NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Unknown to most hungry snack food fans, food and beverage giant PepsiCo  (PEP - Get Report) has been using 3-D printing to help produce Ruffles potato chips since 2011. 

Tapping into the power of 3-D printing has created multiple benefits for the company when it comes to producing its Ruffles "Deep Ridged" potato chips.  "In the past, to find this perfect potato chip design might have taken 12 to 18 months because we would go and make a hand slicer, create some chips, take it to consumers, and then get their feedback. Now with 3-D printing, we have cut that down to three months," explained Richard Dunham, PepsiCo R&D Senior Director in an interview with TheStreet. 

The process involved designing several prototype Ruffles chips etched from a 3-D printer, then testing the sizes with consumers to see what they preferred.  The winning size then sent PepsiCo off to create a new potato chip slicer at its manufacturing plants.

According to Dunham, the better designed chip slicer has helped to reduce inefficiencies that would arise in the old process, such as creating chips that are too thin and prone to breaking when dipped. 

On the other hand, a common Ruffles chip size has allowed the company to offer wacky flavors overseas such as hamburger and squid quicker from the time they were conceived by chefs.  Various flavors of Ruffles 'Deep-Ridged' chips are now in 30 markets around the globe. 

PepsiCo has not expanded its use of 3-D printing to its other potato chip platforms such as Lay's, confirmed a spokesman.  It may want to get that process going in order to lower costs amid sluggish soda sales.  Nevertheless, it would appear the company has a leg up on a key chip competitor in the 3-D printing arena. 

A spokesman at Kellogg  (K - Get Report), which makes Pringles, said in an email to TheStreet that it currently does not produce its uniform looking chips with the assistance of 3-D printing technology.  The cereal and snacks maker declined to comment on whether it could integrate such technology at some point in the future.