Converting a 3Drag into a Chocolate 3D Printer
Browsing 3Digital Cooks, I came across a post about Open Electronics’ method for modifying a RepRap 3D printer, specifically a 3Drag, to 3D print in chocolate. Sure, there are other printers out there that can 3D print in chocolate, even a few entirely devoted to the delicious practice, but Open Electronics modifies some of these methods for more reliable chocolate printing.
The process of converting your 3Drag printer into a chocolate printer is described in great detail at the Open Electronics site. What you’ll see going through OE author Boris Landoni’s project is that Boris has come up with a unique extruder design for maintaining the heat of the chocolate being used. As with many chocolate printing extruders, Boris’s design uses a simple syringe; however, as Boris points out (and friend Julian Sing has told me), tempering the chocolate is vital to the printing process.
Boris wraps the syringe in an aluminum cylinder, with an attached heater and thermistor temperature sensor. This ensures that the heat from the heater doesn’t just heat the extruding end of the syringe, but that the heat is passed through the entire body of the syringe, keeping the chocolate at the between 32° and 33° C. Outside of the aluminum, Boris has wrapped a layer of Kapton film, which helps prevent the heat from escaping the surface of the cylinder. The extruder can then keep a steady tempering temperature so that, as the chocolate is printed, it can be cooled at room temperature.
The one issue with this, and almost all chocolate printing, is that, due to the slow rate of cooling, the chocolate must be printed at the measured speed of 20 mm/s. Robots in Gastronomy may have found their own solution to such problems by printing onto a flash freezing anti-griddle. If you have a 3Drag or want to test out the extruder on your own RepRap, OE has actually packaged itfor sale at their shop for €145.90.