Is Personalized Chocolate the Wave of the Future?

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Create Anything out of Chocolate

 

Researchers at Exeter University’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Science have figured out how to print three-dimensional chocolate. Why chocolate?  Dr. Liang Hao and Professor Richard Everson said they chose to work with sweet treat because it is readily available, low-cost and non-hazardous.  It also has fewer consequences when making mistakes–any unused or spoiled material can be eaten!  But there is also a big challenge when working with the sugary substance. Chocolate is more fickle than substances used in other 3D printing projects as I must be tempered (heated and cooled with precision) in order to achieve a good outcome.

 

How it Works

Research leader Dr Liang Hao said, “Users will be able to design and make their own products. In the long-term it could be developed to help individuals custom-design many products from different materials.  From reproducing the shape of a child’s favorite toy to a friend’s face, the possibilities are endless and only limited by our creativity.”

 The two innovators stressed the importance of learning the manufacturing techniques and science behind the project. The choice in medium was to create a fun way to learn about the process. Through “co-creation” users will be engaged from 3D modeling all the way to the printing process. The goal for the chocolate printer is to allow consumers to construct their own experience. Eventually, the creators would like to see the 3D printers enter the mainstream market.

This isn’t the first example of 3D printing. The technology has been used to print everything from prosthetic limbs to jewelry using metals and plastics. Doctors at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in North Carolina have even printed bladders for their patients using tissue samples.

EPSRC Chief Executive Professor Dave Delpy 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.”

photos courtesy of David Martin

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