3D printing with chocolate
piq Chocolates is a startup that is among a few 3D thinkers developing viable ways to offer edible, 3D printed chocolates as gifts and promotional items. While the shapes they offer are limited to a simple embossed effect on a square or rectangle, piq is so far the first producer making custom printed chocolate a true online printing/ordering service. This means you can upload a design to their website, and choose a few options, such as type of chocolate and a couple of sizes, and have a great looking 3D printed chocolate gift shipped to you or your giftee.
I discovered piq via their Kickstarter campaign, and chose their smaller 2” x 2” chocolate bar. Here’s a rundown of the experience, from design to consumption.
Creating and Uploading the design
Knowing that the finished product is basically a simple “relief”, I developed a design that had bold black and white areas. piq allows you to upload GIF, JPG and PNG files.
For both the base and raised layers, I got to pick from white, milk and dark chocolate. I chose dark chocolate on a white chocolate base.
It was super helpful to get a 3D, rotatable preview of the design.
Issues I ran into
I backed off when too many uncertainties came up. I sent them an email with the subject, “afraid to click the Buy button,” and told them my concerns:
1. Is a single bevel level my only option?
2. What are the design limitations?
3. Are there minimum line thicknesses?
They responded very quickly, and were curious about what prevented me from clicking that button. However, it took a bit of back and forth to get all my questions answered. I attribute this to the mad startup rush as they must have been experiencing, with brand new equipment and the pre-christmas, post-kickstarter insanity.
Still, I now had enough information to complete my order. I thickened the inner border to the amount suggested by Levi, re-uploaded and clicked that button.
Receiving the finished design
Though I waited until a very unfair December 15 to complete my order, I was delighted to receive it with time to spare (sorry, don’t have the exact date, but it was a good one).
I’m not sure why, but they sent two bars. I have a feeling it was because they had a little trouble with my outer border. Next time I do this, I’ll keep that in mind and plan accordingly.
Overall, however, I was relieved and delighted with the result. I can’t wait to try some other ideas. For one thing, I want to see what happens with a more fluid pattern.
The bars were carefully packed to survive the journey, and the box with its sticker was so lovely I decided to put it straight under the tree without wrapping it.
With a family of artists and designers, cameras were ready as the giftee (a.k.a. my son, the only one who didn’t know what was in the box) opened his package. It was a hit, and was passed from hand to hand (in the protective package) around the room before being devoured on the spot. It was really good chocolate; He did save one for later.
There’s a whole lot of potential for custom printed chocolates, and 3D printed chocolate in particular. The Fun Quotient is high, particularly since piq has made the process relatively painless. Putting this post together has inspired some more ideas, too, and I’ll share updates about those in the future.
If you love DIY, check out this Instructables project, which shows you how to build a 3D chocolate printer with LEGO®.
And if you’ve got questions, or would like us to help you create a 3D printed chocolate gift, please do get in touch.
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still can’t figure out how a 3d printer can chocolate such a nice chocolate..
Very beautiful! I like the way you design chocolates! Perfect!!
Thanks, Julie! Let me know if you decide to try your own idea.
Great article. Makes me want to try out this concept. I can’t think of anything that’s been left out in your “How to” instructions. Your follow up idea is a good one.