Sure, you can get a latte to go at Japanese café FabCafe, but you might be missing the point. The innovative café from digital production company Loftwork takes 3D printing and robotics to the next level, with elaborate projects and workshops that allow its customers to experiment for themselves and create unique gifts and takeaways. The mini chain has just opened its seventh location, in Singapore, with other outposts in Japan, Taiwan, Spain, Thailand, and France. This year it plans to open yet two more locations, one in Europe and another in Asia.
Here are a few of its most amazing adventures.
Your Head, in Chocolate
In 2013 FabCafe hosted a workshop with partner KS Design Lab that allowed its patrons the chance to get a full body 3D scan, 3D-print a mold of their head using a ProjetHD printer, fill it with chocolate, and plant the resulting edible treat in a box of bonbons for Valentine’s Day.
Another idea? Customized 3D-printed gummy selfies! Unlike the lame ones at Dylan’s Candy Bar, these are actually 3D and totally look like you.
You can still make a customized bust of your head in plastic, not chocolate (sorry), at the café: It only takes about three hours.
Also make personalized stamps, puzzles, tote bags, and more.
Robots Make the Best Coffee
As part of a recent exhibit hosted at FabCafe in Japan, Bubble Lab showcased its robot arm coffee maker, which would make you a delicious single-origin coffee pour over.
Play With Your Food
3D-print a special message on a macaron or a piece of white bread. It only takes about 30 minutes for the cookie and 15 for the bread, plus the time you’ll need to fiddle with your design on the iPad. Mine would say, “Chocolate chip cookies are better than macarons.”
We’ve seen the beginnings of this trend in the U.S. with 3D-printed latte art at places like Milk Street Cafe, in Boston, but it will only get more intense as 3D printing becomes easier. Here’s hoping we get a FabCafe in the States soon.