Exeter pioneers chocolate engineering

Student engineers at ExeterUniversity stand to change the shape of Easter with machinery they have developed to produce completely personalised chocolate items.

The new process can produce a 3D object of any shape in chocolate from a computer design.

The machine uses additive layer manufacturing (ALM) technology in a new way, as chocolate is a particularly difficult material to work with.

James Bulleid, project team leader, said: ‘Chocolate exists in about six different forms, only one of which is nice to eat. We had to make sure that our end result still tasted as good as the original ingredient.’

Exeter has substantial expertise in ALM through researching metals and plastics for aerospace and Formula 1 applications. The team chose to investigate manufacturing bespoke chocolate as a teaching demonstrator with commercial potential.

The team has secured a variety of sponsors from international heavyweights Cadbury’s to Tiverton based HepcoMotion, manufacturers of linear motion products and Farnell, a specialist electronic component supplier.

The team hopes that once the prototype has had further development, the technology will be affordable enough to be sited in shops and available for individuals to use over the internet, making it possible to produce totally personalised chocolate items.