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3D Chocolate Printer 91

Posted by samzenpus
from the print-me-off-a-candy-bar dept.
BoxRec writes "Scientists in England have developed a 3D chocolate printer that prints layers of chocolate instead of ink or plastic. 'Now we have an opportunity to combine chocolate with digital technology, including the design, digital manufacturing and social networking. Chocolate has a lot of social purpose, so our intention is to develop a community and share the designs, ideas and experience about it,' says lead scientist Dr Liang Hao."
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3D Chocolate Printer

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  • by sortius_nod (1080919) on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @09:26AM (#36671178) Homepage

    now I have to hide this from the fiancee!

  • Been done before. http://shopriffraff.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]
  • Can't wait til we get this here in the States, because if there's one thing we need in this country, it's more chocolate products...
    • by KiloByte (825081)

      in the States, because if there's one thing we need in this country, it's more chocolate products

      Yes you do, the last time I was there, chocolate one takes at random from the shelf is completely unedible. The brand I've seen to be most popular, "Hershey", is the worst of it all. And looking at the ingredients, I see that in Europe that junk would be hard pressed to qualify as "chocolate-like".

      I guess that you might have real chocolate somewhere in an obscure stand in a corner, like that mythical "drinkable American beer" people keep mentioning here on Slashdot -- my sampling was just a few random pie

      • by vlm (69642)

        I see that in Europe that junk would be hard pressed to qualify as "chocolate-like".

        You cannot buy American chocolate in Europe because it is literally illegal due to not meeting standards.

        European chocolate is "real" chocolate.

        American chocolate is brown food coloring, crisco, and corn syrup for sweetness. If its sweet and brown its called "chocolate"

        You can buy "real chocolate bars" in the US, its just they're called "gourmet" and cost about $4 per bar instead of the $1 bar of Hershey's Crisco.

        (Don't know if you have Crisco in europe, its a generic veg oil that is hydrogenated into a ro

        • by Anonymous Coward

          If its sweet and brown its called "chocolate"

          No; if it's sweet and brown, it's called Kelly Rowland. If it's sweet and brown and edible it's called chocolate.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Well *I* would eat her out any day.

        • European chocolate is "real" chocolate.

          not all European chocolate is "real" chocolate... we have some of that crappy vegelate as it is derisively named made here in England, the standards were fought over quite vociferously and in the end it meets them through a "loophole" in the regulations [europa.eu]

          (13) The derogation provided for in Directive 73/241/EEC allowing the United Kingdom and Ireland to authorise the use on their territory of the name "milk chocolate" to designate "milk chocolate with high milk content"

      • I personally don't like chocolate, so I can't vouch for that but to imply that for some reason European beer is any better or worse is asinine nationalistic bullshit.

        Yeah, we've got swill like Bud Light. I'm sorry (I really am, honestly.) But we've also got Three Floyd's stout selection and Dogfish Head IPAs.

        But to counter that, you've tried to match us in the suckfest that is mainstream beers by putting Champ next to the likes of Chimay or Denison's hefeweizen.
      • by xaxa (988988)

        Most American chocolate contains some soured milk, which includes butyric acid, also found in vomit. There's nothing wrong with that*, but it's certainly not a taste or smell I'd be expecting in chocolate. At work, whenever someone visits a foreign country they bring back a sweet snack food (biscuits, sweets, chocolates). Usually they don't last more than a week, but American chocolate typically gets thrown out after a couple of months. It's presumably an acquired taste.

        * Soured milk in chocolate is nothi

      • by IonOtter (629215)

        Hey, don't be so uppity about the shitty beer we have over here.

        YOU have Strongbow and Buckfast, so that makes us even.

        And the way home brewing is really getting into swing in these parts, we'll be having proper pubs serving genuine, room-temperature ales, lagers, stouts, porters and more.

      • Yes yes, America's Low End Mass produced consumer product is of lower quality the Europe's Mid/Upper range quality products. Everything is better in Europe even the tear gas launched at protesters because your government cannot afford your raise.

  • ...before someone thought to use something other than plastic pellets in their RepRap.....
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Up next, printing with water [reprap.org]!

