One of the current drivers for mass 3D printing adoption is self-replication. We have covered the subject quite a few times on 3DPI, from iMakr’s “Selfies at Selfridges” to home delivered self-cloning by Shapify. However, while “selfie” was one of the top new words for 2013, “chocolate” is probably one of the world’s favorite words since Christopher Columbus discovered the New World (up until then cocoa was just a “new world thing”, then Europeans made it fatter and so much sweeter). So what happens if you combine one of the world’s favorite foods and 3D printed selfies? You get a 3D printed chocolate selfie that may truly unleash the power of chocolate 3D printing.
Choc Edge’s new portrait service has been available since Christmas and includes both 2D chocolate portraits and 3D chocolate statuettes. Both are printed through the same Choc Creator V1 3D printer. We first told you about Choc Edge last December (its products seem to enjoy a particular appeal during the holiday period), when we introduced its 3D printer, the first one to employ additive manufacturing techniques for the creation of intricate chocolate shapes and decorations. Since then the company founded by Dr Liang Hao from the University of Exeter, in Devon, UK, has continued to develop new ideas and applications and its technology has proven to be quite versatile.
A 2D portrait (printed on edible rice paper) only requires a normal photo file while the 3D sculpture (just faces for now) needs an STL file with a facial 3D scan. Prices may vary quite a bit, with portraits priced at £24.99 and sculptures ranging from £50 to £80, depending on size and amounts of delicious belgian chocolate used (I can already picture Homer Simpson drooling over his own chocolate replica, but being that he is a 2D cartoon, would it be 2D or 3D?).
As with most new technologies prices are still quite expensive – as is the machine, which you can own for £2.888 (exl. VAT) – but Choc Edge products are already attracting many customers and the ever so important media attention. The Daily Mail just ran an online piece on this new portrait service, while the entire company was invited by North One Television to be part of a new primetime technology show fronted by Stephen Fry, showcasing personalized chocolate portraits for a “high-tech dinner party”.
Dr. Hao, who is also the company’s director is working hard to cater to this global appetite by introducing many new products and services in the months to come (and by answering my email request for information on the afternoon of December 31st). Choc Creator owners will soon be able to print with different colour chocolates and take advantage of a Thingiverse-style network on the Choc Edge’s website, to upload and download printable models.
Personally I am an advocate of Choc Edge technology. As I have said before, food 3D printing should be a complement to traditional cooking, not aim to substitute it. With Choc Creator any pastry chef will be able to add creative and otherwise impossible decorations to any of his or her traditionally baked cakes and pastries. Up until now, however, the range of 3D printed chocolate creations was too limited to truly impress food artists who rely on long standing culinary traditions and practices. The idea of using chocolate to create something as unique as someone’s face, however, will likely (and literally) turn quite a few heads.