A team of Dutch scientists decided to create the perfect piece of chocolate using new 3D printing technology: they wanted to make a pattern that would crumble nicely when bitten.
An experienced chocolatier heats and cools the emulsion to create the perfect crystal lattice structure. According to physicist and chocolate store owner Richard Tango-Lowy, cocoa butter is a six-phase polymorphic crystal. It has a phase V, which can be called the perfect phase: it crackles and melts rather than crumbles. It also gives high-quality chocolates a glossy sheen. But it can take weeks for a piece of such chocolate to fully crystallize. Furthermore, phase V crystals are unstable and can turn into dull phase IV crystals over time.
The authors of the new work proceeded from the idea that most people like chocolate to crunch when they bite into it. So they designed the shape of the chocolate to be as crunchy as possible. They found that a spiral was ideal.
Then the team began experimenting with maximum anisotropic structures – structures that remain strong if broken in one direction but brittle and crackly in the opposite direction.
The anisotropic study is an attempt to create chocolates that would be super strong when force is applied to one axis and very crunchy when force is applied to the other.
To do this, the team decided to use a 3D printer and print the product on it. It was hardened in a certain way to maximize the formation of V phase crystals. To do this, the authors heated the chocolate to 45 °C to destroy all crystals. It was then allowed to cool with solid pellets until the temperature dropped below 34 °C. At this point, the researchers loaded the chocolate into syringes and placed them in cartridges for the 3D bioplotter. After that, they tried printing the created molds on a special base with a temperature of 12 °C.
But the authors ran into a problem: The chocolate began to crystallize right in the syringe tube, so the machine had to be constantly recalibrated as the printed lines changed in thickness. It was also getting thicker as it printed, so pressure and speed had to be adjusted as each layer was printed.
The authors said they plan to fix the problems that emerged during the printing process as the work continues.
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