Donatos founder invests in Ohio company's 3-D pizza printer
Published: March 16, 2017
COLUMBUS (AP) — The founder of Donatos Pizza is investing in the development of a 3-D printer that can build pizzas with dough, sauce and cheese.
Columbus-based startup BeeHex has raised $1 million to fund the development of a commercial prototype of its Chef 3D machine. Jim Grote, the founder of Donatos Pizza and food-processing equipment maker Grote Co., is the lead investor, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
"The technology is unmatched in bringing unique opportunities to the food industry," Grote said.
BeeHex co-founder Anjan Contractor said the company is also developing a conveyor oven, an ordering and payment interface and an "order topping robot" as pieces of what the company hopes will be a nearly autonomous solution for customers.
BeeHex launched its Chef 3D system last year and demonstrated it at Ohio State University. The machines, which are not yet available for purchase, can print a pizza in about one minute by extruding dough, sauce and cheese onto parchment paper. A human tops the pizza and slips it in and out of the oven.
The company hopes to market the printers to grocery stores, amusement parks and big retailers.
"There are big pizza chains that are interested in deploying the technology," said Jordan French, a BeeHex co-founder. "Big-box retailers, that's a massive market."
Dennis Lombardi, principal of Insight Dynamics, a food-service consultancy, said the pizzas could end up in vending machines or used on delivery trucks.
"It may have many applications," Lombardi said. "But the bottom line of success is how many customers think it makes good-tasting pizza."
Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com