It’s unfortunately arriving a little too late to woo whoever was your Valentine this year, but next month, you’ll be able to pre-order a 3D printer that swaps melted plastic for melted chocolate, allowing you to create personalized treats for whoever that special someone happens to be next year.
The idea behind a 3D printer that can create custom food instead of random plastic objects has been around as long as 3D printers themselves have. Over the years, we’ve reported on everything from 3D-printed meat to ornately designed 3D-printed meals to even experimental 3D-printed chocolate with engineered structures that improve the snapping sensation when bitten into: a characteristic of high quality chocolate.
We’ve even covered pens that trade ink for melted chocolate, allowing users to write edible messages or build up shapes. But the Cocoa Press is going to be part of the very small group of consumer-friendly chocolate printers that does everything automatically, churning out sweet 3D-printed creations based on either your own custom designs or those downloaded from sites like Printables.
A build-it-yourself kit will be available for pre-order starting on April 17 for $1,499 (with a $100 deposit), and the company expects to ship to customers in the US and Canada as soon as September. The Cocoa Press machine will take about 10 hours to assemble, and while it won’t be as easy as putting together an Ikea side table, it shouldn’t require an advanced engineering degree, either.
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Instead of spools of resin filament, the Cocoa Press relies on chocolate cartridges filled with 70 grams of a blend of cocoa solids and palm oil. The cartridge needs to be warmed to just below the average human body temperature before printing—a pre-heating process that takes about 15 minutes. The company will sell 10-packs of chocolate cartridge refills for $49, and while users can definitely use their own chocolate instead, it might take some trial and error and experimentation to get a mix that prints as well as what Cocoa Press sells.
The company also promises that all the components on the 3D printer that actually touch the chocolate can be easily cleaned, and it looks like the six-inch printing bed is covered in a small piece of Silpat-like silicone material, which should make prints easy to lift off once they’ve cooled.
As cool as it is to see technology like this finally reaching consumers, the $1,499 price tag (or $3,995+ for professional-grade versions) is a little steep for those not immediately planning to sell their creations through an Etsy shop. Unless those of you in the comment section are willing to be my shoulder devils and convince me otherwise. I’m listening.