The idea of printing with chocolate has been around for a while now. There are a few conversion kits out there to jury-rig your current 3D printer, but they always fall short. The Cocoa Press is a new approach: It’s a complete chocolate 3D printer that comes in either kit form for $1,500 or fully assembled for $4,000 and lets you make almost any 3D model out of chocolate.
I saw the Cocoa Press for the first time towards the end of 2022 at the East Coast RepRap Festival, a 3D-printing convention in Maryland. I was impressed with the engineering involved. Unlike a normal 3D print, which uses a thin strand of plastic, the Cocoa Press has a reservoir filled with specialty chocolate. This chocolate cools quickly and then extrudes onto the build surface in layers. All of the parts that touch the chocolate are food-safe — made of silicone or stainless steel – and because the printing temperature is just 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 Celsius), it’s safe to use around kids.
What’s interesting is how good the final models are. Because the chocolate cools so fast, it can support more advanced geometries than other chocolate printers, allowing for a much better variety of potential chocolate shapes. You can even print hollow models with a small hole to fill them with your favorite jams, fondants or ganache. In this picture, you can see even these simple designs show how this could be used at home or in a small business. Making delicious treats for your friends and family would be great fun, and you could also sell them at a farmers’ market or online.
While the kit requires you to 3D print some of the parts, it comes with all the electronics and mechanical parts you’ll need to start printing chocolate. Thankfully, only four parts of the printer touch the food, and they are all easily removable to be cleaned in a sink and ensure everything is hygienic. Cocoa Press also sells the chocolate in special cylinders that easily fit into the chamber, but it does state you can try and create your own. These cylinders will cost $49 for a pack of 10, each weighing 70 grams (2.5 ounces). As costs go, that’s not bad, especially if you’re considering selling your creations on Etsy or at a market.
I love 3D printing. It gives you a chance to be creative in new and exciting ways, so any advancement that increases that creative avenue deserves some attention. Ellie Weinstein, the engineer behind Cocoa Press, has been working on this project for a while now, and following her journey as she finds new ways of printing chocolate has been amazing. I also love chocolate, and combining the two has my mouth watering over cool things I’ll be able to make. I can already see the Etsy stores full of chocolate articulating dragons, chocolate trophies and cream-filled dragon eggs.
As of April 17, 2023, the Cocoa Press is available to reserve for $100 and should be shipping to the US and Canada sometime in September 2023. The full price will be $1,500 for the kit requiring you to 3D print parts for yourself. Or it’s $4,000 for a fully assembled kit, which will ship later in the year.