3D Printing Food Hack Chat

Printing's not just for plastic anymore

Wednesday, July 5, 2023 12:00 pm PDT Local time zone:
Hack Chat
Similar projects worth following

Ellie Weinstein will host the Hack Chat on Wednesday, July 5 at noon Pacific.

Time zones got you down? Try our handy time zone converter.


In the right hands, food goes beyond mere sustenance and becomes a work of art. We've all seen examples -- the carefully crafted blends of flavors, the quality ingredients expertly cooked, the artful platings that make a dramatic presentation at the table. But where the artistry really seems to take off is with desserts, which pastry chefs and confectioners can take to the next level with edible sculptures of chocolate and other sweets that can tower dramatically over the table.

That's all well and good for the haute cuisine set, but what about the rest of us? We can't all have the talent and drive needed to produce edible art, so perhaps we can leverage technology to help us out. That's just one of the rationales behind food 3D printing, which is what we'll be exploring with Ellie Weinstein. She's the CEO of Cocoa Press, where they're bringing chocolate 3D printing to the mainstream. It's not as easy as you might think -- there are plenty of nuances and engineering challenges when you're trying to print chocolate or any other kind of food. Make sure you stop by and check it out; it's sure to be a treat.

  • Hack Chat Transcript, Page 2

    Dan Maloney07/05/2023 at 20:30 0 comments

    Thomas Shaddack12:57 PM
    I saw somewhere printing dye into gel, for jello shots.

    Tom Nardi12:57 PM
    Yeah, I think there were a few specialty chocolate shops that actually had them. In general, Brooke kind of moved on towards more bespoke 3D printers for specific industries, I remember for awhile he had a couple machines custom made for printing prosthetic limbs.

    Ellie12:58 PM
    This is an entire new side of it that I haven't worked on yet! I've been so focused on chocolate because I think it is the most difficult, especially with respect to temperature control, that once Chocolate becomes easier, some of these other applications are also possible.

    Ellie12:59 PM
    Oh that's cool @Tom Nardi. I wonder what he's currently working on. I know he had a couple of machines in the works, but I never saw if they shipped or not

    Ellie12:59 PM

    Ellie12:59 PM
    Now I'm going to go down the new idea rabbit hole haha

    Thomas Shaddack1:00 PM
    Bioprinting is a fun area, certainly. And shares problems with many other materials.

    Dan Maloney1:00 PM
    The Hack Chat is a good rabbit-hole maker

    Ellie1:00 PM
    coextrusion or a tool changing chocolate printer would also be really fun. I'm working on making colorful chocolate (dyed white chocolate). That could work really well in the tool changing settings

    Ellie1:00 PM
    Haha @Dan Maloney I can see that 😄

    Thomas Shaddack1:01 PM
    My machine is hacked with the head mounted on a load cell. The cell is a rectangular bar that could be friendly for tool exchange.

    Thomas Shaddack1:02 PM
    Some wearable tech uses magnetic connectors. Phone chargers too. That can be leveraged for the electrical wiring to the head.

    Tom Nardi1:02 PM
    Have you mentioned yet about the nozzle? Are different sizes planned?

    Thomas Shaddack1:02 PM
    Multihead machine would also allow having one nozzle big and fat, for the bulk, and the other fine, for the surface details. But the slicer would be likely a nightmare to write.

    Ellie1:03 PM
    I generally print in a 0.8mm nozzle, but I am planning a 1.6mm nozzle too! Not sure if/when I'll launch that. I am curious how cooling time will be affected with 4x the flow rate

    Thomas Shaddack1:03 PM
    Thought that may work with relative ease. Manually swappable heads. Print the part with one chocolate, swap head, print the surface details.

    Thomas Shaddack1:04 PM
    Consider a thermal camera, to watch the material behavior at the nozzle?

    Ellie1:04 PM
    I think Prusa Slicer already has some variable layer height stuff written in. Not sure about that one yet, but with their 5 tool tool changer coming out soon, I wouldn't be surprised if that gets added at some point

    Thomas Shaddack1:04 PM
    I saw somewhere a trick with ZnSe lasercutter lens for making a macro from a FLiR One.

    Ellie1:04 PM
    I use Prusa Slicer for all of my chocolate slicing!

    Thomas Shaddack1:05 PM
    I use SuperSlicer which is a fork with some added features. Easier inspection of the g-code. (Or I didn't find how to make it easy enough in PrusaSlicer.)

    Ellie1:05 PM
    I think we are going to see a lot more camera/lidar based AI coming to printers in the future. I'm so ready for it

    Thomas Shaddack1:05 PM
    Same here!

    Ellie1:06 PM
    Also I have about 25 more minutes, so if you haven't asked anything yet, please feel free to pop in!

