The developers of the printer see it being owned by candy-making companies. Customers would submit their designs via a web interface (which is currently in development), then the company would print out the chocolates and deliver them. Less imaginative users could also view existing designs, and copy or modify them.
Like most 3D printers, the device works by depositing successive layers of the building material. Chocolate presented a challenge, however, as it requires precise heating and cooling cycles. The Exeter team therefore had to create new temperature and heating control systems, in order to keep the chocolate liquid enough to work with, yet cool enough that it would set upon deposition.
The University of Exeter is developing the 3D chocolate printer in collaboration with Brunel University and software developer Delcam. The project is funded by the Research Council UK Cross-Research Council Programme - Digital Economy and is managed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
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