October 15, 2005 6:48 PM   Subscribe

MIT Media Lab's Counter Intelligence Group, which develops innovative kitchen designs, has created a machine that makes dishes on demand and recycles them after diners have finished a meal. The dishes are made from food-grade, nontoxic acrylic wafers, which are shaped into cups, bowls and plates when heated, then resume their original wafer shape when they are reheated and pressed.
posted by Shanachie (14 comments total)
Counter Intelligence website. Also, an article from Technology Review on other CI designs and Professor Ted Selker, who heads the group. (You may not know the name, but you know the nub-mouse in the middle of your laptop keyboard? He came up with it at IBM).
posted by whatzit at 7:44 PM on October 15, 2005

I wonder if the Techies were inspired by the Norge Dish Maker in the 1964 World's Fair's Festival of Gas Pavilion:

"The Norge Dish Maker ground, washed and dried the family's plastic dinnerware and molded the pellets into new plates, cups and saucers."
posted by Opposite George at 7:50 PM on October 15, 2005

That's funny, just reading a book, Singularity by Bill DeSmedt and a character in it called Mycroft had the exact same gizmo.. Wonder if Mr DeSmedt knew of this MIT project.
posted by zeoslap at 9:07 PM on October 15, 2005

This is just in time for the next Bond movie. Its a cool idea but sometimes I just want to eat off a particular plate, not one that can be replicated.
posted by fenriq at 10:01 PM on October 15, 2005

Cool contraption. But not nearly as cool as the name of the group that designed it. What can I say? I love a good/bad pun.
posted by brundlefly at 10:13 PM on October 15, 2005

You can't tell me that this is more energy efficient than having real ceramic tableware that lasts 5-10 years.

Will you need your own polymer forming station in your house, or is this somewhere you need to drive to and put in an order?
posted by Balisong at 10:34 PM on October 15, 2005

the dishes are ok, thanks for the concern.
posted by longsleeves at 11:01 PM on October 15, 2005

"If you made and recycled one of our plates three times a day for a year, the energy that goes into that is comparable to the energy required to make one ceramic plate (in a factory) because the ceramic is fired at about 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit," says Bonanni. "

Yet, I could go visit my parents and eat off the same ceramic plates I did when I was an infant.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:11 PM on October 15, 2005

Plus, it doesn't take an extra 1,000 degrees of heat for each plate. Kilns fire hundreds (commercialy, thousands) of plates at a time.

(Disclaimer: I used to work in a pottery shop as a hand thrower on a wheel / work with industrial ceramics currently)
posted by Balisong at 11:37 PM on October 15, 2005

Yet another example of stuff we don't want or need but which will be marketed to us nevertheless (like the famous internet/tv fridge).

"It's an omelette-maker that doubles as a vacuum pump! It's a coffee-maker that whistles "Dixie" when the cat's litter tray is full! It's a sponge that can do your tax and still has time to teach the kids Tai Kwon Do!!"

Why do I get the feeling that this is going to be HUGE in Japan?
posted by ninazer0 at 3:27 AM on October 16, 2005

The dishware fab contraption does seem to solve a nonexistent problem. On the other hand, the fridge that displays its contents on the outside of the door to save energy is a nifty idea-- I imagine with e-paper-esque tech and IR (instead of keeping a bulb on inside the fridge) this could be done pretty cheaply.
posted by gwint at 5:36 AM on October 16, 2005

I so thought it said: "MIT Media Lab's Coulter Intelligence Group."

Dyslexia is so much fun!
posted by jpburns at 8:26 AM on October 16, 2005

> The dishes are made from food-grade, nontoxic acrylic wafers

Brand name Necco
posted by jfuller at 10:21 AM on October 16, 2005

I remember playing with one of these as a kid, but it was way cooler because it made Beetlontodons and Hooded Skulkaronamuses instead of boring plates and cups. It was made by Mattel.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:26 PM on October 16, 2005

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