3D Printing Chocolate

Jonah Pflaster STEM Jul 08, 2020

Chocolate bars are normally made from a mold: hot melted chocolate is poured into these molds to slowly cool down and solidify. But these molds are not easy to create, and they restrict the shapes and production of the chocolate. So, a new way of creating chocolate has emerged! By using specialized 3D printers, chocolate can now be printed, eliminating the need for the molds which were holding chocolate back from creative shapes. In other words, new shapes and designs can be made with 3D printing!

Challenges of Printing

3D printing chocolate can be a challenge compared to 3D printing plastic. One of the major reasons for this is the time needed for 3D printed chocolate to cool down and solidify. 3D printing chocolate is similar to 3D printing plastic in the way that files are converted into machine code and in the way the chocolate is laid down. But plastic is much simpler because the cooling and shaping of plastic is much easier for 3D printing. Things like the type of chocolate affects how well the chocolate cools down and sticks together. Milk chocolate and white chocolate do not print nearly as well as dark chocolate does. Specifically, Belgian Dark chocolate is the best material for printing.

Production

The majority of 3D printers that print chocolate are not able to mass produce too well. It takes time to print the chocolate and because of this, mass production with 3D printers can be done but is much harder than using molds. At the moment the majority of the printed chocolate is custom and creative creations. If ways are found on how to speed up the cooling process, which is the biggest issue, then chocolate could be printed at much higher rates. But custom creations with chocolate are becoming more common. With sculpting or moldings, a lot of these creations wouldn't be possible.

3D printed teapot, image by Halans, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Prices

Some of the cheapest 3D printers built for printing chocolate are above $2,000, and the better ones are in the $5000 range. Good plastic printers can be found for under $200. The specialized, printable chocolate material is another $30. These specialized printers and material can be found on sites like Amazon for sale to the public.

3D Printer for chocolate, copyright byFlow

Benefits of 3D Printing

3D printing chocolate can give it that hand-made look and feel but is quicker and much easier than hand-made. Molds may be able to mass produce but the shapes are very restricted. Shapes that both were not previously possible by sculptors and molds are being proved wrong.  Maybe the next time you walk into a chocolate shop and smell that good melted chocolate it could be a 3D printer hard at work.

3D printed chocolate; CC BY-SA 4.0

Featured image copyright byFlow

Sources:

https://all3dp.com/2/chocolate-3d-printer-all-you-need-to-know/

https://3dprint.com/236829/benefits-and-limitations-of-3d-printing-chocolate/

https://www.fabbaloo.com/blog/2018/11/22/3d-printing-is-revolutionizing-the-chocolate-industry

https://www.windowscentral.com/best-portable-3d-printers

Jonah Pflaster

Jonah, a junior, is The Current’s STEM editor. He finds his creative process in just getting into a mode and writing nonstop. He plays soccer and video games, and loves to ski!

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