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3D Printed Chocolate Will Soon Be a Thing at Hershey Chocolate World

3D Printed Chocolate Will Soon Be a Thing at Hershey Chocolate World

Hershey’s Chocolate World announced that they would be installing the CocoJet 3D Printer in May

Hershey’s fans will be able to print custom chocolate. Now that’s what we call a sweet deal.

3D-printed food is here to stay. While 3D printing companies are racing to get the first consumer food printers on shelves, you’ll soon be able to experience printed food at Hershey Park. Hershey’s Chocolate World in Pennsylvania announced that it will be installing a CocoJet 3D printer that will be able to print customized chocolate as part of a permanent exhibit this May. Consumers will be able to customize the shapes of their chocolate, and even create sweets made from their own likeness.

According to AdAge, Hershey has been collaborating with 3D Systems on perfecting the technology, and, as of right now, the process for creating the customized, printed chocolates could take between a few minutes and an hour, depending on the complexity of the creation.

"This technology will be fundamental to the way people interact with food in the future," said Jeff Mundt, senior marketing manager of technology at Hershey's innovation center told AdAge."If we don't get on the edge and lead the way to edible food printing, somebody else will do it for us. And we're all about innovation."

The key here, said Mundt, is to get the 3D-printed chocolates to have the classic Hershey taste, which takes months of trial and error to perfect. For now, when the exhibit opens to guests in May, consumers will be able to make a custom, edible greeting card, or a wedding cake topper shaped like a Hershey kiss.

6 Companies Serving Up Delicious 3D Printed Food Innovations

Today, 3D printers can create almost anything the mind can imagine – from movie props and aeroplane parts to organs and entire homes. Talk about an image makeover?! But how do we feel about 3D printed food?

In my previous blog post, How the 3D Printed Food Industry is Growing, I mentioned that our current global food model is unsustainable with the world’s population estimated to reach 9.8 billion by 2050 (United Nations), something needs to change. In fact, experts believe production rates need to increase by 50% before 2050.

The good news is that groundbreaking steps are being taken in the right direction – all thanks to the progressive world of 3D printing. Within this realm, there are already a range of advanced technologies working towards making food production more efficient, increasingly sustainable and undeniably intelligent.

The Origins of 3D Printed Food

The concept of 3D Printed Food got off the ground in 2006, when NASA began researching the technology. In 2013, the agency developed the NASA Advanced Food Program, with a simple mission: to best feed a team of astronauts for longer missions and make the freeze dried food more appealing.

In cooperation with BeeHex, NASA developed the Chef3D, which was able to 3D print a pizza. Since then, several companies have entered this realm, making pasta, sugar, pastry, vegetable mixes, chocolate and much more.

3D Printed Food Benefits

Creative Machines Lab researcher Jonathan Blutinger believes the merits of 3D food printing lie in the simple fact that more innovative products can be created. And the more innovative a product, the more it appeals to the average 2019 consumer.

Source: Jonathan Blutinger, researcher at Creative Machines Lab

In addition, with the help of 3D printing, new tastes can be elaborated and both the health of consumers and the environment can benefit.

Jonathan Blutinger is passionate about the use of 3D food printing in hospitals to ensure meals are adapted to patients’ individual nutritional needs, helping both to speed up recovery times and lead to better health outcomes:

“A seamless integration of medicine into human nutrition could be made more pleasant. This means not only adapting food to nutritional needs, but also integrating individual medications into it,” he explains.

In today’s society, where trends such as veganism, gluten-free and dairy-free are on the rise, 3D printing can respond to these growing trends by ensuring a meal has a precise set of ingredients.

Lynette Kucsma, CEO and co-founder of Natural Machines (manufacturer of Foodini 3D food printer) believes 3D printed food has the potential to change the food market landscape in an unprecedented way.

“People will again be more interested in what they eat,” she explains. She herself has a Foodini at home and says her children find it fascinating.

In addition, for the health conscious, there is the potential to coordinate your wearable devices to a 3D printer. Calorie information can be transferred from fitness trackers to 3D printers to create a customised meal that keeps your diet on track.

3. Increased sustainability

Global sustainability is becoming a priority for us all, and while the 3D food printing industry won’t eradicate all the current issues surrounding unsustainable international food production practices, it can certainly help.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT’s) Tangible Media Group have transferred the modern ethos of flat-packing to food production. They predict that their pioneering creation could help reduce food-shipping costs, whilst saving distributors and consumers valuable time and money. It could also mean that more food can get to the people who need it most.

Founder and director of the AgeLab at MIT, Joseph F. Coughlin, believes 3D printing could reduce fuel use and emissions. Grocery stores of the future could potentially stock “food cartridges” he said.