    Dan Maloney1:07 PM
    I was just about to barge in and call time, but if you want to keep going, that's fine too

    Thomas Shaddack1:07 PM
    Not just for printers. CNC machines too. Imagine one that knows where the fixtures are, that sees when the workpiece moved, that will never crash the tool by a stupid operator mistake.

    Thomas Shaddack1:08 PM
    ...a poor man's vibration agitator is a small fan with a screw in one of its blades.

    Ellie1:09 PM
    or in my case an old Makerbot replicator (wood one) where I would break one fin off of a fan blade and it would all vibrate

    Thomas Shaddack1:10 PM
    Sometimes the blade breaks on its own. Or when you adjust something in the machine and stick in a finger. Don't ask how I know-ow-ow.


    Read more »

  • Hack Chat Transcript, Page 1

    Dan Maloney07/05/2023 at 20:29 0 comments

    Dan Maloney12:00 PM
    OK, now that we've whet our appetites, let's dive in. I'm Dan, I'll be modding today along with Dusan as we welcome Ellie Weinstein to the Hack Chat to talk about 3D printing food.

    Hi Ellie, welcome aboard! Can you tell us how you found yourself printing food?

    Dusan Petrovic12:00 PM
    Hi Dan!

    Ellie12:00 PM
    Hi all!

    Dusan Petrovic12:00 PM
    welcome everyone!

    Ellie12:01 PM
    So just a quick intro on me and then I can share more about my journey to printing food and answer whatever questions you all have!

    Ellie12:01 PM
    I started working on Cocoa Press in 2014 during an intro to engineering class in high school. I graduated from Penn Engineering in 2019 and began working on Cocoa Press full time after 5 years of it being my hobby.

    I have also appeared on the Battlebots TV show as a part of team Mammoth and am passionate about the ways we can use 3D printing across industries. When not 3D printing I sing and enjoy weaving, woodworking and glassblowing while fighting for trans rights across the US.

    Ellie12:01 PM
    As for Cocoa Press - if you haven't checked it out before you can see some cool pictures of printed chocolates here!

    Ellie12:02 PM
    But the basic and slightly unsatisfying answer is that I fell into it during that insured and sharing class, then, as time went on, I realized that there was a real market for personalize chocolates, and that you could do things with 3D food printing that you can't make any other way

    Ellie12:03 PM
    The two examples, I always give are making unique textures like the gyroid infill, and creating personalized designs without needing to use a custom mold

    Ellie12:03 PM
    But that's enough of the sales pitch, I'm happy to chat about how I got here, about food printing, about the tech aspects, chocolate aspects or anything else you all want to know!

    Ellie12:04 PM
    also thanks for having me Dan!

    mda1mike joined  the room.12:04 PM

    Ellie12:04 PM

    Ellie12:04 PM

    Thomas Shaddack12:04 PM

    Ellie12:04 PM

    Dan Maloney12:05 PM
    Did you pick chocolate as a material because it's easy to work with, or because of the market demand?

    Dan Maloney12:05 PM
    My guess is both, but...

    Ellie12:05 PM
    I forgot I can put pictures in here! The first one is a print in place articulating fish (my favorite print), the second shows the infills and textures I was talking about, and the third some personalization

    Ellie12:07 PM
    So I originally picked it because I thought it would be easy to work with, but I was wrong 🫣. It turns out chocolate is really difficult because it is so temperature dependent and just temperamental in general

    Ellie12:07 PM
    It's easy in that it melts at body temperature and solidifies at room temperature, so it's not dangerous, but that's about where that ends

    Thomas Shaddack12:08 PM
    Are there other behavioral dependences than just the temperature-viscosity one? For a given material?

    Ellie12:10 PM
    Depending on the base fat, that is used (whether that is cocoa butter, or something like palm oil), chocolate tends to behave very differently. Cocoa butter based chocolate needs to be tempered, while compound chocolate that uses palm oil with the cocoa solid, which is what I've switched to does not need to be tempered

    mda1mike12:10 PM
    What type of chocolate is used?

    Ellie12:11 PM
    Tempering is basically a process of heating up and cooling down the chocolate so the crystal structure is aligned. You know a chocolate is tempered when you have a nice snap when you break it. When chocolate is out of temper (like if you leave it in a hot car), you might see white, powdery finish, or even if it has returned to room temperature it may still be soft

    mda1mike12:11 PM
    Is compound chocolate readily available?

    Ellie12:12 PM
    I'm currently using a compound chocolate, so it has palm oil and cocoa solids. I have milk and dark chocolate and am working on white chocolate! I'm also working to make my dark chocolate vegan

    Thomas Shaddack12:12 PM
    I did some chocolate...

    Read more »

View all 2 event logs

Enjoy this event?



Lucy E. Moriarty wrote 07/04/2023 at 06:44 point

Thanks for sharing about that. I am looking for more information about it. I will follow you to update the latest posts.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Interested in attending?

Become a member to follow this event or host your own