With all the stories popping up about 3D printers, you’ve likely thought the new technology couldn’t get much cooler. One thing you probably weren’t considering is if it could get any more delicious. In a world first, UK-based company Choc Edge has answered those unthought questions with the development of a 3D printer that creates chocolate treats of any imaginable shape.
The chocolate printer works as many standard 3D printers do, reading three-dimensional blueprints from a computer that have either been scanned or created within an imaging program. It takes the blueprint information and creates a chocolate sculpture on a moving platform layer by layer.
The technology began at the University of Exeter in the form of a Masters student project in 2007. The project was led by Dr. Liang Hao, a professor of manufacturing and engineering, who chose chocolate as the initial creative substance because “it is readily available, low cost, and non-hazardous.” In 2011 Hao’s newly formed company, Choc Edge, was awarded funding by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
[youtube id="BIFi8but3Vw" width="600" height="350"]
In the video above, fellow Professor Richard Everson points out the advantages of chocolate as an introductory medium to 3D printing. “Chocolate is a very easy place to explore how [co-creation] might happen. Chocolate’s not a safety critical system in any way. We wouldn’t want people designing airplanes online… If it goes horribly wrong then all you have is a mess of chocolate.”
Its creator hopes chocolate will be a good way to send out the message of 3D printing technology. Hao believes the chocolate medium will inspire a wider audience to get involved with 3D printing in all types of materials, and additionally grab the attention of engineering students who will shape the exciting technology into the future.
Choc Edge first tested its chocolate printer only a few weeks ago, and this month launched a website showcasing its new product. Currently the chocolate printer is only available through online auction or pre-order at the discounted pre-sale price of about $4,000.
I’m thinking about ordering a few to give the tree full of Keebler elves in my backyard a nice break.