These would then last for years instead of the plethora of perishable ingredients currently available, freeing up shelf space and reducing transportation and storage requirements.

Who is Doing 3D Food Printing Right

There is a lot going on in the 3D printed food world right now. High-end commercial kitchens, top pastry chefs and state-of-the-art food companies have gradually been adding 3D food printers to their culinary equipment collections.

Moreover, the modern generation of 3D food printers are more complex than ever before, utilizing nozzles, powdery material, lasers and robotic arms to make sugar sculptures, intricately patterned chocolate and latticed pastry.

Below, I summarize a few of my favorites innovations:

  • Barilla: The Italian food company, uses a 3D printing machine to make pasta using a simple mixture of water and semolina.
  • Chefjet: A 3D food printer that crystalizes thin layers of fine-grain sugar into various geometric configurations.
  • ByFlow: It’s chief product, the Focus 3D Food Printer, is a portable 3D food printing machine that costs around $4,380. The company plans to expand into the airline meal world and focus on selling printers to schools to educate the chefs of tomorrow.
  • Dinara Kasko 3D pastry printing: Ukrainian pastry chef Kasko uses 3D technologies to design her own unique plastic molds rather than for the food itself, allowing her to create increasingly extravagant shapes.
  • CocoJet: 3D Systems has tackled the food 3D printing market by developing its own 3D chocolate printer, the CocoJet. The additive manufacturing giant worked with US confectioners Hershey, who supplied the chocolate printing material. Ideal for cooks or chocolatiers who would like to create unique chocolate creations with a more complex design.
  • Foodini: Natural Machines’ primary goal was to explore quality and food safe 3D printing. The Foodini has different types of nozzles that allow you to print with almost any food material possible including pizza, quiche, chocolate or hummus. In addition, the startup shares recipes and examples of how to use the machine.

Food for Thought

There’s no doubt about it — 3D food printing has come a long way in recent years. Campden BRI recently began a research project to assess and evaluate how 3D-printing applications could benefit the food industry, which will be an interesting one to watch.

While 3D food printing is a great idea in complex or mass cooking scenarios, time will ultimately tell if it’s here to stay for everyday use. For instance, home users will be responsible to source and purchase all the food components before inputting them into the machine.

One thing I am certain about is that applying 3D food printing technology to the food sector is complex and like most innovative developments, it will take time to gain momentum on a quotidian culinary landscape.

Indeed, there are many complex factors to consider, including:

  • Shelf-life
  • Microbiological contamination
  • Printing temperature
  • Textures
  • Rheology

People will also have to consider whether different foods are appropriate for printing. However, the fact that 3D-printing may have benefits for reducing process development and new product development times, cutting down food waste, improving the nutritional value of meals and even solving hunger in certain parts of the world where fresh and affordable ingredients are inaccessible, makes it a potentially significant historical innovation.

3D-Printed Chocolate: Gimmick or Godsend?

Recently I've become totally obsessed with all of people's attempts to 3D-print chocolate. It seems so illogical and yet inevitable at the same time, and I can't look away.

Hershey's is working on the technology, and I interviewed a guy a while back who is building a MakerBot-style chocolate printer too. There are a slew of people making one-off pieces this way too. Some claim that it's really easy to work with chocolate this way, but given what I know about chocolate's temperamental viscosity and general crabbiness, I find that hard to believe.

Here are two of the coolest projects I've seen so far.

The first one comes from Australian pastry chef and chocolatier Ryan Foote in a few weeks to figure out how he 3D-prints chocolate in myriad forms here's a stunning plated dessert he made recently.

And this second one isn't technically 3D-printed chocolate, but involves 3D printing in general. In Japan around Valentine's Day a few years ago, FabCafe offered a workshop where patrons 3D-printed a mold of their head, filled it with chocolate, and then offered that bonbon as a special present in a larger box of candies to their beloved. Surprise! Terrifying or fun? You decide.

Is 3D-printing vital to these sweets, or is it just a gimmick? I'm on the fence. If the resulting chocolate is chockfull of crazy details that could only be achieved with a printer, then fine. But otherwise, I'm not sure what's gained by printing the chocolate versus making it (or its mold) in more traditional ways.

The 10 Strangest 3D-Printed Objects (so far)

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Best food 3D printers available on the market

3D printerCountryBuild volumePrice*Buy
byFlow FocusNetherlands208 x 228 x 150 mm€3,300
Choc Edge Choc Creator V2.0 PlusUK180 x 180 x 40 mm£2,380Quote
Micromake Food 3D printerChina100 x 100 x 15 mm$999See offer
Mmuse - Chocolate 3D PrinterChina160 x 120 x 150 mm$4,499
Natural Machines FoodiniSpain250 x 165 x 120 mm$4,000Quote
PancakeBot PancakeBot 2.0Norway445 x 210 x 15 mm$300
ZMorph VXPoland250 × 235 × 165 mm$3,050Quote
This table represents our selection of food 3D printers available on the market for under $6,000. These food 3D printers are listed in alphabetical order.

