Chocolate maker Hershey's is jumping aboard the 3D-Printing Express. According to AdAge, the company plans to install a permanent 3D chocolate printer at their headquarters in Pennsylvania in May. It will be part of their Chocolate World attraction and customers will be able to use it to order chocolates "in their own likeness" — because who wouldn't want a chocolate statue of themselves — and other custom shapes.
The biggest challenge that Hershey's faces is making sure the taste of this 3D printed chocolate is consistent. During 3D printing "chocolate is extruded through special metal-nozzled cartridges" and it must taste like a normal Hershey's bar when finished. While the permanent 3D printer is not ready yet, the company already uses the technology to create "custom, edible wedding cake toppers and greeting cards." Executives tell AdAge that being able to use 3D printing to create chocolate bars on a mass scale in areas outside of Hershey manufacturing facilities would be advantageous, and great news for chocolate lovers.
The food world appears to be embracing 3D printing. A slew of companies are now experimenting with the technology, especially in professional kitchens. Chef Jet created the first 3D printer "specifically for pastry chefs" and it can make everything from tiny candies to complex cake toppers. Another company hopes to convince home cooks to embrace the technology, and is set to release an affordable model by the end of the year.