An engineer by trade, and a chocolatier, Hans Fouche, owner of Fouche Chocolates, built his own 3D printers dedicated to creating delicate, scrumptious chocolates sculptures.
Fouche Chocolates, of Centurion, South Africa, produces chocolate confections and cake decorations by customizing the machines he uses for his work.
"I couldn't have done this if I wasn't an engineer. It would have all been too expensive," Fouche said.
Using a RepRap-esque 3D chocolate printer which sports eight extruders for his creations, Fouche got some attention from Nestle and the Museum of African Design. The groups asked him to give them a hand producing a series of 3D printed chocolate sculptures as a part of the launch celebration of the new Google operating system, Android 4.4 and their Chocnology Exhibition.
Chocnology featured the works of Joey Hi-Fi , Marchand Le Roux, Arno Kruger, Liron Segev, Mine Jonker of Studio Muti, Rene Roussouw and Fouche Chocolates among the exhibitors.
"A lot of the designs were very ambitious," Fouche said, "It was only through our experience with 3D printing chocolate that we were able to help the artists to realize what is actually possible. The best are always simple and not over complicated, because chocolate is difficult to work with, it doesn't support itself very well."
Fouche says the key to creating chocolates that hold up to gravity and the elements is printing very few layers at once before assembling the final sculpture.
But as all good things must inevitably come to an end, Fouche has reconfigured the 3D aspects of his eight-extruder chocolate printer. It's now being used to print two-dimensional designs using a conveyor belt to speed production.
"I'm an engineer, not a salesman or a marketing person," Fouche says. "Our (chocolate printer) products are so unique. It's nice for me to design these things, but for me to sell these things, that's a different matter."
As a pure feat of engineering, Fouche's enormous RepRap3D printer – a machine standing nearly seven feet tall and taking up most of the space in his garage – was designed specifically to make mega chocolate sculptures. Sadly, as he lacked a commercial outlet for his creations, the chocolate-spewing behemoth is now used to create plastic sculptures for interior designers.
It's a safe bet those sculptures aren't nearly as tasty.