IC students use pancakes to practice 3D printing

ITHACA — Tuesday is National Pancake Day, and in honor of the event a physics professor at Ithaca College is talking about how he uses the food to teach high-tech concepts.

Professor Michael “Bodhi” Rogers says he and his students are working with an invention called PancakeBot. It’s a machine that allows them to make three-dimensional—and edible—pictures out of pancake batter on a hot griddle surface.

Rogers says he’s been challenging his students to use the robotic griddle to reproduce pictures of people and other images.

“Instead of having plastic, this is using pancake batter, so it has certain challenges,” he said. “The students have to reproduce their photograph or a portrait of somebody into different shades of pancake, the order to lay that down in, and then they get to see how their design worked and go back and modify it.”

Rogers says it helps students learn their way around the real 3D printers they use in their work.

“You can program in four different delays,” he said. “The first batter that goes down will become the darkest, and then you can lay down another set of batter that will be a slightly lighter shade of brown. You have to think about how you can reduce down that picture to just four shades and have it still look like the person.”

Rogers says he found PancakeBot through Kickstarter and thought it would be a fun way to help teach his students.

Leave a Reply