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3D printers are already a fairly well established fact in manufacturing industries. An image is sent to the printer, sliced into horizontal layers, which are then replicated in the material of your choice, one layer at a time, without the need to make dies for casting. This helps with the development of new designs and ideas no end.
But now, scientists at Exeter University have developed a prototype device, which uses 3D printer technology to do the same sort of thing, only with chocolate. Which means the chocolate iPhone is surely only a matter of time.
Lead scientist Dr Liang Hao told BBC News that printing in chocolate is just like printing in ink. The trick is to start with a flat cross-section of your finished image, “then you do a 3D shape – layer by layer, printing chocolate instead of ink, like if you were layering 2D paper to form a 3D shape.”
And of course, chocolate being chocolate, each layer solidifies before the next one is added.
Dr Hao says that once a commercial prototype is ready, he wants to create a chocolate-based social networking site, as a way of researching how best to use their invention for the good of mankind.
“Now we have an opportunity to combine chocolate with digital technology, including the design, digital manufacturing and social networking. Chocolate has a lot of social purpose, so our intention is to develop a community and share the designs, ideas and experience about it.”
Seriously, he really did say, “Chocolate has a lot of social purpose,” that’s how you can tell he’s a scientist.
What would you print if you had a 3D chocolate printer? Tell us here.
Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.
He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.
Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic