Chocolate Printer: Machine prints 3D objects

By Posted 9 Jul 2011, 14:24

A couple of days ago it was World Chocolate Day, but thanks to British scientists chocolate lovers around the world may be able to one day buy their perfect device. They have come up with a chocolate printer, which is a machine that prints 3D objects.

University of Exeter scientists will be the toast of chocolate lovers everywhere with this creation, which you can see a video of below. According to an article on the BBC the printer is still a prototype, but several retailers are interested in taking on the device in the future. The 3D printer uses layers of chocolate instead of ink.

This type of printing is already widely used with plastic and metal, and is said to speed up design work. It starts like any other 3D printing method with a flat cross-section image, similar to conventional printers creating images.

Then a 3D shape is created layer by layer using chocolate instead of ink, similar to layering 2D paper to create a 3D shape. After a layer is finished it goes solid so the printer then moves to the next layer. In 2010 researchers from Cornell University in the US made an effort to create a food printer, using liquefied foods in place of inks.

Dr Richard Hague from Loughborough University said the creation by the team from Exeter is a leap forward towards creating a device which will be capable of printing perfect 3D objects which will taste nice. Keeping the temperature at the right levels is crucial in getting the printing process right.

Once the prototype is tweaked and perfected it could find itself a role in the restaurant and food industry. With the fact it uses chocolate will make it appealing to a lot of people, and users will create an object on their computer before hitting the print button.

The team wants to take the device further and into cyberspace and create a chocolate oriented website. People could share their creations on a social network with the options for it endless. Users could create things ideal for birthdays and other special occasions, and then just go down to a store and pick up their own personalized creation which just happens to be made from chocolate.

Companies such as online gift retailer findmeagift.co.uk. Have expressed an interest in the idea, and Joanna Grant from the company said “Obviously, it’s chocolate, so it is hugely appealing”.

Do you like the idea of a chocolate printer?