The future is fast-fowarding to your kitchen. In the not-too-distant future, you might be able to satisfy your chocolate cravings by printing a Hershey’s chocolate bar or Kiss or other confection using a 3-D food printer right in your own home. Hershey Co (NYSE:HSY) announced today that it had entered a partnership with leading 3-D printing concern 3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD) to develop a 3-D printer for chocolate.
The announcement did not specify the terms of the deal, nor elaborate on the timeline for the project.
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William Papa, Vice President and Chief Research and Development Officer of the Hershey Co (NYSE:HSY) released a statement. “Whether it’s creating a whole new form of candy or developing a new way to produce it, we embrace new technologies such as 3D printing as a way to keep moving our timeless confectionery treats into the future.”
3-D food printing
The concept of printing food products using a 3-D printer has been around for some time, but no food-quality 3-D printers for commercial use had been unveiled until last week’s Consumer Electronics Show. Manufacturers cited issues including the complexity of food chemistry, high consumer expectations, and of course, health and safety concerns.
Three-dimensional chocolate products can be created by melting chocolate, then tempering it and pouring onto a substrate in thin two-dimensional layers as a repetitive process until the 3-D product is formed. Chocolate, however, is not easy to use in a printing process because of the difficulty of precise temperature control and constantly maintaining the viscosity of the liquid.
3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD) gave the public its first look at their new “food-safe” 3D printer. This 3-D food printing device uses an ink jet head to spray water over a previously laid fine layer of sugar, which causes the sugar to recrystallize into various geometric shapes.
A British firm Choc Edge also recently announced it had developed a technology to produce a chocolate replica of a customer’s face using a 3D printer, with a price of between $60 and $100 for a custom chocolate face mask.
Hershey Co (NYSE:HSY) is down 90 cents at $98.60 as of 1:20 PM ET today.