*Price: manufacturer suggested retail price. These prices may vary over time or change from one country to another.

If you make a purchase via one of our affiliate links, we may be eligible to earn a small commission to help support our site and its content.

3D Print Your Own Breakfast

Imagine coming down for breakfast and, instead of popping a piece of toast in the toaster and boiling an egg, you stick a cartridge in a printer. A minute or two later, you’ve got a freshly printed banana and flaxseed muffin.

Thanks to a new kind of 3D food printer, the printed breakfast is several steps closer to reality for the average consumer.

 "Food printing may be the 'killer app' of 3D printing," says Hod Lipson, who’s led the creation of the new printer. "It's completely uncharted territory." 

Lipson, a professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia University, has been studying 3D printing for nearly 20 years, working on printing things like plastics, metals, electronics and biomaterials. His work on 3D food printing came out of his research on printing complete 3D robots that could, in theory, “walk off the printer.”  

To achieve something like this, a printer must be able to print with many materials at the same time. While experimenting with making multi-material printers, Lipson noticed the students in his lab were beginning to use food as a test material.

“They were using cookie dough, cheese, chocolate, all kinds of food materials you might find around an engineering lab,” he says. “In the beginning, it was sort of a frivolous thing. But when people came to the lab and looked at it, they actually got really excited by the food printing.”

So Lipson and his team began to take a more serious look at just what they could do with food. There are two basic approaches to 3D food printing, Lipson explains. The first involves using powders, which are bound together during the printing process with a liquid such as water. The second—the approach used by Lipson’s lab—is extrusion-based, using syringes that deposit gels or pastes in specific locations determined by the software’s “recipe.”

Lipson’s prototype involves an infrared cooking element, which cooks various parts of the printed product at specific times.

“We’ve used all kinds of materials, with different levels of success,” Lipson says. “Sometimes the materials are conventional—eggs, flour, cookie dough, cheese, pesto, jam. Cream cheese is something students like to work with a lot.”

The printer prototype (Timothy Lee Photographers, Columbia University)

They’ve also recently collaborated with a New York culinary school, letting chefs play around with the prototype to see what they’d come up with.

“They kind of broke the machine by really pushing it to its limits,” Lipson says. “One thing we’ve learned is printing in cream cheese is very easy, but printing in polenta and beets is very hard. It has these granules in it, so from an engineering standpoint it’s much more challenging.

It’s also difficult to predict how different foods will fare when combined. It’s easy enough to create recipes based on single items like chocolate, whose properties are well-established. But when you start to mix things together—mixing, of course, being fundamental to cooking—the mixtures may have much more complex behaviors. Another challenge is figuring out when to cook what during the printing process. If you’re printing a pyramid of salmon and mashed potatoes, the salmon and the potatoes will need very different cooking times and temperatures. The team is tackling this problem with software design, working with computer scientists to create software that will predict what the final product will look like after cooking.

The printer Lipson's team has made is not the only food printer to be developed in recent years. But while products like Hershey’s chocolate-printing CocoJet or the Magic Candy Factory’sكD gummy printer are single-ingredient, limiting their use for the general public, Lipson’s printer is unique for being able to handle many ingredients at once, and cook them as it goes.

Lipson sees the printer as having two main uses for consumers. First, it could be a specialty appliance for cooking novel foods difficult to achieve by any other process. You could print, say, a complex pastry designed by someone in Japan, a recipe you’d never have the expertise or equipment to make by hand. Lipson says he could imagine digital recipes going viral, spreading across the globe. The second use is about health and targeted nutrition. People are already increasingly interested in personal biometrics, tracking their blood pressure, pulse, calorie burn and more using cell phones and computers. In the future, it may be possible to track your own health in much greater detail—your blood sugar, your calcium needs or your current vitamin D level. The printer could then respond to those details with a customized meal, produced from a cartridge of ingredients.

“Imagine a world where the breakfast that you eat has exactly what you need that day,” Lipson says. “Your muffin has, say, a little less sugar, a little more calcium.”

As for when the printer might be available to consumers, Lipson says it’s more a business challenge than a technology one.

“How do you get FDA approval? How do you sell the cartridges? Who owns the recipe? How do you make money off this?” he says. “It’s a completely new way of thinking about food. It’s very radical.”

