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Chocolate

The 3-D Chocolate Printer: No Longer Just Pure Imagination

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Fri, Apr 27, 2012 at 7:00 AM

click to enlarge Compartes truffles - GUZZLE & NOSH/FLICKR
First robots that can build sushi rolls, now machines that can print in chocolate: According to Fast Company, United Kingdom company Choc Edge is now accepting pre-orders for the "world's first commercial 3-D chocolate printer." For the discounted price of £2,488 (about $4,000, or 47 boxes of 40-piece truffles at Compartes), you'll receive the Choc Creator Version 1, which will print almost any object you desire using melted chocolate instead of ink, no special moldings or castings required.

Three-dimensional printing has been around for a few years; doctors recently used a 3-D printer to "print" a prosthetic jaw, for instance, and MakerBot sells a home version that prints all sorts of objects with a durable plastic instead of ink. This naturally has compelled some researchers to experiment with printing food like "domes of turkey" and corn chips; most of those printers, however, are still stuck in the test kitchen. With its desktop Choc Creator, Choc Edge hopes to capture the attention of "creative users who love to experience new technologies, exploit broad technical settings and boundaries of the printer, and having a lot of fun with their creations." And don't mind dropping a few thousand bucks for the pleasure.

To use the Choc Creator as your personal chocolate factory, you first load a three-dimensional design -- say, a simple truffle-sized cube, or the Stanley Cup -- into the system. With melted and tempered chocolate in the syringe, the printer will print the object, layer by layer, not unlike frosting a cake. Before you know it, you have a cat-sized model of your cat, in chocolate, that you and your cat can admire. Or, as Choc Edge says on its website, "The possibilities are endless!"

The printer currently is not food grade-certified (it expects to receive its certification within the next three to six months), so until it can officially be the next generation's Easy-Bake Oven, Choc Edge suggests that you use the printer for "demonstration chocolates and making creative and artistic displaying objects only." But, because that essentially defeats the purpose of owning a printer that prints in chocolate, the head of the team that developed the Choc Creator assures Fast Company that he would eat the printed chocolate so long as proper processes were followed.

As part of its launch, Choc Edge also is auctioning off 10 of its Choc Creators on eBay, which gives you a chance to potentially snag the printer at a price lower than its retail cost. Choc Edge will give auction winners 1 percent of the gross sales made from all Choc Creators sold during its first year, which is sort of a reward for being early adopters of the technology. The first printer recently sold for about $3,000, and another Choc Creator is now listed on eBay. Its current price is $410.88, with six days left to bid.

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