We had a chance to speak with Christina Zheng, Business Development Director for ChocEdge. It's one of the very few personal 3D printers capable of extruding chocolate, and perhaps the only one you can easily buy yourself.
The ChocEdge looks much like many other personal 3D printers, until you notice the extruder. It's basically a syringe, which is filled with a carefully heated liquid mixture of chocolate. The device then moves the extruder and squirts the liquid chocolate in a typically additive manufacturing manner to create unique chocolate shapes.
All ChocEdge components that come in contact with the liquid chocolate are food safe. This means that you can actually eat the output of this amazing machine.
However, unlike other personal 3D printers, the ChocEdge has to deal with several different issues:
- Chocolate is pretty fragile. You can't build tall, complex structures due to "slump". Don't even think about severe overhangs. The maximum height we observed was about 20 layers (seen above)
- The syringe capacity is 10-30ml, meaning you don't have a lot of chocolate to work with
- The chocolate is tempered to precisely +31.5C for perfect taste and texture, but the syringe slowly loses temperature. Printing should take place immediately
Aside from these unique chocolate-issues, the ChocEdge suffers the same problem that all personal 3D printers have: printing takes a lot of time. As a result, they are focusing their marketing not at residential kitchens, but instead cake shoppes, commercial kitchens and similar operations where the machine's characteristics will fit better.
While we observed chocolate printing onto waxed paper, a very common use pattern is to 3D print the chocolate directly onto cake or cookies. This video shows the machine in operation.
Zheng says they're now focusing on completing the machine to ensure its reliability and functionality. It priced at £2,088 (USD$3,360).