A recent redesign of the prototype may bring the product closer to being something the average consumer would accept. Previous versions of the printer were very high-tech, full of tubes and sticking-out nozzles. People had a hard time imagining it on their kitchen counters.

Then, one of Lipson’s students named Drim Stokhuijzen, an industrial designer, completely redesigned the machine, giving it the sleek look of a high-end coffee maker.

“His design is so beautiful people are saying for the first time, ‘oh, I can see the appeal of food printing, this is something I might actually use,’” Lipson says.

Although Lipson doesn’t think 3D food printing will replace other cooking techniques, he does think it will revolutionize the kitchen.

“For millennia we’ve been cooking the same way,” he says. “Cooking is one of the things that hasn’t changed for eternity. We still cook over an open flame like cavemen. Software has permeated almost every aspect of our lives except cooking. The moment software enters any field—from manufacturing to communications to music, you name it—it takes off and usually transforms it. I think that food printing is one of the ways software is going to enter our kitchen.” 

About Emily Matchar

Emily Matchar is a writer based in Hong Kong and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The New Republic, The Washington Post and other publications. She is the author of Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity.

Hershey Envisions a 3-D Printer for Chocolates

Hershey Co. is joining with 3D Systems Corp. to develop ways to use 3-D printing technology to produce foods, including confectionery treats.

"Whether it is creating a whole new form of candy or developing a new way to produce it, we embrace new technologies such as 3-D printing as a way to keep moving our timeless confectionery treats into the future," said William Papa, Hershey's vice president and chief research and development officer, in a prepared statement.

Financial terms of the multiyear deal weren't provided.

A spokesman from 3D Systems said, "It's a first of its kind deal and an only of its kind deal."

3D Systems unveiled two 3-D printers of edible sugar and chocolate recently at the International Consumer Electronics Show. The ChefJet, which can print single colors, and the full-color ChefJet Pro are expected to be available in the second half. The ChefJet is expected to price below $5,000, while the ChefJet Pro is expected below $10,000.


Year Company/Group Name Description
2006 Cornell University [email protected], a project led by a group of students, was the first multi-material 3D printer to print food materials such as chocolate, cookie dough and cheese. [2]
2006-2009 Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories CandyFab was able to print large sugar sculptures by using hot air to selectively melt and fuse sugar grains together. [3]
2012 Choc Edge pp. [4]
2012-2015 biozoon GmbH PERFORMANCE was a project focused on printing easy to chew and easy to swallow food for seniors. [5]
2013 Modern Meadow In vitro meat was printed for the first time using a bioprinter. [6]
2014 3D Systems & Hershey's A chocolate printer that prints various shapes, sizes, and geometries using milk, dark and white chocolate was introduced. [7]
2014 Natural Machines Foodini, a commercially available printer, was introduced. This printer is able to print a wide range of ingredients and comes with an application that allows users to remotely create designs. [1]
2015 TNO & Barilla A pasta printer and an annual competition for the best pasta design are introduced. [8]
2018 Novameat The first meat-free steak made from vegetables that mimics meat texture was printed. [9]

There are three general areas that impact precise and accurate food printing: materials/ingredients (viscosity, powder size), process parameters (nozzle diameter, printing speed, printing distance), and post-processing methods (baking, microwaving, frying). [10]

Materials and ingredients Edit

The type of food available to print is limited by the printing technique. [11] For an overview of these printing techniques, please see the section Printing Techniques below:

Extrusion-based printing ingredients Edit

Common ingredients used in extrusion based printing are inherently soft enough to extrude from a syringe/printhead and possess a high enough viscosity to retain a shape. [12] In certain cases, powdered ingredients (protein, sugar, etc.) are added to increase viscosity, e.g. adding flour to water creates a paste that can be printed. [1] Inherently soft materials include: [13]

Certain ingredients that are solid can be used by melting and then extruding the ingredient, e.g. chocolate. [14]

Selective laser sintering and binder jetting ingredients Edit

Inkjet printing ingredients Edit

Ingredients with low viscosity are used for surface filling: [16] [17]

Printing techniques Edit

Extrusion-based printing Edit

Although there are different approaches to extrusion based printing, these approaches follow the same basic procedures. The platform on which food is printed consists of a standard 3-axis stage with a computer controlled extrusion head. This extrusion head pushes food materials through a nozzle typically by way of compressed air or squeezing. The nozzles can vary with respect to what type of food is being extruded or the desired printing speed [18] (typically the smaller the nozzle the longer the food printing will take). As the food is printed, the extrusion head moves along the 3-axis stage printing the desired food. Some printed food requires additional processing such as baking or frying before consumption.

