrious College Students Whip Up a Whimsical Pancake Printer

The project required $250, nine weeks, and a little know-how.

Here's one way to make an introductory engineering course more fun. According to The Boston Globe, a team of students at Olin College of Engineering have built a pancake-printing machine. Named the "Pancake CNC Machine," the device prints pancakes onto a griddle from images designed on a computer. "You can make anything: cartoon characters, geometric shapes, a yin yang symbol," says Trent Dye, one of the creators. The creation was submitted for a final project in the group's Principles of Engineering class. The design and building process took nine weeks on a surprisingly spare budget of $250.

How does it work? The pancake printer uses a condiment bottle filled with batter that shifts back and forth over the griddle to create the operator's desired shape. It works in conjunction with a computer program — also created by the students — that allows an artist to design patterns. The machine then takes the image and replicates it on the griddle. To create the clean lines of batter desired for the designs, they used two bottles to achieve the perfect batter flow rate. While students admit they may not be the best-tasting pancakes, they're not bad looking.

This is not the first device to apply 3D printing techniques to designer pancakes. In 2014, a designer named Miguel Valenzuela unveiled, PancakeBot, a batter-dispensing printer that made Eiffel Tower-shaped flapjacks and pancake replicas of President Obama. Although not the first of its kind, the college version may be the first created on such a small budget.

Watch the students demo the CNC Pancake Machine below:

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