In 2013, visual effects specialist Brian Began, who managed to work on the film "Star Trek: Retribution" during his career, founded his own company to print beautiful chocolate figures on a 3D printer. Such technology is now used in many companies to make chocolate products. For use on 3D printers, however, chocolate must first be heated to a temperature of 31 to 36 degrees Celsius. Fortunately, confectioners will soon be able to print complex-shaped candies at room temperature. And all thanks to the fact that scientists from Singapore have succeeded in developing chocolate inks that are suitable for use on 3D printers without heat treatment.
The new chocolate composition for 3D printers was described on the pages of the journal Nature. Researchers at the Singapore University of Technology have set themselves the task of changing the composition of chocolate so that it becomes viscous even at room temperature and has the properties of standard inks for three-dimensional printing without preheating. To this end, a group of scientists led by Professors Rahul Karjappa and Mitinao Hashimoto mixed various pastes and syrups with cocoa powder. In the end, they achieved what they wanted and created a chocolate mixture that remains semi-fluid even at room temperature.
Can I print candy on a 3D printer?
Chocolate inks for 3D printers are referred to as chocolate ink 3D printing (Ci3DP). According to the researchers, the resulting mass turned out to be pasty and ideally suited for so-called cold extrusion. In general, this technology was invented as early as 1797 and is used to manufacture various plastic and rubber items, as well as foods such as pasta, noodles, and corn sticks. The essence of the technology is that a viscous mass is poured into a device called an extruder and pressed out under high pressure through a molding hole. Basically, modern 3D printers work similarly.
However, it is worth understanding the difference between hot and cold extrusion. In the past, chocolate had to be preheated to print 3D candy because it simply cured at room temperature. Thanks to the development of the Ci3DP chocolate ink, however, the printing material no longer needs to be heated – it is viscous at room temperature and hardens when the print is exposed to lower temperatures.
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To prove the suitability of the chocolate ink for printing confectionery on a 3D printer, scientists shared photos of the desserts they made. The pictures show that they have really complex shapes and are decorated with small details. It must be that only confectioners with extensive experience can make such beauty manually, and the process will obviously take a long time. The scientists didn't say how many minutes it took to print a chocolate treat, but they mentioned that some desserts have a liquid filling.