Extrusion based food printers can be purchased for household use, are typically compact in size, and have a low maintenance cost. Comparatively, extrusion based printing provides the user with more material choices. However, these food materials are usually soft, and as a result, makes printing complex food structures difficult. In addition, long fabrication times and deformations due to temperature fluctuations with additional baking or frying require further research and development to overcome.

Hot-melt and room temperature Edit

In Hot-melt extrusion, the extrusion head heats the food material slightly above the material's melting point. The melted material is then extruded from the head and then solidifies soon thereafter. This allows the material to be easily manipulated into the desired form or model. Foods such as chocolate are used in this technique because of its ability to melt and solidify quickly. [14]

Other food materials do not inherently require a heating element in order to be printed. Food materials such as jelly, frosting, puree, and similar food materials with appropriate viscosity can be printed at room temperature without prior melting.

Selective laser sintering Edit

In selective laser sintering, powdered food materials are heated by and bonded together forming a solid structure. This process is completed by bonding the powdered material layer by layer with a laser as the heat source. After a layer is completed with the desired areas bonded, it is then covered by a new unbonded layer of powder. Certain parts of this new unbonded layer are heated by the laser in order to bond it with the structure. This process continues in a vertical upwards manner until the desired food model is constructed. After construction, unbonded material can then be recycled and used to print another food model.

Selective laser sintering enables the construction of complex shapes and models and the ability to create different food textures. It is limited by the range of suitable food materials, namely powdered ingredients. [3] Due to this limitation, selective laser sintering has been used primarily for creating sweets/candies.

Binder jetting Edit

Similarly to selective laser sintering, binder jetting uses powdered food materials to create a model layer by layer. Instead of using heat to bond the materials together, a liquid binder is used. After bonding the desired areas of a layer, a new layer of powder is then spread over the bonded layer covering it. Certain parts of this new layer are then bonded to the previous layer. The process is repeated until the desired food model is constructed.

As with selective laser sintering, binder jetting enables the construction of complex shapes and models and the ability to create different food textures. [15] Likewise, it is also limited by the range of suitable food materials, namely powdered ingredients.

Inkjet printing Edit

Inkjet printing is used for surface filling or image decoration. [16] By utilizing gravity, edible food ink is dropped onto the surface of the food, typically a cookie, cake, or other candy. This is a non-contact method, hence the printhead does not touch the food protecting the food from contamination during image filling. The ink droplets may consist of a broad range of colors allowing users to create unique and individualized food images. [17] An issue with inkjet printing is the food materials being incompatible with the ink resulting in no image or high image distortion. [19] Inkjet printers can be purchased for household or commercial use, and industrial printers are suitable for mass production.

Multi-printhead and multi-material Edit

In multi-printhead and multi-material printing, multiple ingredients are printed at the same time or in succession. [20] There are different ways to support multi-material printing. In one instance, multiple printheads are used to print multiple materials/ingredients, as this can speed up production, efficiency, and lead to interesting design patterns. [16] In another instance, there is one printhead, and when a different ingredient is required, the printer exchanges the material being printed. [21] Multiple materials/ingredients equates to a more diverse range of meals available to print, a broader nutritional range, and is quite common for food printers. [11]

Post-processing Edit

In the post-processing phase, printed food may require additional steps before consumption. This includes processing activities such as baking, frying, cleaning, etc. This phase can be one of the most critical to 3D printed food, as the printed food needs to be safe for consumption. An additional concern in post processing is the deformation of the printed food due to the strain of these additional processes. Current methods involve trial and error. That is, combining food additives with the materials/ingredients to improve the integrity of complex structures and to ensure the printed structure retains its shape. [20] Additives such as transglutaminase [20] and hydrocolloids [12] have been added to ingredients in order to help retain the printed shape while printing and after cooking.

Additionally, recent research has produced a visual simulation for baking breads, cookies, pancakes and similar materials that consist of dough or batter (mixtures of water, flour, eggs, fat, sugar and leavening agents). [22] By adjusting certain parameters in the simulation, it shows the realistic effect that baking will have on the food. With further research and development, a visual simulation of 3D printed foods being cooked could predict what is vulnerable to deformation.