  • MakerBot Frostruder (Score:5, Informative)

    by wjsteele (255130) on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @09:40AM (#36671300)
    So... they made a Frostruder... which you can buy here: http://store.makerbot.com/toolheads/makerbot-frostruder.html [makerbot.com]

    Bill
    • by owlstead (636356)

      If you can make a real chocolate 3D image with *that* I would be very amazed. Temperature control is everything if you are talking chocolate. I don't see very advanced 3D chocolate letters coming anytime soon.

  • I once added on a hot summer day 100 g of chocolate to my keyboard. bad idea...

  • I recall hearing about a chocolate extruder for http://store.makerbot.com/ [makerbot.com] Thing-O-Matic

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Wouldn't it be simpler to make a chocolate CNC? That way you can make a bunch of squares in the background and just feed them into the fairly quick milling part of the machine. Fewer tubes to clean anyways.

    • by TDyl (862130)
      Yeah, and loads of edible swarf, yummy!
    • by vlm (69642)

      Wouldn't it be simpler to make a chocolate CNC? That way you can make a bunch of squares in the background and just feed them into the fairly quick milling part of the machine. Fewer tubes to clean anyways.

      You would have to freeze it in liquid nitrogen so that it wouldn't smoosh all over. That is how you mill rubber and elastomers in general. No I am not kidding, have not personally done it, but I know people. Get the rubber too cold it'll shatter, its an art form to get it cold enough but not too cold. Rubber machines pretty easily with decent surface finish when properly cooled, but it'll be uneven due to uneven cooling, which probably makes chocolate unusable, because it'll meet dimensional spec but pr

  • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @09:52AM (#36671374)

    Scientists in England have developed a 3D chocolate printer

    The important part is England. Here in the states this is REALLY old stuff. My mother in law worked at a small bakery in the middle of nowhere a decade ago which had similar machines, that not only squirted chocolate and chocolate frosting, but pretty much all colors of the frosting rainbow. The idea is kids birthday cakes with a licensed TV character made out of chocolate pieces and/or frosting. They also made cool frosting flowers etc on an industrial mass produced scale. Now that I think back, there were three machines, a frosting robot that was vaguely ink-jet-ish in operation including a (then new) windows 95 printer driver and had a huge bed (like sheetcake size), a flower robot which ran under a dos menu system with what a machinist would call a small rotary table, and the chocolate lace robot, don't remember its software, that appears to be what ye limeys have finally reproduced. It was customizable, I believe she once mentioned she could print chocolate lace for wedding cakes with the bride's name knitted into the lace, etc. There was another technology that printed colored sugars, essentially edible cotton candy, that could be applied to cakes for 2-D pictures, almost exactly like laser printer toner is ironed on to etchable PCBs. I have no idea if grannie's bakery was considered leading or trailing edge. Grannie was not exactly a computer scientist, but she none the less used the tools quite effectively.

    I haven't talked to her about this stuff in about a decade... Who knows what state of the art in technological cake decoration is like now, probably octopus-like robots with a hundred arms or maybe lasers to carmelize? Maybe realtime taste/smell synthesis while printing, so you can make the frosting rum bottle taste like rum and a frosting whiskey bottle taste like whiskey?

    I guess in England it takes scientists with PHDs to re-implement what little old ladies did in the USA decades ago? Next up, English scientists learn how to cook tasty food just like grannie? Or learn to knit?

    • I bet her machine didn't do 3D frosting (as in create layers of frosting), which is what's news here. Also, her machine did frosting - not hardened chocolate - which is a whole other challenge.

      Of course, as others have pointed out, it has been done before, just not by your grandma.
      • Wouldn't it be sort of hard for a physical object, frosting in this case, to exist in anything less than 3 dimensions? Pretty sure even a thin amount of chocolate frosting would have 3 dimensions.
      • by vlm (69642)

        I bet her machine didn't do 3D frosting (as in create layers of frosting), which is what's news here. Also, her machine did frosting - not hardened chocolate - which is a whole other challenge.

        Of course, as others have pointed out, it has been done before, just not by your grandma.

        It did 3d layers. In general, "the cake is a lie", but not this time. Also I mentioned, they had a large sheetcake printer, but they also had a very 3-d robotic flower maker, which couldn't make anything bigger than, say, a drink coaster, as far as I know all it did was make different flower species, but what amazing little flowers it could make... She could mix her flower frosting color to appropriately match the bridesmaid dresses and the robot made flowers that matched the real world floral arrangemen

    • Are you sure the really important part is not perhaps "3D"?
      I've seen cakes with all kinds of images printed on them, but all in 2D. They were basically just photographs printed with colored sweet stuff. All 3D things like a wedding couple that you find on a wedding cake were pre-made in factories and placed on top.

