Connecticut Patent of the Month – March 2022

3D printing and additive manufacturing have brought about nearly endless possibilities in the manufacturing industry. Xerox Corp, a master in digital printing technology, has recently combined 3D printing and chocolate to create a reliable way of printing tempered chocolate.

If chocolate is tempered a certain way, it can produce a product with V type crystals. This means it has a melting point of approximately 34° C. Chocolate with these crystal structures are typically shiny with a firm texture and a good snap – all qualities desired in decorative chocolate. With the higher melting point, the chocolate also will not melt at typical ambient temperatures.

There have been attempts at 3D printing chocolate to create 3D designs. These attempts are typically limited by the temperatures used during printing. Chocolate must be heated above the type VI crystal structure melting point (36° C) in order to have it flow easily for printing. If you heat chocolate to this temperature it loses its temper. This means the final product has lesser quality with poor snap and finish. 

Xerox’s method uses a series of relations between layers to better manage the chocolate. As the first layer is processed to solidify, the second layer is added and functions as a seed layer. The physical contact between the two layers causes the second layer to crystallize with the desired V type crystals. This is because as the initial type V crystals cool, they act as a crystallization nuclei which encourages other type V crystals to form. This means the first layer is crucial to the formation of the remaining chocolate. Xerox takes advantage of this property, forcing each layer to take on the properties of the prior layer, and creating a smooth, shiny finish for their 3D chocolate masterpiece.

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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