Episode 26 – Designing for the Fringe

Photo credit: Edible Growth by Chloé Rutzerveld

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What LILA has Been up To [01:27]

While LILA’s husband is off on an extended adventure, she is adjusting to the challenges of living alone. Meal planning for one has been a bit of a challenge. LILA is in search of easy, nutritious meals that she can prepare for just herself.

Conversation with Virginia Ingram, expert on fringe use cases for technology [04:35]

LILA interviews Virginia Ingram, an expert on the fringe use of technology. Virginia explains that when considering a new application of technology, the normal approach is to gear it towards a standard target audience. Virginia is interested in how that technology can be applied to the fringe audience—the audience that lays outside of this target range, such as the disabled community.

Virginia gives the example of a driverless car. Rather than designing it for the average commuter who can drive, she suggests designing it for someone who can not. The benefit is much greater for someone who is blind or a paraplegic.

Fringe benefits of 3D Printed Food [6:56]

3D printing itself is an amazing technology. Yet 3D printing FOOD? Virginia is excited about the potential applications for the fringe population. She explains that there are many people who have difficulty eating regular food, whether swallowing disorders, texture issues, or allergy issues. With 3D printing, food can be presented in ways that is easier to eat.

Virginia and LILA laugh about that 3D printing food is not like a replicator from Star Trek, but uses food as ink in the 3D printer. In fact, the results look closely like the real thing.

3D Printed food from PERFORMANCE for the Elderly

Someone with a swallowing disorder may only be able to eat food that has the consistency of baby food. A chicken breast can be 3D printed that looks and tastes like a chicken breast but has a texture that is easier to swallow.

Future practical applications of 3D printed food [11:57]

Think that a food 3D printer is a bit too futuristic for you? Virginia reminds us of how strange the microwave oven was to people 60 years ago. The availability of 3D printers for your kitchen is not that far away!

LILA and Virginia have some fun discussing foods that could be 3D printed. Think custom-made pizza modified for food allergies or lower calorie cookies personalized for the dieter. What about tableside cooking in a restaurant?  Talking about new things leads to awareness which leads to more innovation.

Current uses of 3D printers for food [18:25]

Virginia tells us that XYZprinting is currently selling a 3D printer for food and it’s not an outrageous price. Bakeries can use it to make cookies or pastries or writing “Happy Birthday” over and over again.

Cookies by XYZprinting


Virginia’s personal feelings regarding 3D printed food [20:21]

Virginia believes that 3D printed food is not something to be afraid of. The concept of personalized food is very exciting and the wave of the future. She encourages us to open our minds and learn more about the practical benefits.

French Onion Soup: Josiah Citrin, Melisse Restaurant & 3d Systems


Fun questions for Virginia [22:30]

Favorite food: NC style BBQ (can’t be 3D printed yet)
Favorite technology: Productivity APPS and 3D printing in general

Karen and Virginia Ingram
3D Shapeway of Virginia and her sister, Karen

 Lessons this week [28:35]

LILA is shaking things up with her fitness routine. She is now the proud owner of her own kettle bell and is surprisingly quite sore from this new form of exercise. LILA is challenging all of us to try a new workout, too. You might have interesting results as well!

Significant Quotes:


“What’s interesting about 3D printed food is that you are at the beginning of the industry…so that every printer is solving things a bit differently.” [9:18]

“Right now I could 3D print you a chicken breast, especially if you lived in a nursing home in Germany.” [10:49]

“I think that 3D printed food can be a real solution. People need to understand what it is and not be afraid of it.” [20:41]

“3D printed food is a really good example of the potential in a burgeoning industry.” [21:55]


“It kind of takes the ‘how do you approach a problem’ and really strips away everything that we already know.” [6:40]

“So are you talking about almost printing out a chicken breast or something?” [9:10]

“Fellow nerd, you are a sister after my own heart.” [11:10]

“I have my 15-pound kettle bell, which doesn’t seem like a lot…and I am in the whole ‘it hurts to sit down world’. What a surprise!” [23:30]

Next Time on 3D LILA

Talking of inspiration, we’re interviewing a fellow LILA next week. Her story is SO amazing and we kinda fell in love with her.

Links Mentioned

Virginia’s Contact Info:

XYZ Printing: http://us.xyzprinting.com/

TED Talk – Toaster: https://www.ted.com/talks/thomas_thwaites_how_i_built_a_toaster_from_scratch?language=en

Articles and Links Virginia Recommends

XYZ Printing cookies:  http://3dprintingindustry.com/2015/10/14/getting-a-taste-of-xyzprintings-new-3d-printing-treats-in-nyc/

PERFORMANCE food for the elderly:  http://www.performance-fp7.eu/

French Onion Soup – Josiah Citrin, Mélisse Restaurant and 3d Systems: http://www.3dsystems.com/culinary/collaborations/josiah-citrin

Wedding cake toppers – Duff Goldman, Charm City Cakes and 3d Systems http://www.3dsystems.com/culinary/collaborations/duff-goldman



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