Need an afternoon chocolate break? Turn on the CocoJet 3-D printer and make a Hershey bar. Well someday in the future, that is.
For now, chocolate fans will have to go to Hershey headquarters in Pennsylvania for a sweet 3-D fix. In May, the confectioner plans to install a permanent 3-D chocolate printer exhibit at its Chocolate World attraction, where consumers can order their own likenesses and other custom shapes. The CocoJet printers were first showcased at Chocolate World in December, then at CES in Las Vegas earlier this month.
Hershey built the printers in collaboration with one of the largest and oldest 3D printing companies, 3D Systems. Just six months into testing, the team is on the fourth iteration of the printer and a similar number of chocolate recipes. The process can take from a few minutes to an hour or more depending on the complexity of the design.
For now, 3-D printing at Hershey means consumers can commission a custom, edible wedding cake topper or greeting card. But the future could bring other uses.“3-D printing gives consumers nearly endless possibilities for personalizing their chocolate, and our exhibit will be their first chance to see 3-D chocolate candy printing in action.”
Visitors of the exhibit can interact with a library of 3-D graphics pre-loaded on iPads and see what they would look like as a piece of 3-D chocolate.
Whether 3-D printing in the food industry means revolutionary changes or simply additional and easier ways to customize and manufacture, 3-D printing of food is on the rise. Gartner estimates the 3-D printer market, of which food is still just a small part, to reach $6.9 billion in sales by 2018, up from $789 million this year.
Source: Hershey’s 3D Printed Chocolates