To some, it may seem like a dumb question, but it’s not so unreasonable. Chocolate can be melted, shaped, and then hardened, which is really the basics of 3D printing. It is possible to 3D print chocolate, there are some caveats though. For one thing, you’ll need a dedicated machine. Not only do you not want to contaminate the chocolate you print with any remnants of filaments but the process is slightly different too.
3D printing with chocolate
Chocolate can’t be turned into a spool of filament-like FDM plastics. This means that it can’t be extruded. Instead, the chocolate is inserted into a cartridge and then extruded with a syringe. The hot end doesn’t need to be anywhere near as hot as it normally is for FDM 3D printing as chocolate melts at very low temperatures. The main difficulty is getting it to harden again which is generally done by printing at a low ambient temperature.
Technically the class of printer needed to print chocolate is a thick paste printer. These are designed to handle pastes rather than filaments and use a wider nozzle. These paste printers can be used to print cookie dough, icing, and even meat. As long as it can be made into a paste with the right consistency, it can be printed. Being a thick paste, you can’t get the same resolution as you would with normal 3D printing. You can still make the same cool and interesting shapes though.
One concern that’s important to take not of though is that the resulting chocolate may not be edible. While there aren’t many 3D printers around that can print chocolate, at least one – the ZMorph VX Full Set – warns that items printed with the thick paste extruder are not certified as edible. This is more of a concern for multi-function printers than it is for dedicated chocolate or food printers. You really don’t want your food to be contaminated with some of the chemicals that make up standard filaments.
3D printing chocolate is possible but the results may not be as edible as you would like. Have you made any 3D printed chocolate? Let us know how it went, and how it tasted, down below.