Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) has pioneered a new approach for 3D printing chocolate at room temperature.
Instead of using the conventional hot-melt extrusion approach, the SUTD team utilized the cold extrusion method which they say offers a wider potential for 3D printing temperature-sensitive food.
The hot-melt extrusion method is widely used for 3D printing chocolates where the chocolate is required to be between the temperatures of 31oC to 36oC so that it can be melted and dispensed accordingly.
While this method has its advantages in simplicity and accessibility, the narrow range of operating temperature can be highly restrictive and inflexible.
3D printing chocolate via cold extrusion hasn’t been feasible so far because there aren’t many inks that possess the required rheological properties.
In order to remedy this, SUTD’s Soft Fluidics Lab has developed a new ‘Chocolate-based Ink 3D Printing’ (Ci3DP) approach for printing chocolate-based inks at room temperature via cold extrusion.
Using the Ci3DP approach, readily available chocolate products such as syrups and pastes can be mixed with cocoa powder to alter the rheology of the ink.
According to the scientists, chocolate-based inks with high concentrations of cocoa powders exhibited shear-thinning properties with high viscosity.
The inks also possessed a toothpaste-like property that did not flow at rest.
To highlight this capability, the SUTD team demonstrated 3D models consisting of chocolate syrups and pastes.
The same method was also extended to the fabrication of a chocolate with different textures by using multiple types of inks.
For instance, a piece of chocolate was fabricated with a semi-solid enclosure and liquid filling at the same time, further demonstrating the flexibility that this approach provides.
Image and content SUTD via Eurekalert