Additive Manufacturing & The Chocolate Factory

The advent of 3D printing has had some surprising applications, particularly in the food industry.

The adoption of 3D printing in the manufacturing sector is growing, but as with any production technology, the key to proliferation lies in finding the right niche.

Maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services offer a promising entry point for job shops and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to use additive manufacturing for more than just prototyping. The Chocolate Factory, based in Rotterdam, recently learned this firsthand.

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3D food printing: Precision and accuracy an obstacle to fulfilling potential

Printing precision and accuracy, process productivity and the production of colourful, multi-flavour, multi-structure products remain the biggest challenges to wider industry adoption of 3D food printing.

Findings from a review of this emerging technology point towards a lack of focus on how to achieve accurate an precise printing in order to construct delicate and complex edible structures.


Although 3D printing has uses in areas such as military and spave food, ederly food, confectionary and chewing gum, the research team believe more is to come once these challenges are overcome.

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3D Food Printing: Testing the boundaries of cooking

For those of us who grew up in the late twentieth century, the future of food constituted a boundless frontier for our imagination. Would we just feed on pills containing all the nutrients we need? Will we be able to construct food out of thin air, assembling atoms floating in the environment like in The Jetsons? Would small, dehydrated lumps turn into full on roast chicken meals, like in Luc Besson’s 1997 film The Fifth Element? Or would we be rather forced to consume deceased humans in the forms of protein bars, like in the dystopian nightmare represented in Richard Fleischer’s 1973 Soylent Green?

The present at times reflects those early inspirations, at times totally diverges. While we do have access to a product called Soylent, supposed to provide you with all the nutrition you need without worrying about cooking or, actually, even chewing, the pills for space travelers never materialized. In fact, astronauts seem to appreciate food that reminds them of their lives on Earth, with all its emotional and symbolic meanings.

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Farmers reap rewards from 3D printing

Sample of mechanical parts made using 3D printing technology sit in display as an employee works on a design at a printing factory in Yangon. Photos: AFPWhizzing across a blue-lit platform with a whirr and a squeak, liquid plastic pours from its chrome tip. The 3D printer seems a far cry from the muddy fields surrounding Yangon.

But in an industrial park south of the city 3D printing technology is now being used to design bespoke parts that are changing the lives of struggling farmers, who often rely on making their own tools or adapting imports in place of agriculture machinery.

But poor equipment is only one challenge amid natural disasters and razor-thin profit-margins for Myanmar’s farmers. Agriculture accounts for nearly half of Myanmar’s economic output, but it is among the smallest export markets in Asia.

But change is afoot at social enterprise Proximity Designs, where 3D printers are being used to design specially adapted farming tools, in consultation with the farmers who will use them.

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3D printing and the future of food

Printing out your meal may not sound appealing, but 3D technology could revolutionize food manufacturing. There could come a day in the near future when it’s a tablet to table kind of lunch.

It’s Friday night and you want a pizza, but instead of calling the local pizzeria for delivery, you just print out your dinner. Think that sounds a bit too farfetched? Think again.

Foodini from Natural Machines is a 3D printing kitchen appliance that makes pizza, pasta, breads and cookies. It assembles layers of fresh ingredients to take a complex process, like making ravioli, and simplifies the steps, as well as easing the kitchen clean up which is a big value-add.

Initially targeting professional chefs, Natural Machines’ co-founder Lynette Kucsma envisions a time in the near future when a 3D food printer will be a common kitchen appliance. Foodini, which is currently available in limited production with general availability in 2016, will cost about $1,500, according to the Natural Machines website. And, as competitors hit the market and prices start to plummet, a 3D printer could be a convenient way for consumers to make healthy meals on-the-go rather than turning to highly-processed foods packaged for the microwave.

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