Barilla crowdsourcing a new 3D-Printed Pasta

Leading Italian pasta maker has pursued many innovative initiatives in the last few years. But the company’s experiments with 3D printing and crowdsourcing in 2014 are among the more fascinating ones.

Earlier this year the company teamed up with Dutch scientific research firm TNO to work on a custom 3D pasta printer, capable of printing 15-20 pieces of pasta every two minutes. The idea was for customers to head into a restaurant, possibly with their own pasta CAD files on their cell phones, and print them right at the table. Wouldn’t it be nice? Well Barilla didn’t stop there…

In parallel with the 3D printing effort, the company also launched a crowdsourcing campaign in August this year: The campaign which was called PrintEat!, was asking 3D designers to come up with unique shapes for pasta “that could be 3D printed directly at home or in your favorite restaurant.” The project was less about revolutionizing the shape of pasta, “but subverting whole productive systems,”

According to the 3D Printing site 3DPrint, the campaign has been a success: 530 international product designers from more than 20 countries took up the challenge, producing 216 design concepts. Countries with the highest number of active contestants were: Italy, United States, Netherlands, France and Germany.

The Top 3 winners each received a cash prize of €800:

  • Rosa Pasta from Loris Tupin, a French industrial designer from Maxilly sur Léman, is a ‘bio-dynamic’ 3D model that ‘blooms’ to turn into a rose when placed in boiling water.
  • Vortipa by Danilo Spiga and Luis Fraguarda, a product design team from Cagliari, Italy. Their pasta was based on the vortex pattern progression system and it looks a bit like a Christmas tree.
  • Lune, by Alessandro Carabini, an Italian product designer who works in collaborative Studio Abaco in Paris, France, submitted a full moon with craters, and he says it will “improve the interaction between pasta and sauces.”
Rosa Pasta from Loris Tupin

Rosa Pasta from Loris Tupin

If companies in the food industry can pull off a move to such playgrounds, the 3D printed food can solve issues like storage, and also act as a great way to offer custom-products with a totally new business model. You can think of a pasta company like Barilla in 5 years as a firm which sells printers, pasta cartridges in addition to $0.99 pasta designs on its dedicated app.

What other types of consumer goods products can run such campaigns? Any ideas?

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Photo credit: Air Force One / IWoman / CC BY-NC-ND

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