Printing Your Own Chocolate

Printing Your Own Chocolate

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 By Kate Marchant

 

3d-chocolate-printing

3D printers are currently used in several industries including engineering, jewellery making and architecture. But now, 3D printers can print chocolate!

The Choc Creator 1 was designed and built by Choc Edge last year, but only became available to the public this week. There were several issues originally that have now been tweaked, one of which was temperature. As chocolate is very sensitive to temperature, the researchers spent a lot of time ensuring the heating, flow rate and cooling processes were correct. To make sure the temperature is always accurate, the printer now has a new temperature and heating control system. Dr Liang Hao, the founder of Choc Edge and a researcher from the University of Exeter, explained that they’ve also “improved and simplified he machine, so now it is really easy to use.”

The printer works in a similar way to any other printer, by layering materials to build up a 3D shape. Users can design their 3D image on a computer and the printer will use this layering technique to print a huge variety of designs. The product page says, “Choc Creator utilizes an easy-to-use syringe based chocolate deposition head which allows users to rapidly install and remove syringe head units. The design enables users to refill syringes with fresh chocolate or different chocolates conveniently.”

There are many different aspects of 3D chocolate printing that could be very exciting for chocolatiers. For example, customers could design their own chocolates and have them printed, or they could host competitions in which the public can design chocolates and see their designs in stores.

Discussing the commercial potential of his creation, Dr Hao said, “What makes this technology special is that users will be able to design and make their own products. From reproducing the shape of a child’s favourite toy to a friend’s face, the possibilities are endless. It could be developed to help consumers custom-design many products from different materials, but we’ve started with chocolate as it is readily available, low cost and non-hazardous. There is also no wastage as any spoilage can be eaten. Eventually we may see many mass-produced products replaced by unique designs created by the customer.”

Dave Delpy, Chief Executive Professor of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) said, “This is an imaginative application of two developing technologies and a good example of how creative research can be applied to create new manufacturing and retail ideas. By combining developments in engineering with the commercial potential of the digital economy we can see a glimpse into the future of new markets - creating new jobs and, in this case, sweet business opportunities.”

The printer just been released for sale and the first ten printers are being auctioned on eBay. The buyer of the first printer sold will be rewarded with 2% of the company’s income (gross sales) of all Choc Creator 1 printers sold during the first year, will have easy access of support from the directors of Choc Edge and will be invited to participate in high profile publicity and user events. The subsequent 90 printers can be pre-ordered at a discounted price of £2,488, and the remaining printers will be sold for £2,888. High-street chocolatier Thorntons have already expressed interest in the printer among other confectioners.

To get bidding on this sweet treat, visit the Choc Edge website at http://www.chocedge.com/ and follow the link to their eBay page, or pre-order the Choc Creator 1 through their website.

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