Dishmaker

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A dishmaker was designed by Leonardo Bonanni. It can create cups, bowls, and plates and recycle them into their raw material when they are done being used.

Barbara Wheaton did not want to wash dishes and wanted a more durable, disposable dish (Zetter 2005). The MIT Media Lab’s Counter Intelligence Group created a machine that did just that, making dishes on demand out of food-safe materials then recycling them for use later (Zetter 2005).

Operation[edit]

The Dishmaker uses a shape-memory property of acrylic to make the dishes, which allows them to be reused over and over again (Torrone 2007). The machine takes up the same space as a regular dishwasher and uses less energy. It has the ability to make many dishes, so it is even useful when hosting guests. The Dishmaker also eliminates the need for cupboards, because all of the dishes are stored inside of it as flat discs of acrylic. When a certain dish is needed, a user interface much like that of a microwave is used. The cook just selects the number of cups, plates, or bowls needed and then out comes the dishes. A single dish can be made in just 90 seconds, and the Dishmaker can hold up to 150 dishes (Wired News 2005).

The dishes are made through a relatively simple process. They start out just as acrylic discs. When the user selects the type of dish they want, a computer tells the machine and it heats the acrylic into that shape. The material cools quickly and, of course, is safe for eating. When done, the user simply puts the dishes back into the machine and the reverse of the dish-making process takes place. The acrylic is heated to about 300 °F (149 °C) and formed back into its 6-inch-diameter (150 mm) disc (Wired News 2005).

Advantages and disadvantages[edit]

The Dishmaker’s main advantage is it uses less energy for forming as it can make 150 acrylic dishes with less energy than it takes to make one normal ceramic dish (Wired News 2005). However, as the dishes are not completely cleaned by reforming, the energy used to create the dishmaker, and the unknown durability of the acrylic, it is unclear how much energy is saved overall.

There are many drawbacks that are still being worked out with the first version of the Dishmaker. All the dishes are the same design right now, so there is no variety as you see with dishes today. Also, cups don’t take up the same material as a bowl, so there is a lot of left over material that ends up at the lip of the cup, making it awkward-looking and difficult to drink out of (Wired News 2005). The problem of cleaning the dishes is not fully worked out. The heating process when the dishes are put back into disc shape naturally takes care of much of the food that would be left on them. However, grease and other foods not affected by the heat would not be removed. In fact, the grease can settle into the material when it is heated (Wired News 2005). A dishwashing mechanism could be worked into the machine, but the goal is to keep it water-free to keep it as efficient as possible (Wired News 2005).

Uses[edit]

In the near future this device could be used in hospitals, schools, jails, and any other business where many dishes are needed and style is not an issue. It would save enough energy that the device would be a great investment for any school or hospital. Cafeteria workers would simply make the dishes at any time during the day then recycle them instead of using so much energy to wash them.

The device may not have a future in homes because people like to have permanent dishes. Many people collect dishes and enjoy the artistic designs and styles of the many different kinds of dishes. If the device could be shrunken and some more kinks worked out, the average consumer may want one for the convenience of everyday use. They would not replace their nice dishes, but use those on certain occasions and use the recyclable dishes when they just want a quick meal or snack, much like the way paper products are used today. The Dishmaker could effectively take the place of paper dish products.

References[edit]