The amazing technology of 3D printing just found a fantastic way to appeal to our sweet tooths. Researchers at the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) have employed their 3D printers to design custom printed chocolates. Funded by the Research Council UK Cross-Research Council Programme – Digital Economy (that sure if a mouthful), the experiments are taking place at the University of Exeter. The goal of the effort is to revolutionize the online retail business, where customers can upload designs of their own creation and order chocolates in any shape they wish!
3D printing technology has revolutionized the manufacturing industry, allowing plastic and metal products to be easily produced. Using a process that creates the product by building up layer upon layer of material, the research team, led by Dr. Liang Hao, chose to experiment with chocolate. Being inexpensive, easily malleable and not to mention, delicious, chocolate was perfect to play with, as it yields no waste (excess can be melted down or eaten!) The tricky part is the accuracy of heating and cooling, which can turn solid chocolate into a molten mess in seconds, but the research has developed heating and cooling systems.
Dr. Hao anticipates that after perfecting the chocolate printing process, other materials can be employed, allowing consumers to create and print their own products, such as jewelry or household goods, allowing for creativity and unique designs to dominate over mass-produced products.