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May 21, 2016

A few months ago Choc Edge was approached to get involved with the BBC Radio 1 Academy in Exeter. This was an exciting opportunity as Choc Edge began at Exeter University and the theme of the week-long series of workshops for 16-19 year olds was creativity, something which is very important to Choc Edge.

We agreed to spend a day at the Academy showing the bright young people there the Choc Creator, allowing them to try the machine and get their name printed in chocolate using our web-based apps. We also offered to do something special with one of the DJs.

The BBC wanted to get one of the DJs to do something fun with 3D printing, so we thought it would be an ideal opportunity to show off not only our popular 2D chocolate portraits, but also our more recent experiments with 3D printing chocolate heads. So in addition to preparing portraits from photographs of the DJs who were at the event we also got daytime DJ Scott Mills scanned with the help of Exeter's Fab Lab, and then created a 3D printed chocolate head.


Scott Mills getting 3D scanned by Fab Lab Devon


Although we only had a few hours to process the scan, optimise it for chocolate printing, and print it before heading down to Exeter's Phoenix Centre to set up, we managed to print three heads successfully – two high resolution ones using a 0.4mm nozzle, and one slightly bigger but lower resolution chocolate head using a 0.8mm nozzle.

The largest finished head was about 3.5cm high, and while it might have been possible to produce a larger one there wasn't enough time to properly experiment. We decided it was best to go for a guaranteed result which was still a recognisable reproduction of Scott's head in chocolate.


The Choc Creator V2.0+ printing Scott Mills' chocolate 3D head


On the day the heads weren't revealed to Scott until the show, making it a surprise for him live on air. After the initial reveal both Scott and his co-host Chris ate the chocolate heads noting the good likeness and great taste. The small size of the chocolate head provided a source of comedy on air, although everyone was made aware beforehand of how big they would be.


Scott Mills eating chocolate Scott on air


After the tasting Scott's crew posted an image of him and his chocolate head on Twitter, to 2.65m followers, which proved popular and was their most liked tweet of the day. 



We also managed to snap a picture of Greg James with his face portrait. 


Greg James with his 2D chocolate portrait


While there's clearly room for improvement with our 3D chocolate heads, it was great to be able to share this exciting development with the young people at the Academy and the BBC Radio 1 audience. Hopefully we've inspired a few people to do creative things with chocolate and technology, and with their own Choc Creators. You can download the whole show and hear Scott tasting his chocolate head here.

If you'd like to print your own heads or faces in chocolate why not contact our sales team to find out more about using the Choc Creator and how to order.



May 6, 2016

Experimenting is a big part of what we do here at Choc Edge, finding out what works and what doesn't when creating unique objects in chocolate. Often a new experiment will be started as a result of a request from a potential customer.

Recently we got asked if it was possible to scan and 3D print bobbleheads in chocolate. It was an idea we hadn't tried before but it sounded like fun and something there might be more demand for. So we went out and got a Star Wars bobblehead (we had to settle for Poe Dameron as they were all out of Reys) and armed ourselves with a Sense 3D scanner.



We tried covering the model in tape to eliminate the issues of overhanging areas that wouldn't print. This proved to be effective and was quicker than it would have been to sculpt out the model in a program like Blender or Mesh Mixer. The tape was a good choice as it created a nice smooth slanting edge that is perfectly suited to chocolate printing.



The images below show that while it is possible, the maximum height of the models the Choc Creator V2.0 Plus can print and the lack of colour information make it difficult to create a recognisable reproduction. If you were to somehow add the decals onto the chocolate model it would start to look a lot more like the original bobblehead.



It was a useful experiment and another good example of the difference between printing with a 0.8mm nozzle and a 0.4mm one. At 0.4mm you can start to see the contours of the model more clearly and it becomes more recognisable. The model was printed at about 40mm in height – the maximum height it is possible to print with the Choc Creator.



As far as our experiments go we'd call this one a success – the results might not make for the best end product but the print itself was as good a representation of the original model in chocolate as it's possible for us to get.


Apr 15, 2016

This Easter Choc Edge got its Einstein on, giving a demonstration of the Choc Creator at the Cambridge Science Centre and talking about the science of 3D printing chocolate. It was a great opportunity to explain how we've adapted 3D printing and chocolate science to create unique and tasty 3D prints, and to show the machine in action.

To demonstrate the 3D capabilities of the Choc Creator a model of Einstein's head was chosen, downloaded from Thingiverse, and tweaked slightly so it would print without supports. Although we don't normally do true 3D printing at events because the typical environment is usually too warm to produce 3D prints, it seemed like a good opportunity to show the effect that even slight changes in temperature can have on the chocolate.



Anticipating trouble printing the 3D head a good print was produced in our temperature controlled lab beforehand, and taken as an example of what it should look like. As the picture below shows even the first results made it clear that it was too warm to print.

When starting the room temperature was around 23°C and climbed to over 25°C throughout the course of the day. 22°C is really the max you want when printing, ideally closer to 21°C, and the effect of a couple of degrees increase is clear - transforming the chocolate from a saggy model to a completely unstructured pile of chocolate.



A 0.8mm nozzle was used, rather than a 0.4mm one which is preferable for printing heads, as it's the most reliable when the temperature can't be controlled. The sample head would have been much clearer with a 0.4mm resolution. However, even at a low resolution the children at the centre were still able to recognise the head as Einstein, though this is largely because of his distinctive facial features and hair.



During the talk, key factors in 3D chocolate printing were touched on such as the properties of the material, how we prepare it, and how we control the parameters of the Choc Creator to get the best results. Mixing elements of physics and chemistry 3D chocolate printing is a great way of engaging younger children in science, and the audience on the day was about 7 – 11 years old.

Although the talk just scratched the surface of the science behind 3D chocolate printing, we shared enough information to give everyone a good understanding of how the machine works, and hopefully inspire them to make their own unique chocolate creations in the future.

Choc Edge was really excited to appear at the Cambridge Science Centre and it should definitely top the list of places to visit for families in the area - whatever kind of science you're into. It promotes STEM skills and education in a really fun and engaging way, and is certainly inspiring to us as we look to promote the Choc Creator as an engaging educational tool. 


Image courtesy of Cambridge Science Centre

To find out more about using the Choc Creator to inspire and educate your students get in touch with our knowledgable sales team.


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