A mass-produced 3D printed chocolate operation is incredible, but is it really 3D printing?
The video in question is sourced from Fouche Chocolates, via 3Digital Cooks. In the several videos we can see their production machines creating intricate – and likely delicious – chocolate structures suited for cake toppings or simply to eat.
We’ve seen chocolate printing previously, but never on a mass production scale such as this.
Chocolate, if you treat it as a material for building rather than a food, has some rather awful properties. It requires very stringent temperature control during printing for not only structural strength, but also for taste. Even when printed, chocolate objects are not very strong, and they tend to deform if exposed to even moderate heat.
Finally, chocolate is just not a strong material, meaning it cannot truly be printed easily in 3D. If you pile up enough of any material, the bottom will be unable to support the material above it, and in the case of chocolate, it doesn’t take much. Chocolate extrusions we’ve seen have been severely limited in height, with only a few coarse layers possible.
For this reason many chocolate printers (or similarly weak food-paste extruding devices) often resort to printing a single layer. This may be a set of words, a logo or other design, as we saw above in XYZ Printing’s prototype food printer.
Those prints are terrific for various uses, and they’re certainly printed.
But are they 3D printed? We think not. There is no third dimension.
Perhaps more research could reveal practical ways of printing larger structures with weak extruded materials, but until then these results can’t truly be called 3D printed.