Developing a Chocolate Hydro 3D printer

By on March 7, 2018
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Students at Lund University have faced an exciting technological challenge: developing proof-of-concept 3D printers that could print in chocolate fast.
Only after the first chocolate layer solidification the next layer can be printed on top of the first.
Fortunately, they weren’t working completely from scratch, as each team was given a low-cost 101Hero 3D printer to hack.

So one of those teams figured out that printing chocolate on cold water almost instantly solidified the chocolate: the Chocolate Hydro 3D printer was born for it.

The idea behind the chocolate 3D printer is to deposit a first layer of chocolate onto the bottom of a print bed container. Once that first layer is printed, the container is then flooded with cold water (up to the height of the chocolate). The water’s surface tension is meant to keep it from flowing over the chocolate while at the same time cooling the chocolate until it solidifies.
After the water, the second layer can be printed on top of the first layer, before more water is added, and so on and so forth.

The water-raising mechanism also varied from team to team: some relied on ultrasonic sensors to detect the water levels, while others attached wires to the print head that would automatically stop the water pump when they came into contact with water.

“As for all students, there was a steep learning curve in getting familiar with all the digital prototyping technologies they had at their disposal, ranging from CAD to 3D printing, laser and water jet cutting, CNC machining, Arduinos and Raspberry Pi’s, etc,” wrote Product Development professor Olaf Diegel on his blog.

Of course, as a proof-of-concept 3D printer, there are still a few kinks to be worked out, but the students will keep working on the chocolate 3D printing technology to improve layer thickness, accuracy, and more.!

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About Luca Ruggeri

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