Oct 3, 2018

Chocolate 3D Printer – All You Need to Know

Ever wondered whether it was possible to 3D print chocolate? Spoiler alert: It is! If you want to make some of these delightful delicacies yourself, or if you want to know more about a chocolate 3D printer works, read on.

Benefits of Chocolate 3D Printing

A chocolate 3D printed by Hershey. Source: TechCrunch / YouTube

Chocolate 3D printing hasn’t been around for very long and belongs to a very niche part of the 3D printing world. That doesn’t stop it from advancing chocolatiers’ horizons, though.

Normal chocolate bars are made by pouring melted chocolate into molds and letting them cool into a solid. This really limits the kinds of shapes you can achieve, since creating the chocolate mold is no easy task. With a chocolate 3D printer, however, you can print some pretty crazy chocolate shapes, which would not be possible with a traditional mold.

Though not well-suited for mass production of chocolates, a chocolate 3D printer is ideal for those who want to customize, experiment, or just have fun with the art of chocolate-making.

How Chocolate 3D Printing Works

Chocolate 3D printing in action. Source: Hershey

Generally speaking, a chocolate 3D printer works much like your conventional FDM printer. An extruder head moves around the bed and lays down the molten chocolate in the desired shape in layers, which eventually cools into the final solid product. 

Most chocolate 3D printers can work with the same kind of CAD files as a normal 3D printer, once converted to machine code. That means you could create or download a model with a familiar program and print it in chocolate! 3D scans of real-world objects can also be printed in chocolate.

Chocolate vs Plastic 3D Printing

Too good to eat... Source: Sculpteo

There are fundamental differences that make it much harder to print in chocolate than plastic. Melted chocolate doesn’t harden as easily at room temperature, which makes it liable to lose its shape due to gravity or other disturbances. 

Also, chocolate can’t be wound into a hard filament and is too soft to extrude with a gear and motor. Instead, melted chocolate is stored in a cartridge and extruded with a syringe. This means the 3D printer must keep heating the chocolate so it is easily extrudable.

Another thing to consider is what kind of chocolate to print with. Dark, white, and milk chocolate all have different viscosities and properties which affect the way it extrudes, sticks together, and cools. The ideal blend of chocolate for each printer requires a great deal of investigation and experimentation.

Chocolate 3D Printer #1: byFlow Focus

The byFlow Focus with its compact case. Source: byFlow

The byFlow Focus is one of the most refined (and expensive) food 3D printers on the market. Packaged in a sleek, portable case, the Focus can print not only in chocolate but in any paste-like substance you can put in its syringe. The company has a list of tried-and-tested recipes, ranging from chocolate ganache to cookie dough to, surprisingly, meat!

At a price tag of $4,599 this printer is quite a hefty investment, but likely well worth the price. It comes with 10 extra cartridges, 4 nozzles, and pre-loaded designs with which to begin. The Focus can print surprisingly fast in good quality, with most prints in their library taking only 2 to 15 minutes.

So what are you waiting for? Check out their collection of designs printed with the Focus to get inspired.

Chocolate 3D Printer #2: Procusini 3.0

The Procusini 3.0 printing custom text onto chocolate. Source: Procusini

This Germany-based company offers a very similar package at the more affordable price of about $2,250 per printer. Touted as a “universal plug and play printing solution”, the Procusini 3.0 prints in pasta, marzipan, fondant, and of course chocolate. Technically speaking, there’s no limit to what it can print, as you can load your own mixtures into the printer to print with — just makes ure they are the right consistencies!

What makes this chocolate 3D printer special is that you can buy it with dual extruders. With double the nozzles, batches of objects can be printed twice as fast. It also allows for more innovative food creations, as you can match different colors and materials.

Everyone who buys a Procusini also gets access to several apps and videos to help you get started and design your own food prints, even for absolute beginners.

Chocolate 3D Printer #3: ZMorph VX

ZMorph's thick paste extruder printing a pattern onto some cake. Source: ZMorph

You may have heard of the ZMorph as the all-in-one 3D printer, CNC mill, and laser cutter, but did you know you can print chocolate with it? 

The ZMorph VX Full Set ($4,399) comes with 5 different extruders/toolheads: single, dual, CNC, laser cutting, and thick paste extruder. And yes, the thick paste extruder can print not only chocolate but any similar substance as well, such as icing or cookie dough. 

On the website, it’s specified that objects printed with the thick paste extruder are not certified as eatable, so it may be best to take caution, especially when switching toolheads. Also, this printer is best for printing flatter chocolate patterns that aren’t too tall.

Despite its limitations, the ZMorph is definitely unique. For its relatively low price, it’s amazing how many different things you can do all on one machine.

License: The text of "Chocolate 3D Printer – All You Need to Know" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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