Personal nutrition Edit

Personalized dietary requirements for an individual's nutritional needs has been linked to the prevention of diseases. [23] As such, eating nutritious food is paramount to living a healthy life. 3D printed food can provide the control necessary to put a custom amount of protein, sugar, vitamins, and minerals into the foods we consume. [24]

Another area in customized food, is elderly nutrition. The elderly sometimes cannot swallow foods, and as such require a softer pallet. [25] However, these foods are often unappealing causing some individuals not to eat what their bodies' nutritional needs require. [26] 3D printed food can provide a soft and aesthetically pleasing food in which the elderly can consume their bodies' dietary requirements. [27]

In October 2019, startup company Nourished 3D prints personalized nutritional gummies from 28 different vitamins. Individuals take a survey, then based on their answers, a personalized nutritional gummy is printed for that individual. [28]

Sustainability and solution for hunger Edit

As the world's population continues to grow, experts believe that current food supplies will not be able to supply the population. [29] Thus, a sustainable food source is critical. Studies have shown that entomophagy, the consumption of insects, has the potential to sustain a growing population. [30] Insects such as crickets require less feed, less water, and provide around the same amount of protein that chickens, cows, and pigs do. [30] Crickets can be ground into a protein flour. In one study, [31] researchers provide an overview of the process of 3D printing insect flour into foods that do not resemble insects thus, keeping the nutritional value of the insect intact.

Space exploration Edit

As humans begin venturing into space for a longer time, the nutritional requirements for maintaining crew health is critical. [32] Currently NASA is exploring ways of integrating 3D printing food into space in order to sustain the crew's dietary requirements. [33] The vision is to 3D print powdered food layers that have a shelf life of 30 years instead of using traditional freeze dried food that have a shelf life of 5 years. [34] In addition to dietary requirements, 3D printing food in space could provide a morale boost, as the astronauts would be able to design custom meals that are aesthetically pleasing. [35]

In September 2019, Russian cosmonauts, along with Israeli startup Aleph Farms, grew meat from cow cells, then 3D printed the cells into steaks. [36]

Meat bioprinting Edit

Livestock farming is one of the top contributors to deforestation, land degradation, water pollution and desertification. Among other reasons, this has led to the new promising technology of meat bioprinting. One alternative to livestock farming is cultured meat, also known as lab-grown meat. Cultured meat is produced by taking a small biopsy from animals, extracting the myosatellite cells and adding growth serum to multiply the cells. The resulting product is then used as a material for bioprinting meat. The post-processing phase, among other steps, includes adding flavour, vitamins and iron to the product. Yet another alternative is printing a meat analogue. Novameat, a Spanish startup has been able to print a plant-based steak and mimic the texture and appearance of real meat. [9]

Creative food design Edit

Food presentation and food appearance customization for individuals is a big trend in the food industry. So far food customization and creative designs have required hand-made skills, which results in low production rate and high cost. 3D food printing can overcome this problem by providing the necessary tools for creative food design even for home users. [11] 3D food printing has enabled some intricate designs which cannot be accomplished with traditional food manufacturing. Brand logos, text, signatures, pictures can now be printed on some food products like pastries and coffee. Complex geometric shapes have also been printed, mainly using sugar. With 3D printing, chefs can now turn their visual inspirations into signature culinary creations. Another benefit is being able to print nutritious meals in shapes that appeal to children. [1]

Reduced food waste Edit

Worldwide, one third of the total food produced for consumption, around 1.6 billion tons per year, goes to waste. Food waste happens during processing, distribution and consumption. 3D food printing is a very promising way of reducing food waste during the phase of consumption, by utilizing food products like meat off-cuts, distorted fruits and vegetables, sea food by-products and perishables. These products can be processed in a suitable form for printing. [37] Upprinting Food, a Dutch startup, has been blending and combining different ingredients from food waste to create purees which are then used as materials for 3D printing. [38] Chefs are also creating different dishes from leftover food using 3D food printers. [39]

Structure Edit

Unlike traditionally prepared food, the variety of food that can be manufactured using 3D printing is limited by the physical characteristics of the materials. Food materials are generally much softer than the weakest plastic used in 3D printing, making the printed structures very fragile. [40] So far, most studies use trial and error as an approach to overcoming this challenge, but scientists are working on developing new methods that are able to predict the behavior of different materials during the printing process. These methods are developed by analyzing the rheological properties of the materials and their relation to the printing stability. [41]

Design Edit

When designing a 3D model for a food product, the physical and geometrical limitations of the printing materials should be taken into account. This makes the designing process a very complex task and so far there is no available software that accounts for that. Building such software is also a complex task due to the vast variety of food materials. [40] Considering that personal users who incorporate 3D food printing in their kitchens represent a significant part of the overall users, the design of the software interface adds to the complexity. The interface of such software should be simple and have high usability while still providing enough features and customization options for the user without causing cognitive overload. [37]

Speed Edit

The current speed of 3D printing food could be sufficient for home use, but the process is very slow for mass production. [42] Simple designs take 1 to 2 minutes, detailed designs take 3 to 7 minutes, and more intricate designs take even longer. [1] The speed of printing food is tightly correlated to the rheological properties of the materials. Research shows that high printing speed results in low fidelity samples due to the dragging effect, while very low speed causes instability in material deposition. [37]

