Chocolate Ink For 3D Printed Desserts

By considering the flow properties of syrups and pastes mixed with cocoa powder, Singapore-based researchers have found a way to 3D print chocolate at room temperature.

AsianScientist (Dec. 20, 2019) – Researchers at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) have pioneered a cold extrusion method to 3D print chocolate-based products at room temperature. They published their findings in the Scientific Reports.

The hot-melt extrusion method is widely used in 3D printed chocolates where the chocolate is required to be between the temperatures of 31-36°C 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.

Conversely, cold extrusion does not require the manipulation of temperature as it depends solely on the flow properties, or rheology, of printing ink that is added to chocolate at the operating temperature. However, due to the lack of inks with suitable rheological properties, cold extrusion in 3D printed chocolate has not been demonstrated to date.

In this study, researchers from SUTD’s Soft Fluidics Lab have successfully developed cold extrusion for 3D printing of chocolate, a technique which they named ‘chocolate-based ink 3D printing’ (Ci3DP).

The Ci3DP approach involves mixing readily available chocolate products, such as syrups and pastes, with cocoa powder to alter the rheology of the ink. 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.

The researchers demonstrated Ci3DP in the creation of chocolate with different 3D shapes and textures, applying multiple types of inks. For instance, a piece of chocolate was fabricated with a semi-solid enclosure and liquid filling at the same time, showcasing the flexibility of Ci3DP.

“The simplicity and flexibility of Ci3DP offer great potential in fabricating complex chocolate-based products without the need for temperature control,” said Dr. Rahul Karyappa at SUTD who led the study.

The researchers noted their method is not only useful for 3D printing chocolate, but also allows for the cold extrusion of food products that are temperature-sensitive, thereby widening the food industry’s capabilities in customizing food products for a range of consumers.

The article can be found at: Karyappa et al. (2019) Chocolate-based Ink Three-dimensional Printing (Ci3DP).


Source: Singapore University of Technology and Design. Photo: Pexels.
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