3D printing is taking over virtually every manufacturing scenario across the globe with its limitless possibilities. Yet another example is in the never exhausting food industry. McDonald’s, the largest fast food company has come up with a 3D printed straw which lets your sip the last drop of nectar in your glass. Especially in the case of shakes which have different consistency due to the mixture of different materials. For example Chocolate Shamrock Shake (to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day) which has varying thickness levels of chocolate and milkshake. Basically the treat has minty green milkshake at the bottom half and chocolate at the bottom half.
The straw dubbed as STRAW (Suction Tube for Reverse Axial Withdrawal) is developed by engineers from NK Labs and JACE to suck everything from the glass without getting embarrassed. But the experts created this straw to suck both the top half and bottom half at the same time for consistency in taste. After a lot of pondering they came up with the idea to make a straw with multiple holes with the bottom of straw curled up.
This way you would be technically sucking from top down. Multiple holes means you will experience the taste of chocolate and milkshake at the same time. Once they got the basic idea right, it was time to get the straw hole size and position right. And hence came into existence this J-shaped straw which is much better for treats like the Chocolate Shamrock Shake.
Seth Newburg, principal engineer and managing partner at NK Labs:
At some points when you’re drinking it, you can get an exact 50-50 mix of the flavors. But with the different conditions: Full cup, nearly empty cup, depending how much it melted, you could get some slight variations. But we made sure that you’re still getting both flavors all the way through.
For now McDonalds’ is testing this new straw in over 80 locations with a speculated 2000 STRAW’s being rolled out in their fast food chains. Once the design is successful the fast food giant will roll it out for the food market.