If you're a big chocoholic, you might have dreamed of swimming in a sea of chocolate, or at least having a never ending supply. While neither of those are likely to happen, the University of Exeter has created something just as cool: a 3D printer that prints with chocolate.
The University created the printer for the retail and manufacturing market, to help give a consumer boost -- the printer would allow customers to design and 'print' their own chocolatey creation for themselves or someone else. According to the University, this is the first time 3D rendering has ever been applied to chocolate.
Dr Liang Hao, the research leader behind the project, believes that the printer is both low-cost to run and is non-hazardous too. We believe it sounds delicious.
It may be a first, but it wasn't easy to create, due to the consistency of chocolate. Researchers needed to get the temperature and cooling cycles just right in order to make a print out that wasn't just a yummy chocolate mess. Fortunately, specially made instruments were formed just for the printer, to avoid the chocolate being too hard to mould. Although, any mess is sure to be eaten anyway...
With the help of software developer Delcam, Dr Hao and his team are currently working on an easy-to-use designing program for customers to use when building their chocolate, as well as a website where designs could be uploaded and shared. The project was managed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and was created in collaboration with Brunel University.
While this printer is certainly mouthwatering, Hao is hoping that the technique of customers designing their own products and then having them printed will catch on in more than just the treat market. Would you like to be able to create your own items more online? Tell us in the comments.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need a snack.