In order for 3D food printing to find its way to the food industry, the printing speed needs improvement or the cost of such technology should be affordable enough for companies to operate several printers. [43]

Multi-material printing Edit

The color, flavor and texture of food are of crucial importance when fabricating an edible product, thus in most cases it is required that a food printer supports multi-material printing. The current available 3D food printers are limited to using a few different materials due to the challenge of developing multiple extruder capabilities. This limits the variety of food products that can be 3D printed, leaving out complex dishes that require a lot of different materials. [40]

Safety Edit

When 3D printing food, the safety is very crucial. A food printer must ensure safety along the entire path taken by the food material. [40] Due to the possibility of food getting stuck somewhere along the path, bacteria accumulation is a major concern. Microbial stability is a crucial parameter of the quality of the printed food, thus it needs to be addressed both during the design of the printer and during the printing process. [37] On the other hand, the materials that come into contact with the food may not be as significant of a concern since high quality printers use stainless steel and BPA-free materials. [1]

Copyright Edit

Existing food products in the market such as chocolates in various shapes could easily be scanned and the obtained 3D models could be used to replicate those products. These 3D models could then be disseminated via Internet leading to copyright infringement. There are laws regulating copyright issues but it is not clear whether they will be sufficient to cover all aspects of a field like 3D food printing. [44]

5 Steps to Get Started with 3DFP!

1) Choose a recipe

Before we start making anything, you must know what you want to cook. I know, we love making things, but unless we want to feel the early frustration of not having the right tools for the right recipes, this is the way to go.

So where should I start? What should I print? Most makers naturally think let’s 3d print CHOCOLATE! Because who doesn’t like it, right? The idea sounds amazing. I am not going to tell you not to go for it. However, I want you to know that chocolate is one of the hardest materials to print. This is due to factors such as temperature requirements, time to set up, and overall messiness. Most often you will find yourself cleaning up more than eating. If you are a maker who loves a challenge and really want to start with chocolate, here’s one tips on how to get started. The 3drag chocolate extruder is an open source solution you can use to print your chocolate treats. FYI: even though the 3drag is awesome and gets you a step closer to 3d printing chocolate, it’s still not an easy route.

Some easy recipes to start with are mixtures that have consistency with the material you want to print with. For example, mashed potatoes, hummus, pumpkin puree, icing… Doughs would work too but those tend to be a bit harder, meaning that we are going to need a stronger extruder for them.

Once we have selected our printing material we are going to need a printer.

2) Find a 3D Printer

Here is where I hope you have a 3D printer that is open enough that enables you to modify it to add your own tools. Or even better, getting started with 3D food printing is a great excuse to build your own!

That’s what inspired us at 3DIGITALCOOKS to create the Pinya3 . Pinya3 is a 3d food printing platform designed to fit in the kitchen.

What it mainly provides is a 3 axis motion that can control different tools we develop for it. The most obvious one being a food paste extruder. And that’s what you will need. Not specifically a Pinya3 but a CNC platform (for example a 3d printer) that allows you to control 3 motion axis and an extruder.

If you don’t have one, there are plenty of open source 3d printer options out there including RepRap, Prusa3, Delta printers, Ultimakers, and lots more.

If you do not want to build your own printer and want to go the simple route I would recommend getting a PancakeBot . We like the PancakeBot beacuse is an out of the box solution that will get you printing pancakes in no time and it’s a great place to start 3DFP. It’s also very maker friendly and easy to modify because of the Atmel ATmega 2560 inside. Another option would be the Bocusini or for example a PrintrBot bundle.

Check out the PancakeBot in action:

3) Get a 3DFP Extruder

Once you have a platform that allow you to print, next thing you need is to choose the right extruder mechanism. The extruder you get, will be highly dependant on what you want to print.

If you want to build it yourself, there are plenty of open source options for this. Syringe extruders are the number one option because of their ease to build and use. Some of your choices are the legendary RichRap design , 3D drag design, the BotBQ design or Anthony Pray Pinshape design . There are many options out there. Some very important factors you need to know:

  • If your material has a thin consistency you are good with nearly any solution. You’ll be better off to go for the simplest and smallest.
  • If your material is thicker or you are planning on having a big syringe with lots of material, make a beefier extruder that is more powerful.

Is hard to measure what powerful enough means in terms of thickness of a mixture. So my rule of thumb is:

if your printer can handle it, go big

This will open the door to more pasty-foods in the future since you will have a wider range of thickness that your extruder can work with.

