by Debbie Clarke
Researchers led by the University of Exeter are developing a 3D printer with a difference….it prints in Chocolate! A prototype has been developed which works similarly to the standard 3D printing technique. Starting with a cross section image of an object and then printing layer by layer to create the completed three dimentional shape. For this prototype however great consideration has had to go in to incorporating heating and cooling cycles to accuratley work with such a temperamental material.
Although the idea that it could one day be possible to have a chocolate factory in your own home is an impressive one, the long term developement of this process is even more so. Research lead at the University of Exeter Dr Liang Hao was quoted ti have said: “In the long term it could be developed to help consumers custom- design many products from different materials but we’ve started with chocolate as it is readily available, low cost and non-hazardous. There is also no wastage as any unused or spoiled material can be eaten of course!”
It is possible therefore that in the future we could be printing far more than just photographs and personlised chocolate from our desktop pcs. This idea calls into question the future of commercial production as a whole, it could be interesting to see just how much we will one day be producing from our own homes……