While we had previous tapped Nike or adidas to likely be one of the first companies to bring 3D printing to the masses (thanks to their enormous budgets for R&D and their ability to turn out tech-infused fashion/sportswear at affordable prices), it seems Dylan's Candy Bar might have just beat the sportswear giants to it. The New York-headquartered boutique candy company, founded by Ralph Lauren's daughter, Dylan, has partnered with Katjes Fassin UK, the latter of which launched its Magic Candy Factory in 2001 and is responsible for creating what is being billed as the “first 3D candy printer in the world." As of this week, the Magic Candy Factory has named Dylan’s Candy Bar as its exclusive partner for domestic retail and online sales, and as a result, is bringing its 3D printing capabilities stateside.
What exactly is 3D printing, you ask? Well, put simply it is the utilization of various processes to synthesize a three-dimensional object. To date, we have seen it come in the form of sneakers, such as adidas' new 3D printed sneakers, which are constructed from reclaimed ocean plastic. We have also seen it embodied in the work of designer Iris Van Herpen and in the shoes that the late Zaha Hadid created in connection with United Nude. These are, of course, just a few examples, as the practice spans an array of industries and is not just limited to fashion.
But back to the gummy bears: According to a joint statement from the two companies, the Magic Candy Factory 3D printer will offer Dylan’s customers over 100 different designs to choose from, the ability to write names or special words, draw candy creations and print greetings on gummy cards. Shoppers can also select a color, flavor combination and a unique “magic” finishing to be added to their own personal creation. The price of the candy design is a flat rate of $20 per print.
The Magic Candy printer uses a special mixture of natural vegan ingredients that are heated up and applied using a nozzle to produce different shape combinations. The shapes are then turned into coded instructions, from an easy-to-use, user-friendly tablet in-store, alerting the printer where, at what speed and what frequency is needed to apply each of the layers. The process takes approximately 10 minutes from start to finish, with three to five minutes for printing time.
WHAT ABOUT THE LAW?
The introduction of 3D printed candy and other consumable products, in general, raises some serious issues regarding the practice that are otherwise not applicable in connection with sneakers or futuristic dresses. Because 3D printing is a largely new frontier, it is a relatively lawless one for the most part (due to that novelty). However, as the practice develops - as it is doing right before our eyes (think: 3D printed gummy bears) - concerns arise, and so does legislation. And indeed that is the case with 3D printing, as from issues regarding intellectual property to those of federal approval, laws and guidelines are slowly evolving.
As you can imagine, intellectual property law is one of the most commonly cited sects of law in connection with the rise of 3D printing, as anyone who owns rights in product designs stands to be affected by the capabilities of this technology. However, there are serious concerns when it comes to government regulation of food, which is applicable to the printing of gummy bears.
Given the wide array of the possibilities associated with 3D printing, including 3D printing food, this practice will certainly fall under the jurisdiction of a large number of Congressional committees and administrative agencies, including but not limited to the Food and Drug Administration, which released draft guidance, entitled, "Technical Considerations for Additive Manufactured Devices: Draft Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff," just about a week ago. While much of the guidelines contained therein are elementary, certainly more complex guidelines will come into fruition in the fairly near future.
In short: this is a developing area of law to keep an eye on!