Here at SmartPlanet, we've talked about all the incredible economies and efficiencies that can be realized through 3D printing -- in which designs are sent from your computer to specialized printers pre-loaded with appropriate raw materials -- for everything from to to . Even referred to as "personal manufacturing," the new emerging solutions have profound implications for our economic competitiveness.
All well and good. But let's get down to a really important application: researchers at the University of Exeter have just developed a 3D printer for chocolate.
Sound frivolous? Well, as designer Richard Evenson explains it, chocolate is a low-risk way to introduce businesses and students alike to the brave new world of 3D printing, driven by co-creation of goods by consumers:
"This opens up the possibility for the much wider participation of the consumer in the production process. Some people call it co-creation, where the consumer is fully part of the design process. Chocolate is a very easy place to explore how that would happen, because chocolate is not a safety-critical system in any way. Chocolate, if it goes horribly wrong, then all you have is a mess of chocolate. As we move away from just customization and toward co-creation, this sort of design also includes a Web interface which allows people not only to design their own system, but also collaborate with other people. Those are going to become much more pervasive."
Sounds good, professor -- but what really matters is we now have a cool way to make chocolate faster and in greater quantities!
(Video link: EPSRC.)
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com