If you do not feel confident building your own extruder I would suggest taking a look into some of the commercially available add-ons for your printer. Some might need small modifications depending on the type of printer you are using. The Discov3ry is a well established paste extruder with a big user community. The Printrbot with their new paste and food extruder or the 3d drag extruder . The later two have heating systems included. Which might be confusing at the beginning but useful in the future when you start evolving in the 3d food printing realm.

If the paste mixture that you choose is harder, such as cookie-dough, I would suggest looking into air compressed extruder systems. These are easy to use, and definitely feel more crafty since the pressure of the extruder can be controlled manually on the fly to adjust your prints. Even though this is a great tool to have fun and learn, advancing to have better results will require more advance extrusion systems.

If you want to discover more about extrusion mechanisms for pastes, I highly recommend to read the RepRap Issue Magazine #3 , it has a great article by Dries Verbruggen ( .

4) Choose a Design

Design for 3d food printing is the wild west! There are not many tools that will allow you to design for it and also be compatible with your printer. At 3DIGITALCOOKS we have been creating our own tools for this reason, some may work for you.

That being said, the easiest way to start designing for 3DFP is to use the same programs as you’d use for 3d printing. Suggestion is to start slow with TinkerCAD or an entry level 3D printing design tool for example and move up to more advanced design tools from there.

In this case you must consider to design WITH the food that you are going to print in mind. It is not just about the obvious reasons like avoiding bridging and hardcore overhangs.

You must adjust the dimensions and height of the design based on the properties of your material. For example, some material will be able to hold together when creating higher structures, and some will not. Another thing to keep in mind is how easily your material will deform.

Overall, experimentation is the best answer to help you get the right design that will print properly.

Understanding the limitations of the material you are printing with will help you to have better results. Technology is not quite where we want yet, but we’re working on it!

5) Adjust the Slicer Settings

Before printing there is a very important final step – adjusting our slicer settings.

Start with slow printing speeds. Fine tune the extruder multiplier to adjust for the right mixture flow. If available, play with retraction values to avoid dripping material. Try to have the maximum retraction speed your extruder+food combination can handle. Parameters will be highly dependant on your food choice. Start with what you know and adjust the 3d printing parameters from there.

Don’t give up here, by far this is the hardest part to master.I promise, the challenge will be worth it when you surprise your friends and family with 3D printed treats.

3D printing food is for fun but it’s important to take a few simple safety measures. Make sure everything is tidy and any surface in contact with food is clean. We are still alive, so use common sense and take your food handling seriously.

We hope you enjoyed this beginners guide. We know this does not cover all the questions you may have about 3DFP but we are confident this will help you to ask the right questions to get you on the right track to print the food of the future! Feel free to leave any questions for us in the comments below.

3D printing and food can work together in many different ways, including dieting food. There is a lot of research being done around 3D printing and food, including how we can use 3D printed food to print cellulose that would help people feel more full but not contribute any calories. This may be able to help with people who are trying to lose weight by snacking less.

Hershey's chocolate bars will soon be stamped with emojis — yes, even the poop one

Hershey’s chocolate bars have been around for over a century and, during that time, they've barely changed their look.

But this summer, for the first time in the brand’s 125-year history, big changes are coming and there are already a lot of feelings involved.

Literal feelings, actually, because soon the beloved candy bars are being redesigned to include emojis.

Each new Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Emoji Bar will include the same, mini rectangular bars in every package, but rather than those rectangular pieces being engraved with the word "Hershey’s," there will soon be a unique emoji in each square.

While there are hundreds of emojis out there, only 25 were selected by children and adults to "feature meanings that would help to spark a conversation and make new connections," according to a company press release.

“In today’s text-savvy world, many conversations start with a message that contains an emoji so it made sense to work directly with people using emojis the most — parents and kids," Kriston Ohm, senior brand manager for Hershey’s, told TODAY Food via email. "It turned out that both generations favored the same 25 emojis. We chose to feature each one of these popular emojis on our new Hershey Emoji bars.”

Among the excited heart eyes face, thumbs up and a heart emoji, there are some rather unconventional stamps, including the ghost and the smiling poop face.

Guess people really do love that little guy!

Hershey's has yet to set a specific release date for the bars but there will be six different package designs rolling out "this summer."

The Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Emoji Bar will be available nationwide at grocery stores and other food retail spaces.

The standard sized bar starts at 99 cents and a snack bag (which is almost 9.5 ounces of chocolate) will retail for about $4.

Aly Walansky is a New York City-based food and lifestyle writer with nearly two decades of writing experience for various digital publications. She's focused on the latest in dining trends and budget meal-planning tips.