At CES, 3D Systems announced that it was entering the 3D printed food market with the ChefJet and ChefJet Pro 3D printers. After that, it announced that it was working with Nestle to develop and sell 3D printed chocolates and other confections. The technology and partnerships on display are worth millions of dollars, but one inventor proved that you can make your own 3D chocolate printer using an open source 3D printer and some off-the-shelf parts.
Jonathan Keep, a UK-based artist, has recently been experimenting with 3D printers. He recently dabbled in 3D printed chocolate and managed to create some amazing chocolate designs by rigging together a 3D printer with a compressed air system that was built out of a soda bottle, a syringe and bicycle pump.
Here's how that homemade compressed air system works:
Predicting that liquid chocolate would not need much pressure to extrude I abandoned my normal studio air compressor and cobbled together a fizzy drinks bottle compressed air system. I believe a fizzy drinks bottle can withstand up to 6 Bar of pressure so with my bicycle pump and only pressurizing the system to 1 Bar it was not stressing too much. The pressure needed to extrude the chocolate as I turned up the regulator did not register on the pressure gage so I cannot say what it was but the rate of flow was controllable. One priming of the fizz bottle with the bicycle pump was enough pressure for a syringe of chocolate. I began printing onto cling film, then gloss card, on top of a ceramic tile that I had put into the deepfreeze. This was to help re-solidify the chocolate as it printed.
For more info, here's a video that details how Keep made the 3D chocolate printer:
The ChefJet and ChefJet Pro will be great for professional applications in bakeries and pâtisseries. For the amateur baker, you might want to try out what Keep did here. It shouldn't be all that hard to set up.
Image via Jonathan Keep/YouTube