Tech of the Week: 3D printer for those who fancy building some chocolate snowmen

Having built the world’s first commercially available chocolate 3D printer, Choc Edge is back with its updated model: the Choc Creator V2. From intricate 2D snowflakes to edible 3D high-heels, the brain child of Exeter University’s Dr Liang Hao could be making your Christmas a little bit sweeter.

Forget using 3D printing to produce works of art or prototyping a proof-of-concept – it’s completely not what science invented 3D printing for. Or at least, it shouldn’t be. Using chocolate as the printing material, on the other hand, is something that had the unanimous vote of the Idealog office when it came to picking this week’s Tech of the Week.

It’s the second version of the Choc Creator, a chocolate 3D printer designed by Dr Liang Hao, an engineering lecturer at the University of Exeter. His company, Choc Edge, had produced the original chocolate printing system back in 2012 to critical acclaim from 3D printing enthusiasts, science nerds, and chocolate connoisseurs.

The machine works by having tempered chocolate manually fed into the machine, which is in effect a giant syringe. Controlled by a PC or laptop equipped with open-source 3D printing design software, the 3D printer creates layers to produce a finished product through a process called Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM).

The technology surrounding the original machine wasn’t new, nor was the process, but what was new was the fact that Dr Hao’s company has been able to turn chocolate 3D printing in to a commercially available product for small-to-medium businesses.

In an interview with Time magazine, Dr Hao says, “what makes this technology special is that users will be able to design and make their own products”. It’s also convenient as any unused or spoiled materials can be eaten, creating practically zero wastage.

As for the Choc Creator V2, improvements have been made to the syringe – not only is the syringe larger than the V1, but it’s also heated. It means the chocolate won’t become solidified within the syringe, and more complex designs can be printed.

While it’s slightly on the pricier side for personal use with a price tag of GBP£3,888 (NZ$7,867), it has potential for in-house designs for local chocolate and cake makers. While the Choc Creator V2 is not intended to disrupt or compete with mass production methods, Dr Hao says, he does believe the next 3 to 5 years could potentially see an industrial grade version of the printer.

You can bag your very own Choc Creator V2 here.