      -- I'm waiting for a 3D beer printer. Oh, wait, it's called a beer tap.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah but that was using American Chocolate. Not real chocolate.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      to be honest we got bored inventing the TV, Telephone, WWW and the computer, i'd be pretty sure your Grannie's chocolate printer was copied from a similar device we had in Victorian London, saying that as we have the best University in the World, i.e Cambridge, (beats Harvard, Princeton) then i shudder to think what your PHD's are doing if ours are making chocolate

  • As others have noted, this isn't a first. I also noticed that the picture on the BBC site is spelling chocolate as chocalate. Oops.
  • Now if someone could make one of these that used butter they could totally own at state fairs across the country!

  • rain. I'd have chocolate rain! BOOYAA!
  • Now my wife finally has a compelling example of the usefulness of /. articles. What could improve her life more than a 3D chocolate printer?
  • OK.. we've had 3d prototyping printers for a while, changing the medium you're prototyping with isn't 'OMG NEWS!' it's 'oh hai, we twiddled some bits and adjusted
    some temps.. now it can do chocolate too instead of resin!'
    I mean.. MakerBot has been around for 2 years already, and I have demos of industrial Rapid Prototyping machines (a handy working spanner wrench!) for over a decade.

    Am I the only person that says 'OK we made 3d printers.. so now we can print almost anything form 3D so long as someone engine

    • by frisket (149522)
      As someone pointed out above, the 3D is the big deal. This means having a way to solidify the chocolate deposited by one pass before the next pass occurs, otherwise the whole thing becomes one big gloop. I just hope they haven't compromised the quality of the "chocolate" to do this.
  • Oh great now I have to wear 3D glasses while eating my cake too?
  • I could understand the possibility of a commercial company researching this.... because it has potential commercial applications. However, this was done at a university -- an institution of education. How did convince people to give them money to research this? Am I missing something?

    • by frisket (149522)
      I can't imagine a commercial company spending money on this -- otherwise they would already have done it. Maybe the research was funded by a chocolate company, but breakthroughs in research don't always come from company labs in isolation; it takes partnership with academia where you don't have corporate marketing types breathing down your neck shouting "Is it done yet? Is it done yet?" all day long. The idea that corporate research is in some way "better" than that in universities is a delusion much-loved
    • by Cederic (9623)

      Maybe the research was funded by a chocolatier.
      Maybe the complexity of achieving the correct temperature for the chocolate to allow it to be used as a building material, instead of clogging the delivery mechanism or flowing away was a non-trivial problem with applications in multiple fields.
      Maybe the publicity generated will secure funding for the university and/or increase their student intake.
      Maybe the researcher likes chocolate.

      What's wrong with researching this? Sure, Fark's probably subtitled it with "

  • Note the hyphen. A "chocolate printer" would be a printer made out of chocolate. And that would be news, not this.

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      Note the hyphen. A "chocolate printer" would be a printer made out of chocolate. And that would be news, not this.

      If they based their design on the self-replicating RepRap [reprap.org] then they should be able to use it to print out a chocolate chocolate-printer.

  • What I want is a Chocolate Printer that would allow me to "print" any chocolate bar in its database - especially including the ones I grew up with that simply aren't available any longer. Of course it would need cartridges holding other than chocolate for the process.
  • Chocolate has a lot of social purpose

    Things only a scientist would say for $500, Alex.

  • This guy didn't nearly the amount of press but here's the article from 2009. I've seen on print chocolate at a convention / maker faire before too but I don't know who owned it.

    http://builders.reprap.org/2009/03/chocolate-extruder.html [reprap.org]

    It would be interesting if they really did reinvent the wheel instead of copying everything that already exists though. Hopefully they will publish their plans.

  • After building the printer, they fired up their 3D modelling software, loaded the first demo file they found and proceeded to print out a chocolate teapot.

    Perhaps they should have taken the hint?

  • Chocolate Aperture Science Companion Cube... "You ate your companion cube faster than any other test subject on record."

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